Analytical Cubism

© 2009 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris; used with permission
Georges Braque (French, 1882-1963). Violin and Palette (Violon et palette), September 1, 1909. Oil on canvas. 91.7 x 42.8 cm (36 1/16 x 16 13/16 in.). 54.1412. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. © 2009 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris


(noun) - Analytic Cubism was developed only by Picasso and Braque during the winter of 1909-10. It lasted until the middle of 1912, when collage introduced simplified versions of the "analytic" forms.

Picasso and Braque invented specific shapes and characteristic details that would represent the whole object or person. In Braque's Violin and Palette (1909-10), we see specific parts of a violin that are meant to represent the whole instrument seen from various points of view (simultaneity): a pentagon represents the bridge, S curves represent the "f" holes, short lines represent strings, and the typical spiral knot with pegs represent the violin's neck.

These "signs" developed from the artists' analyses of objects in space. The most complex period of "Analytic Cubism" has been called "Hermetic Cubism," because it is almost impossible to figure out the images. However, they are there--no matter how distorted they may be. Analytic Cubism is not abstract art.

The word "analytic" comes from Daniel-Henri Kahnweiler's book The Rise of Cubism (Der Weg zum Kubismus), published in 1920. Kahnweiler was their dealer and he wrote this book while in exile from France during World War I. Kahnweiler did not invent the term "Analytic Cubism."

The term "Analytical Cubism" was introduced by Carl Einstein in his article "Notes sur le cubisme (Notes on Cubism)," published in Documents (Paris, 1929).


an·al·it·tic kube·ism