Cubism to Surrealism

Learn a little about art history…

Before you start, though, it is helpful to know a few special words:

Juxtaposition: place objects not usually put together next to each other

Dislocation: place objects in a setting in which they are not usually found

Metamorphosis: make objects seem to be turning into something else; e.g. a fish turning into a boat

Transformation: make objects change in odd ways; e.g. a train that is melting


• begun by Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1882-1973) and Georges Braque (French, 1882-1963) in 1907

•  paintings are not supposed to look real

• subject matter is broken up, analyzed, and reassembled in an abstracted form

• Paul Cézanne, said artists should treat nature “in terms of the cylinder, the sphere and the cone.”

• inspired by African sculpture, by painters Paul Cézanne (French, 1839-1906) and Georges Seurat (French, 1859-1891)

• Early cubists used mainly grays, browns, greens, and yellows. After 1914, Cubists started to use brighter colors.

• Cubism was the beginning of the Abstract and Non-objective art styles.

Take a look at some examples: Georges BraquePablo Picasso


• term first used in 1910
• paintings expresses certain feelings about something
• more concerned about showing those feelings than showing the actual objects in a realistic way
• inspired by Edvard Munch: The Scream

Take a look at some examples: Marc Chagall, Wassily Kandinsky, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner



• born on July 7, 1887 in Vitebsk, Russia
• in 1932 he moved to France
• lived in the United States from 1941 to 1948
• return to France and died there in 1985
• paintings are in the style of Expressionism and Cubism
• often painted violinists because he played the violin and also in memory of his uncle, who also played
• famous for his paintings of Russian-Jewish villages.”

Look at some of his work: Fiddler, Stained Glass Window, A Collection of Images

Learn more about his life, too.


• lasted only four years, beginning in 1905
• the name is French for “wild beasts”
• the paintings had bright and unusual colors
• subjects in the paintings were shown in a simple way with wild colours and shapes

Take a look at some pictures by Henri Matisse: Charing Cross BridgeOpen WindowLes toits de Collioure



•  name coined in 1917
•  popular in France in the 1920s -1930s
•  paintings generally based on dreams
•  filled with familiar objects that look strange or mysterious
•  changes how people think and feel about things

Take a look at some paintings by these artists:  Pablo PicassoGiorgio de ChiricoMarc Chagall, Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Paul Klee, Rene Magritte.

And take a look at one of the most famous paintings of the Spanish Civil War. It is seen as both a reminder of the horrors of the war and a call for peace.

Finally, look at these beautifully fantastic paintings by Vladimir Kush.

There are some composers whose music can be considered surrealistic…

Erik Satie
Maurice Ravel
Bela Bartok


To review…

Fauvism: 1905-1909; simple shapes and wild colours; Matisse

Cubism: started in 1907; spheres, cylinders; cones; not supposed to look real; inspired by Cezanne, African art; Picasso and Braque

Expressionism: started in 1910; emphasizes emotions; inspired by Munch’s ‘Scream’; Chagall

Surrealism: 1917 -1930s; changes how people think and feel; Chagall, Dali, Klee, Magritte, Picasso

This page may be copied for use with students if the following credit is provided:
©2012 Sophie Rosen.

Now make your own surreal picture…

a style of art depicting nonrational imagery with unexpected juxtapositions; popular in France in the early 1900s

1. Find a magazine picture you like.

2. Look for little pictures you can cut out and paste on top to create a new image.

3. As you work, think about what emotions you are creating.

4. As you work, cut and glue carefully.

5. Remember that you need both a creative mind and a skillful hand to create memorable art.

Here are some examples created by eighth grade students…

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