Related themes


Explore how Cubist artists shattered conventions of representation and perspective.

"Ma Jolie"

Pablo Picasso
(Spanish, 1881–1973)

1912. Oil on canvas, 39 3/8 x 25 3/4" (100 x 64.5 cm)

In this composition, Picasso takes apart a traditional subject—a woman holding a guitar. He composed the figure into different planes, angles, lines, and shadings, completely abstracting the face. Six strings in the center of the picture allude to the guitar, while the triangle on the right appears to be the woman’s elbow. “Ma Jolie” (my pretty one), inscribed on the bottom of the painting, is also the nickname of Picasso’s girlfriend, Marcelle Humbert, and the refrain from a popular French cabaret song. The small treble clef next to the lettering implies Picasso’s use of symbols and text to tell a visually modern story.

A form, sign, or emblem that represents something else, often something immaterial, such as an idea or emotion.

The visual or narrative focus of a work of art.

In painting, a color plus black.

Modern can mean related to current times, but it can also indicate a relationship to a particular set of ideas that, at the time of their development, were new or even experimental.

A long mark or stroke.

 The arrangement of the elements within a work of art. The composition is the interplay between the subject, foreground, background, and other elements in the photograph.

A term generally used to describe art that is not representational or based on external reality or nature.

An Artistic Collaboration
Picasso and Braque worked so closely together that many people had trouble distinguishing between their paintings. The two artists often left signatures off their canvases, signing the back rather than the front, in order to encourage confusion.