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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 flat or level surface.

A work of art made from paint applied to canvas, wood, paper, or another support (noun).

A representation of a human or animal form in a work of art.

A closely woven, sturdy cloth of hemp, cotton, linen, or a similar fiber, frequently stretched over a frame and used as a surface for painting.

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 individual elements within a work of art so as to form a unified whole; also used to refer to a work of art, music, or literature, or its structure or organization.

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.