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The Cover
September 27, 2006

The Lamp

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2006;296(12):1442. doi:10.1001/jama.296.12.1442

Nearly 100 years after the term “Cubism” was coined by a Paris art critic to disparage some new paintings by Georges Braque and Picasso, it has spawned as many definitions, defenses, interpretations, and theories as a diamond has facets. It has been called a style, a movement, a technique, and “none of the above.” What is agreed is that it is probably the most influential movement in 20th-century painting, divorcing art once and for all from the comfortable illusions of Renaissance perspective. What the artist previously saw with his outer eye, he would now see with his inner eye. Moreover, whereas the Impressionists had only wished to capture “instantaneity”—a single aspect of time—on their canvases, the Cubists wanted it all, “simultaneity”: the subject in its entirety—volume, mass, space, time, eventually even motion. Even so, a Cubist painting was emphatically not abstract; it was firmly rooted in the reality of the subject, which had to come from nature. In the process of creation the subject might be altered until its original appearance existed no longer; nevertheless, the painting must have been derived from an existing object.

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