Cubism: Art and Philosophy

Dan O’Brien


In this paper I argue that the development of cubism by Picasso and Braque at the beginning of the twentieth century can be illuminated by consideration of long-running philosophical debates concerning perceptual realism, in particular byLocke’s (1689) distinction between primary and secondary properties, and Kant’s (1781) empirical realism. Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (1920), Picasso’s dealer and early authority on cubism, interpreted Picasso and Braque as Kantian in their approach. I reject his influential interpretation, but propose a more plausible, Kantian reading of cubism.


Braque; cubism; formalism; Kant; Locke; Picasso; realism; space and time

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ESPES. The Slovak Journal of Aesthetics (ISSN 1339-1119) is published biannually by University of Presov, Slovakia and the Society for Aesthetics in Slovakia. Registration number of the journal in the Register of Periodical Publications of the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic: EV173/23/EPP.

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