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 Faculty of Arts, University of Presov, Slovakia and the Society for Aesthetics in Slovakia

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