Fan, Pipe, and Glass, Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973) 

Fan, Pipe, and Glass, 1911 

Oil on canvas 

Purchase, Academy Fund and gift of the Friends of the Academy, by exchange, 1969 (3576.1) 

Between 1907, the year of his revolutionary work Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (The Museum of Modern Art, New York), and 1916, Pablo Picasso, together with Georges Braque, worked on solutions to the problems inherent in Cubism. He was concerned not only with the two-dimensional depiction of the three-dimensional aspects of reality but also with a world in constant flux, and he sought to portray multiple aspects of objects by simultaneously breaking them down and reconstituting them. 

An abstraction of a traditional still life, this painting is representative of Cubism's early, "analytical" phase, in which color was suppressed and form was translated into lines and shapes that signify objects in their many aspects. To the left, a white clay pipe hovers above a folded fan resting on a table; two reassembled glasses and schematic references to stringed instruments complete the composition. In works such as this Picasso has attempted to balance signs of external reality—inanimate objects—with a new spatial structure. By introducing a fresh way of depicting the increasingly complex world, he altered the course of Western art.