Abstract Cubist Still Life (May 2012)

This project was inspired by the abstract ‘Still Life’ paintings of the French Cubist, Georges Braque (1882-1963), and the 20th century English painter Ben Nicholson (1894-1982), who was influenced by Cubism.

Ben Nicholson, Still Life: Crystal, 1948, Oil and pencil on canvas (Milwaukee Art Museum)

We talked about how Braque and Nicholson chose to paint ordinary objects – things that you might find in your kitchen cupboard, such as wine glasses, cups, jugs, bowls, wine bottles and vases. However they did not paint them in a realistic way. Instead, they reduced them to simple, flat shapes drawn in outline.

I showed the children several Cubist paintings (like the one shown above) in which these simple shapes overlap each other and are broken down into fragments. I asked them to try and recognise the objects now that they had been transformed into an abstract pattern.

Then the kids created their own Cubist Still Life pictures. Georges Braque often glued newspaper to his canvases so, instead of working on plain drawing paper, I offered them a sheet of newspaper print or musical scores.

The children drew around templates of domestic objects – bottles, jugs, cups etc – making sure that the outlines overlapped.

Then they further dissected their pictures with several straight or diagonal lines drawn across the paper.

Coloured pencils were used to fill in the abstract shapes created by the overlapping lines.

I love the way the newsprint and the musical scores are visible through the colours, adding texture and interest to the children’s artworks.











To view more examples please click through the gallery below…



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