The Influence of Tribal Masks on Cubism

As an art enthusiast and artist, I have always been fascinated by the evolution of artistic movements and the various influences that shape them. One such captivating example is the relationship between cubism and tribal masks. Cubism, considered one of the most influential art movements of the 20th century, was heavily influenced by the powerful and mystical allure of traditional tribal masks from different cultures around the world.

At the turn of the 20th century, many European artists were seeking new ways to break free from the constraints of traditional artistic representation. Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, the pioneers of cubism, found inspiration in the simplicity and geometric shapes of tribal masks. These masks, crafted with great skill and detail by indigenous cultures, captured the essence of spirituality and ancient wisdom. The artists recognized the raw power emanating from these masks and sought to incorporate them into their own revolutionary style.

The impact of tribal masks on cubism can be seen in the fragmentation and distortion of forms in cubist artworks. Just as these masks were often crafted with separate pieces and assembled together, Picasso and Braque deconstructed objects into geometric forms such as cubes, cylinders, and cones. This unconventional approach allowed them to view the subject from multiple angles simultaneously, providing a new way of seeing and representing reality.

This mask actually started out as a basket. It was part of a Venezuelan women’s basket cooperative. When the women tired of making baskets, they turned them into masks. To me, it is one of the most incredible pieces from Latin America showing a transition from the practical to the aesthetic and spiritual.

Furthermore, tribal masks encouraged the exploration of multiple viewpoints and perspectives within cubist art. Like masks that were intended to be seen and experienced from different angles, cubism shattered the notion of a single fixed viewpoint. Instead, it embraced the idea of capturing the essence of the subject from different perspectives, incorporating simultaneous views into a single image.

In conclusion, tribal masks played a significant role in shaping the cubist movement. Their mystical and spiritual qualities, along with their use of geometric forms and embrace of multiple viewpoints, greatly influenced Picasso, Braque, and other cubist artists. By breaking away from traditional artistic conventions, cubism revolutionized the art world and paved the way for innovative approaches to representation. The marriage of tribal masks and cubism created a powerful fusion of ancient wisdom and modern artistic vision.