When one thinks of Cubism, images of Montmartre intellectuals and Picasso’s ground-breaking Les Demoiselles d’Avignon immediately spring to mind. One of the most influential movements in art history, hints of the Cubist aesthetic continue to resonate in the art world. One man who helped advance and disseminate this revolutionary vision was the talented Vilhelm Lundstrøm. A celebrated modernist painter, Lundstrøm is credited for bringing French Cubism to Denmark, establishing a rich modern tradition in the Danish art scene that exists still today.
The foundations of Cubist art can be boiled down to the Lundstrøm’s forbearers: Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. A movement born from abandoning perspective, exploring form, and experiencing space, Cubism emerged in 1907 as a reaction to the primitive art of Paul Cezanne. Together, Braque and Picasso developed the style to the very apex of austerity: Analytical Cubism. Their capability to comprehend and capture different viewpoints and positions simultaneously gave rise to a multitude of other styles, all which rejecting the idea that art should reflect true nature. Lundstrøm’s work Still Life with Orange, Books and Boxes is a clear example of the duo’s deep and long-lasting influence.
Depicting a multitude of simplified forms to depict books and boxes, the minimal aesthetic of the Cubist style is immediately evident. In a palette of primary colors, this stark and extraordinary work exemplifies Lundstrøm’s bold and powerful renderings. Visiting France in the 1920s after studying at the Royal Danish Academy of Art, Lundstrøm encountered for the first time the Cubist canvasses of the great Picasso; the images would remain with him, permeating his oeuvre and influencing his homeland of Denmark. Echoing Picasso’s technique of a visual language based on numerous vantage points of geometric forms, Lundstrøm emphasizes the flattened two dimensionality of the canvas. This work goes far beyond the simple depiction of reality for any viewer. Instead of being a mirror into what the natural eye can already see, Lundstrøm presents us with a different view through shallow, relief like spaces, challenging us to consider our world is a new, different way.
On par with the big names of modern art, Lundstrom has left us with a piece of Danish Cubism that accurately reflects the bold, distinctive temperament of early 20th century modern art. Through just a morsel of context, the understanding of a Cubist work can change from a recognition of the pretty aesthetic to a thoughtful and perceptive approach to one of the most pivotal styles in art history.