In painting the several sources of cubist inspiration included the later work of Cézanne; the geometric forms and compressed picture space in his paintings appealed especially to Braque, who developed them in his own works. African sculpture, particularly mask carvings, had enormous influence in the early years of the movement. Picasso's Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907; Mus. of Modern Art, New York City) is one of the most significant examples of this influence. Within this revolutionary composition lay much of the basic material of cubism.
The cubist break with the tradition of imitation of nature was completed in the works of Picasso, Braque, and their many groups of followers. While few painters remained faithful to cubism's rigorous tenets, many profited from its discipline. Although the cubist groups were largely dispersed after World War I, their collective break from visual realism had an enriching and decisive influence on the development of 20th-century art. It provided a new stylistic vocabulary and a technical idiom that remain forceful today.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.