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The challenge faced by Braque and Picasso was how to reflect the immense shift in consciousness that the new technological environment of the industrial revolution imposed without falling into the elementary solution of merely becoming machine illustrators.6 They solved it by illustrating the spirit of the time. By not presenting an immediately coherent view of life, but aiming instead to render the sense of multiplicity which had been the subtext of Cézanne's late work as the governing element of reality, cubism metaphorically reflected on the accelerated rate of change. The intercultural contact, and the move away from determinism to relativity, were the hallmarks of the modernist era.

Figure 13: Picasso. Guitar , 1912.
(Palau i Fabre 1990: 241)

Cubism not only adhered to its time conceptually, but also formalistically. Through the method of collage the cubists incorporated products of industrial mass production into their work. These processes in turn had an influence on the development of modern sculpture, seen in Picasso's use of tin in the production of constructions such as Guitar of 1912. [Figure 13]

From that moment, sculpture was not conceived of as a solid mass, but rather as an open construction of planes. From the Guitar , via Russian constructivism, seen in the work of Vladimir Tatlin, a tradition of assembled metal sculpture was inaugurated in the West which culminated in the work of David Smith and Anthony Caro. For an artist like Smith the use of metal counted for more than merely the radical new possibilities it opened up for sculpture: it symbolised the industrial age to which he belonged. 'My aim', he wrote in 1952, 'is the same as in locomotive building: to arrive at a given functional form in the most efficient manner'. (Hughes 1993: 61) [Figure 14]

Figure 14: David Smith. Spoleto, Italy, 1963.

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