Cubism vs. Futurism

What's the Difference?

Cubism and Futurism were two influential art movements that emerged in the early 20th century. While both movements sought to break away from traditional artistic conventions, they did so in different ways. Cubism, pioneered by artists like Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, focused on breaking down objects into geometric shapes and depicting multiple viewpoints simultaneously. Futurism, on the other hand, was more concerned with capturing the energy and dynamism of modern life, often incorporating elements of speed, technology, and movement into their works. Despite their differences, both movements were instrumental in pushing the boundaries of art and paving the way for future artistic developments.


Photo by David Clode on Unsplash
FounderPablo Picasso and Georges BraqueFilippo Tommaso Marinetti
Time Period1907-1920s1909-1944
Key CharacteristicsGeometric shapes, fragmented forms, multiple viewpointsMotion, speed, technology, urban life
InfluenceModern art movements, abstract artFuturism, Dadaism, Surrealism
Photo by Alena Stepanova on Unsplash

Further Detail


Art history is filled with various movements that have shaped the way we perceive and create art. Two such movements that emerged in the early 20th century are Cubism and Futurism. While both movements were revolutionary in their own right, they had distinct attributes that set them apart from each other.

Origins and Influences

Cubism, pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque in the early 1900s, was influenced by African tribal art and the works of Paul Cézanne. The movement sought to depict objects from multiple viewpoints, breaking them down into geometric shapes and reassembling them in an abstract form. On the other hand, Futurism, founded by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti in Italy, was inspired by the dynamism of modern technology and the speed of urban life. Futurist artists aimed to capture movement and energy in their works, often depicting scenes of machinery, speed, and violence.

Visual Style

One of the key differences between Cubism and Futurism lies in their visual styles. Cubist artworks are characterized by fragmented forms, multiple viewpoints, and a sense of abstraction. Artists like Picasso and Braque used geometric shapes and muted colors to create complex compositions that challenged traditional notions of representation. In contrast, Futurist artworks are dynamic, energetic, and often filled with movement. Artists like Umberto Boccioni and Giacomo Balla used bold colors, diagonal lines, and overlapping shapes to convey a sense of speed and motion in their works.

Subject Matter

While both Cubism and Futurism were concerned with breaking away from traditional artistic conventions, they approached subject matter in different ways. Cubist artists focused on still life, portraits, and landscapes, often deconstructing these subjects into their basic geometric forms. The emphasis was on the formal qualities of the artwork rather than the representation of reality. On the other hand, Futurist artists were more interested in modernity, technology, and the urban environment. They depicted scenes of factories, trains, and city streets, capturing the energy and excitement of the modern world.

Philosophical Underpinnings

Both Cubism and Futurism were driven by a desire to break free from the constraints of traditional art and explore new ways of seeing and representing the world. However, they had different philosophical underpinnings that informed their artistic practices. Cubism was influenced by the concept of relativity and the idea that reality is subjective and can be represented in multiple ways. Artists sought to challenge the viewer's perception and create works that were open to interpretation. Futurism, on the other hand, was rooted in the belief in progress, speed, and the power of technology. Artists embraced the dynamism of the modern world and sought to capture its essence in their works.

Legacy and Influence

Despite their differences, both Cubism and Futurism had a lasting impact on the art world and continue to influence artists to this day. Cubism laid the foundation for abstract art and paved the way for movements like Surrealism and Constructivism. Artists like Picasso and Braque revolutionized the way we think about form, space, and composition in art. Futurism, on the other hand, inspired a new generation of artists to explore the possibilities of technology and the urban environment. The movement's emphasis on speed, movement, and energy can be seen in the works of later artists like the Futurist sculptor Umberto Boccioni and the Russian Constructivist Vladimir Tatlin.


In conclusion, Cubism and Futurism were two groundbreaking art movements that emerged in the early 20th century and forever changed the course of art history. While Cubism focused on abstraction, multiple viewpoints, and geometric forms, Futurism emphasized movement, speed, and modernity. Both movements challenged traditional artistic conventions and pushed the boundaries of what art could be. Their legacy continues to inspire artists and art lovers around the world, reminding us of the power of innovation and creativity in the world of art.

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