Sunday, 14 December 2008


Enamel sign for KUB Bouillon, photographed at L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue antiques market, France, Summer 2008.

The summer of 1912 was a very productive period in the development of cubism. Picasso was living in the town of Sorgues, north of Avignon where Braque would join him. A common sight would have been the advertisements for KUB bouillon, a popular brand of seasoning. The opportunities for punning this presented did not escape the artists, and Picasso directly referenced KUB in a painting that year, which some have seen as an example of proto-Pop art :

Picasso, Landscape with Posters, 1912

Richardson (A Life of Picasso, Vol. 2, p. 352) recounts that the Germanic-sounding KUB came under suspicion at the start of WWI as Maggi, the corporation owning the brand, erected signs and posters across France carrying "code numbers of purely administrative significance." Fearing these were enemy signals the authorities ordered them removed or defaced. This caused Picasso, with his connections to German dealers, some anxiety as to whether his own references to KUB might come under similar suspicion.

Georges Braque, L'Affiche de Kubelick (Le Violon), 1912