Like the Analytical phase of Cubism, the Synthetic phase conveyed a sense of the tableau-objet (painting as a subject in itself). However, this was brought to a new level where non-artistic materials in the painting were used to create its own reality. This work is revolutionary in that the inclusion of exterior materials into art was to transform Cubism and to become the source for much of 20th century art. As the first Cubist Collage, Still Life with Chair Canning creates a reality without using illusionism. Instead of using traditional painting methods, Picasso incorporates a piece of commercially made oil cloth printed with a cane chair pattern, and thick textured rope as a frame.
Cubists wanted to regain and recreate a genuine sense of reality in their artworks and through this collage, Picasso challenges the ‘false’ sense of reality in painting, implying that artworks through the history of art are only imitations of the real world. This is the first instance that an artist has used such a vulgar and rough material in his work in order to challenge his audience’s perceptions of so-called “high art”.
Still Life with Chair Caning shows not only faux chair caning, but a pipe, glass, lemon, oyster and newspaper. While there are no figures in this work, the chair caning and the letters ‘JOU’ (as part of the French newspaper title ‘Journal’), suggest a cafe setting that encompasses the human audience.