The article “Carl Einstein, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Cubism, and the Visual Brain” by Charles W. Haxthausen made me realize that probably the cubism, invented by Picasso and Gris, was a logical step further along the path towards the investigation of vision, opened by impressionists.
Indeed, far from being a game of abstraction, multiple viewpoints and other rubbish, it appears that cubism, at least in its first stages, represents the effort of understanding the first stages of vision, as happening in the (artist’s) brain. I find this story amazing, showing how far a brilliant mind (the one of Picasso) could go ahead of its time.
Here is a reproduction of the painting “Guitarist”, by Picasso, 1910, taken from the cited article:
It would be interesting to compare the statistics of edges and corners
and blobs (actually blobs are higher level features) in cubist paintings from this age with the statistics of same features in databases of natural images. My bet is that they are very close.