CUBISM

H

Georges Braque, Tete de femme, 1909, Modern Art, Paris

Andre Derain, Nature morte a la table, 1910, Modern Art, Paris

Robert Delaunay, La Ville de Paris, 1910-2, Modern Art, Paris

Albert Gleizes, Les Baigneuses, 1912, Modern Art, Paris

Auguste Herbin, Nature morte, 1912-3, Modern Art, Paris

Jean Metzinger, L'Oiseau bleu, 1913, Modern Art, Paris

Andre Lhote, L'Escale, 1913, Modern Art, Paris

Auguste Herbin, Femmes et enfants, 1914, Modern Art, Paris

Lyonel Feininger, Self-Portrait, 1915, Museum Fine Arts Houston

Jacques Lipchitz, Personnages assis jouant de la clarinette, 1920, Modern Art, Paris

Natalia Gontcharova, Deux femmes espagnoles, 1920-4, Modern Art, Paris

Lyonel Feininger, Self-Portrait, 1915, Museum Fine Arts Houston

ARTISTS

'Bateau Lavoir' Group

Braque, Georges (1882-1963) - B
Picasso, Pablo (1881-1973) - P
Laurencin, Marie (1885-1945)

Derain, Andre (1880-1954) - D
Gris, Juan (1887-1927) - G

'Puteaux' Group

Gleizes, Albert (1881-1953)
Villon, Jacques (1875-1963)
Duchamp-Villon, Raymond (1876-1918)
Duchamp, Marcel (1887-1968)

Fauconnier, Henri Le (1881-1945)
Metzinger, Jean (1883-1956) - M
Delaunay, Robert (1885-1941)
Leger, Fernand (1881-1955) - L

Second Wave of Cubists

Marcoussis, Louis (1883-1941) - Polish
Halicka
Fresnaye, Roger de La (1885-1925)
Archipenko, Alexander (1887-1964) - A
Laurens, Henri (1885-1954)
Lipchitz, Jacques (1891-1973)
Picabia, Francis (1879-1953)
Blanchard, Maria (1881-1932)

POETS AND CRITICS

Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) - Polish
Andre Salmon (1881-1969)
Alexandre Mercereau (1884-    )
Roger Allard (1885-1961)
Max Jacob (1876-1944)

Henri Bergson - philosopher

 

 

OVERVIEW

Beginning in 1907-8, the poet and art critic Apollinaire is seen as the prophet of the Cubists who transformed painting, sculpture, photography, architecture and design.

"Cubism, arguable the seminal art movement of the 20th century initiated a pictorial revolution through its radical approach to image-making, employing some of the most important features of modernism in Europe and America: visual abstraction and obfuscation, spatial and temporal disorientation, avant-gardist rejection of past values, and breakdown of class hierarchies in the embrace of popular culture."1

Influences on Cubism

X-rays discovered by Wilhelm Roentgen in 1895 causing a distrust of external appearances. Electric street lights in Paris in 1906. Henri Bergson's very popular anti-rationalist lectures at the College de France. Burgeoning women's movement including female emancipation, legal birth control, right to vote. Labour campaign for 8 hour work day, 5 day workweek. Cezanne's modes of representation. Building tensions between nations which seemed could only end in war.

Characterizing Cubism

Two groups of Cubists varying in exhibition practices and style.

1)    Picasso, Braque and their circle including Apollinaire, Salmon and Laurencin centered initially in the 'Bateau Lavoir' ('Washboat'), a rambling building at 13 rue Ravignan, Montmartre where P, Salmon and Gris had their studios. (Mentioned later with Metzinger and not Gris) P and B visible at Wilhelm Uhde's small Notre-Dame-des-Champs gallery. B until spring 1909, D until 1910 and G until 1912 showed at the public salons. By 1912 P, B, D, and G had signed contracts with the private dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (1884-1979) to buy their entire production which restricted them from showing their work anywhere except their studios or his gallery. Kahnweiler showed their work outside Paris and abroad where it was shown with the 'Puteaux' Cubists in Lyons, Amsterdam, Munich, Budapest, Moscow, London, New York, Chicago and Boston.

2)    A town on the outskirts of Paris, Puteaux, where the group met and the following resided: Gleizes, and the three Duchamp-Villon brothers. They were referred to as the 'Salon Cubists' participating in the spring Salon des Independants and the fall Salon d'Automne, and were thus the public face of Cubism. Metzinger, Gleizes and Fauconnier published explanations of their complex interests and aims around this time while the Kahnweiler group did not. It is debatable whether these early writings are applicable to the Cubist movement.

A second wave of artists joined the movement.

Marcoussis, Halicka, La Fresnaye, Archipenko, Laurens, Lipchitz, Picabia, and Blanchard. Archipenko and Duchamp-Villon were originators of Cubist sculpture. A arrived in Paris in 1908 and befriended Leger and joined the Duchamp-Villon circle in 1911. Marcoussis arrived in France in 1903 and began his cubist style in 1911. Halicka came to Paris in 1912, studied briefly at the Academie Ranson (see the Nabis Movement) and developed a Cubist aesthetic after 1914. Picabia met Apollinaire in 1911 and henceforth worked on his own blend of Cubism and abstraction. Blanchard explored Fauvism following her arrival in Paris in 1909, turning to Cubism in 1916 when she formed a close friendship with Gris.

Cubists coming together between 1907 and 1912

Italian Futurist Gino Severini (who lived in Montmartre from 1906 to 1913) recalled that the cafe La Closerie des Lilas, on the corner of boulevard Montparnasse and avenue de l'Observatoire, was at the epicenter of the movement. In the winter of 1908 Salmon was the secretary of a group associated with the neo-Symbolist journal Vers et Prose whom gathered around Symbolist poet Paul Fort during their weekly Tuesday soirees at the cafe. Severini notes among the attendees: older Symbolist writers and the younger admirers Gustave Kahn, Maurice Maeterlinck, Apollinaire and Allard as well as 'Unanimist' poet Jules Romains (1885-1972) and art critic Alexandre Mercereau. Severini also mentions Metzinger, Gleizes, Le Fauconnier, Villon, Duchamp-Villon, Duchamp and Leger, and according to literary historian Roger Shattuck: Max Jacob and Picasso joined these meetings.

Montmartre, the Bohemian Montparnasse, was home to B, D, Duchamp, G, Marcoussis, M, and P before 1913. B lived alongside Severini on the impasse Guelma. Severini recalls that the artists met frequently at the restaurant on rue Cavalotti near G's studio, where the proprietor Monsieur Vernin let them eat on credit. Severini mentions the painters B, Kees Van Dongen, G, and P as well as writers Apollinaire, Salmon, Jacob and Maurice Raynal (1884-1954). By 1912 Vernin's bistro had a reputation similar to Closerie de Lilas. It was described in the journal Fantasio in October 1912 as a 'Cubist bar'. The author of that article noted that on any given evening G, Marcoussis, Jacob, Apollinaire and P could be seen in the company of Leger, D, and Le Fauconnier discussin the thought of Henri Bergson and Leonardo da Vinci.

There was a lively exchange between the Montmartre bande a Picasso and those Cubists residing in Montparnasse or Puteaux.

TIMELINE

1906

Vlaminck procured an fang mask from the Congo (now Gabon) which he sold to D who in turn showed it to Picasso and Matisse. At this time D began to move away from "Fauvism" and concentrated on the work of Gauguin who had a large retrospective at the Salon d'Automne.

1907

Late in the year the poet Max Jacob, a close friend of Picasso, introduced Metzinger to Apollinaire and the Picasso circle. Henceforth M frequented P's nearby studio and often joined the bande a Picasso with B, D, Jacob, Salmon and Apollinaire.

B, P and D spending a lot of time together "working towards a radically abstract version of Cezannism, in the name of the 'primitive', that soon came to represent the earliest form of Cubism."1 See P's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907), possibly the first Cubist work. See Braque and Derain.

1908

December, M exhibited alongside B and P at Uhde's Notre-Dame-des-Champs Gallery.

In the winter of 1908-9 the American writer Gelett Burgess visited Paris, toured the art scene and interviewed a number of modernists including Matisse, D, B, P, and M. He published "The Wild Men of Paris" in 1910 in Architectural Record. Great Quote p. 25. Quote by Derain p. 30.

Braque's Houses at L'Estaque (source 2 p. 57) considered the first Cubist painting. Vauxcelles first used the term 'cubes' in reviewing that show at Kahnweiler's gallery in November 1908.

1909

M began publishing what Jacob called 'Mallarmeen' poetry in neo-Symbolist journals like lle sonnante and Pan.

1910

May, P shows at Wilhelm Uhde's small Notre-Dame-des-Champs Gallery. P exhibition at Ambroise Bollard's gallery December 1910 to February 1911.

Allard identified Fauconnier, Gleizes and Metzinger as the progenitors of a new movement in his review of the Salon d'Automne.

M painted a Cezannesque portrait of Apollinaire

1911

The Salon des Independants found Fauconnier, Gleizes and Metzinger exhibiting with Laurencin, Leger and Delaunay as a Cubist alliance creating a succes de scandale. La Fresnaye exhibited in a room adjacent to the Cubist room. He and sculptor Archipenko subsequently joined other Cubists at regular meetings at Gleizes's studio in Courbevoie, a Paris suburb adjacent to Puteaux.

 

SOURCES

1)    Cubism and Culture, Mark Antliff and Patricia Leighten. Thames & Hudson world of art, 2001.