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What We Know About Cubism?

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

During the early-20th-century, Cubism as an avant-garde art movement revolutionized European painting and sculpture.

Cubism manifested the idea of analyzing.

Burgeoned between 1907 and 1911, Cubism manifested the idea of analyzing, breaking up then reassembling and representing the subject in multiple perspectives. Cubism's depiction of space, mass, time, and volume supports the flatness of the canvas.

The critical use of the word "cube" goes back at least to May 1901 when Jean Béral commented on the work of Henri-Edmond Cross (French painter) "Henri uses a large and square pointillism, giving the impression of mosaic "One even wonders why the artist has not used cubes of solid matter diversely colored: they would make pretty revetments".

Another primary influence that led to Cubism was the representation of three-dimensional form in the late works (1904-1907) of Paul Cézanne.

The term Cubism did not come into general usage until 1911, mainly with reference to Metzinger, Gleizes, Delaunay, and Léger.

The first and the clearest theoretical treatise on Cubism.

Metzinger and Gleizes wrote and published Du "Cubisme" in an effort to dispel the confusion raging around the word. Clarifying their aims as artists, this work was the first and the clearest theoretical treatise on Cubism.

The concept of Cubism declared in Du "Cubisme" is observing a subject from different points in space and time simultaneously. Cubism is the act of moving around an object to seize it from several successive angles fused into a single image.

Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque were the groundbreaking pioneers of Cubism. By 1911 Picasso was recognized as the inventor of Cubism, while Braque's importance and precedence were argued later.

Picasso and Braque gained the support of an art dealer in Paris, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, who guaranteed them an annual income for the exclusive right to buy and sell their works to a small circle of connoisseurs.

In contrast, Metzinger and the other Salon Cubists built their reputation primarily by exhibiting regularly at "The Salon d'Automne" and "The Salon des Indépendants", both major non-academic Salons in Paris. The Salon Cubists were inevitably more aware of public response.

The first organized group exhibition by Cubists.

The first organized group exhibition by Cubists took place at the Salon "des Indépendants" in Paris during the spring of 1911, it included works by Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes, Fernand Léger, Robert Delaunay and Henri Le Fauconnier, yet no works by Picasso or Braque were exhibited.

The first public controversy generated by Cubism resulted from Salon showings at "The Indépendants" during the spring of 1911. This showing by Metzinger, Gleizes, Delaunay, le Fauconnier, and Léger brought Cubism to the attention of the general public for the first time.

From 1911 to 1914, Metzinger, Gleizes, and Jacques Villon established what they called "La Section d'Or". La Section d'Or was a collective of painters, sculptors, and critics associated with Cubism, The group's title was suggested by Villon, after reading a 1910 translation of "Leonardo da Vinci's Trattato della Pittura" by Joséphin Péladan.

The Section d'Or first impact was their controversial showing at the 1911 Salon des Indépendants.

In October 1912, La Section d'Or exhibition at "The Galerie La Boétie" in Paris, was the most important pre-World War I Cubist exhibition, exposing Cubism to a wide audience.

La Section d'Or represented a wider definition of Cubism than Cubism developed in parallel by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, in the Montmartre quarter of Paris, and to show Cubism to the public rather than being an isolated art form.

The most extreme forms of Cubism.

The most extreme forms of Cubism were not those practiced by Picasso and Braque, who resisted total abstraction. Other Cubists, by contrast, especially František Kupka, accepted abstraction by removing visible subject matter entirely.

Abstract Cubism was about writing a new "pure" painting in which the subject was vacated.

Crystal Cubism...

Between 1914 and 1916, The art dealer and collector Léonce Rosenberg contracted a group of artists to offshoot cubism into a significant modification towards depicting the subjects in the form of large overlapping geometric planes and flat surface activity.

The tightening of the compositions, the clarity, and the sense of order reflected in these works led to its being referred to by the critic Maurice Raynal as 'crystal' Cubism.

Jean Metzinger, 1912–1913, L'Oiseau bleu, (The Blue Bird), oil on canvas, 230 x 196 cm, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
Jean Metzinger, 1912–1913, L'Oiseau bleu, (The Blue Bird), oil on canvas, 230 x 196 cm, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

Cubism By Jean Metzinger.

On 24 June 1883 the major 20th-century French painter Jean Dominique Antony Metzinger was born, Metzinger along with Albert Gleizes wrote the first theoretical work on Cubism.

Metzinger took his first artistic steps influenced by the neo-Impressionism of Georges Seurat and Henri-Edmond Cross. Metzinger worked in the Divisionist and Fauvist styles with a strong Cézannian effect, which led him to create some of the first proto-Cubist works.

From 1908 Metzinger experimented with the faceting of form, The idea of moving around an object in order to see it from different viewpoints, which will be later known as cubism, is treated, for the first time, in Metzinger's "Note sur la Peinture", published in 1910.

Jean Metzinger and Albert Gleizes wrote the first major treatise on Cubism in 1912, entitled Du "Cubisme". Metzinger was a founding member of "The Section d'Or group of artists."

By 1903, Metzinger was a keen participant in the Neo-Impressionist revival led by Henri-Edmond Cross. By 1904–05, Metzinger began to favor the abstract styles of larger brushstrokes and vivid colors.

Following the lead of Seurat and Cross, he began incorporating a new geometry into his works. Metzinger developed what was named "Crystal Cubism".

Cubism mathematics in Art...

Metzinger shed light on the importance of mathematics in art, through a radical geometrization of form as an underlying architectural basis for his compositions.

Metzinger and Robert Delaunay were singled out by the art critic (Louis Vauxcelles) in 1907 to create Divisionism paintings with large, mosaic-like 'cubes' and to construct small but highly symbolic compositions.

Metzinger's interest in the work of Cézanne integrated Metzinger in the transformation from Divisionism to Cubism. By 1908 Metzinger started the fracturing of form and the artistic representation of the subject with complex multiple views.

The cubism structures created by Metzinger.

The cubism structures Metzinger was composing are stripped of everything that was known before him... Each complicated composition in Metzinger's paintings declares a sophisticated analysis of the word "Art".

Metzinger turned his attention fully towards the geometric abstraction of form and allowed the viewer to reconstruct the original volume mentally and to imagine the object within space.

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