Our gallery in Japan deals in cubic paintings.
Cubism Gallery Asada
October2 - November 14,1976
The National Museum of Modern Art,Tokyo.
There is no need to repeat here that Cubism which began in France early in this century played an extremely important role in the development of modern art.This innovative movement started by Picasso and Braque aimed at establishing a new plastic order completely different from the one which had existed up to that time,and it brought about a great revolution in visual representation.Cubism had a widespread,tremendous influence on art following it,but of course Cubism did not appear by itself suddenly out of nowhere.Early 20th century Europe was in many senses at a great turining point,and in art as well innovative art movements were appearing one after another all over the continent such as Fauvism in France,a forerunner of Cubism,expressionists such as the Brucke and the Blaue Reiter in Germany,and Futurism in Italy. It is needless to say that this spirit of innovation had gradually been evolving since the Inter half of the 19th century.
There are several opinions concerning when cubism began,but I feel it rather appropriate to regard the year 1907 as its starting point.This was the year in which the poet Apollinaire introduced Picasso to Braque who was almost as old as Picasso.It is widely known that at that time both Picasso and Braque were influenced greatly by Cezanne.
It need hardly be mentioned that Cezanne stood at the juncture.of the 19th and 20th centuries,and solidly constructed an ordered and ballanced world of art. He surpassed the visual realism of the Impressionists,ignored the traditional roles of perspective,and effectively used a self-controlling function in form and color.Cezanne remark that "Nature should be handled with the cylinder,sphere and cone" is famous,but Picasso and Braque followed Cezanne's lead,and up to that time had searched separately for new plastic forms by their own respective means apart from each other.But after this encounter, Cubism advanced rapidly.Also in the same year, a retrospective exhibition of Cezanne was held at the salon d'Automne.
Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon,1907
It was also in the same year that Picasso completed "Les Demoiselles d'Aviginion" in the atelier of his Monmartre apartment house that was called the"Bateau Lavoir"a little while before meeting Braque.This is an important work which foretold the future development of Cubism,and along with Cezanne's influence a new search appeared due to suggestions from African negro sculpture.Gaugin first found new value in the primitive,but in those days it was not just he and Picasso who had an interest in negro sculpture; Fauvists such as Matisse,Vlaminck,and Derain also had strong interest in negro sculpture and even collected it. Nevertheless,PicassoÅfs interest was different from the others.Picasso used negro sculpture as a clue to part from traditional anatomical human physical structure,and derived a form which combined elements seen from many different angles.Leaving the tradition of seizing natural objects from.single.angle under the laws of perspective,a tradition which had existed since the Renaissance,and while shifting the viewing point of the object to different positions,at the same time dividing it into many fragments seen from various angles,and rearranging these fragments later became an important characteristics of Cubism.
In 1908,Braque in Estaque in Southern France and Picasso at La Ruedes-Bois attempted constructing a spatial order,by the use of restrained colors and by reducing natural forms.Some people even regard the works of this period as Cubism in the style of Cezanne.In the same year,Braque held a one-man show at the Kahnweiler Gallery,and it is said that the word"cube"used in a review by Louis Vauxcelles at that time was the origin of the term "Cubism".From 1909 to 1910 both Picasso and Braque advanced even further in dismantling the object through Cubism,which tried to depict the reality of an object without using the traditional laws of perspective or shading.What we may term"Analytic Cubism"reached its peak at around 1911;objects which did not even have clear outlines appeared and the object became remarkably different from what it looked like in nature.Cubism began to paint,as Apollinaire said,"not from visual reality but from the reality of the concept."It is because of this that Cubism is said to be conceptual and intellectual,in contrast to the phenomenalistic and sensualistic tendencies of its precessor,Fauvism."He(the viewer)is delighted by the intellectual and sensuous appeal of an internally consistent pictorial structure".(Edward Fry)In fact,on seeing Picasso's"Portrait of Vollard"(1909-10),we may say that"if social and historical factors can for a moment be forgotten,a portrait by Renoir will seem closer to a portrait by Raphael than it does to a Cubist portrait by Picasso"(Golding)
Given impetus,by Picasso and Braque,Cubism violently shocked art circles,and its influence spread rapidly after that.In the salon des Independants of spring,1911,works of GIeizes,Metzinger,Legr,Andre Lhote,La Fresnaye,La Fauconnier,and Delaunay,and others were collected and exhibited in the 41st Room,and this became the first great group exhibition of Cubism.Again in the same year Gleizes,Leger,Metzinger,Lhote,Jacques Villon,Marcel Duchamp,La Fresnaye,Le Fauconnier exhibited their works at the salon d'Automne,embroiling positive and negative opinions in fervent debate.Since Braque and Picasso did not participate greatly in the Salons of Paris,the tern Cubism came into general use through these great group exhibitions.People like Apollinaire played a large hand in this spread of Cubism,and Gleizes and Metzinger's book"On Cubism"(1912)exerted a great deal of influence on a theoretical level.Nevertheless,this book instead that Cubist paintings must be nonÅ]decorative and selfÅ]controlled,and that form in Cubism was the expression of an idea.There are considerable differences in nuance between Braque and Picasso on one hand and the other artists on the other,but each artist sought through his own individual method for a new order in plastic art,by departing from traditional visual senses,and by overlapping planes,piling and dividing them into massive,multi surfaced fragments.
On the other hand,Picasso and Braque began to enter a new phase from around 1912.The extremely suppressed colors began to regain their richness,and the shape of objects became somewhat easier to recognize.Braque painted the grain of wood in the trope-l' oeil style,and both Braque and Picasso began each in his turn to experiment with the papier colleby pasting already printed paper on canvas.Thus,the stage of Picasso and Braque,Synthetic Cubism was arrived at.The invention of papier colleseems to have been in order to introduced a new sense of material into Cubist paintings,but the collage developed from papier colle caused the introduction of various concrete items onto the surface of the canvas,and opened a completely new realm in art.Needless to say "tableau-object",or "the painting as object" meant a departure from the traditional concept of space in painting.And it is also well known that collage,via Dada and Surrealism,is broadly and profoundly linked with contemporary art.
Paralleling the change of Picasso and Braque's Cubism to the stage of Synthetic Cubism,various differentiated processes began to appear in the rapidly developed Cubism.A Cubist-group exhibit even appeared in the Salon des Independants of 1912,and the section d'or exhibition held in the Boetie Gallery in October of the same year is regarded as another important demonstration.This exhibition was held with Jacques Villon as its central figure, and his brothers, Ducham = Villon and Marcel Duchamp,Gleizes,Metzinger,Picabia,Lhote,La Fresnaye,Leger,Marcoussis and Gris also participated.Apollinaire made a lecture at this exhibit which was later recorded in his book"Cubist Painters",published the following year.It has been said with regard to this exhibition,that"the differences between Metzinger and Picasso are clearer than those which separated Renior and Cezanne,moreover the differences between Fernand Leger and Marcel Duchamp,Picabia and La Fresnaye,or A.Gleizes and Juan Gris are even more conspicuous"(Maurice Raynal)Thus an evident differentiation due to the individuality of each individual artist had clearly appeared.This fact can also be understood as an attempt to strike off in a new direction by those who felt that Synthetic Cubism a kind of fallÅ]back whose from had begun to revive.
Juan Gris who is regarded as the proto type Cubist following to Picasso and Braque adopted ,collage very early and developed a unique dense Cubist style.Gris preserved the original form of the object more strictly combined varied,complex planes and introduced fine portions of section d'or into his composition.Fernand Leger studied Cezanne from a different angle than Picasso and Braque and tried to express modern rhythms and mechanisms by a fundamental use of cylindrical forms,and by contrasts of color and of straight and curved lines: this was also referred, to as"Cubism mechanics".Robert Delaunay touched upon Cubism in his series of refracted works entitled"Effel Tower".He sought for a brilliant intercourse of light and colors,and for musical rhythms,and set off in the non-figurative direction named"Orphism"by Apollinaire in 1913.While Picasso and Braque consistently treated a static world as their object,Duchamp and La Fresnaye aimed at the expression of everyday dynamics,but a pursuit of dynamics to reflect the machine civilization could also be seen in Italian Futurism of the same period.
"During 1913 and 1914 so many artists in Paris had turned to Cubism that it temporarily became the universal language of avant-garde painting"(Fry)It is also quite clear that Cubism exerted a widespread,tremendous influence as it was introduced to various areas of Europe and to New York,and from the examples of Paul Klee of Blaue Reiter,Severing of Futurism,MaIevitch of Suprematism and from one period of Chagall's,work.
Originally Cubism arose from the problems in the two dimensional world of painting,and it also influenced sculpture by Archipenko,Lipchitz,Laurens,Zadkine and others.But in sculpture,essentially a concrete three dimensional form,Cubism did not present as innovative a sense as it did in painting,yet nevertheless it had great significance as being the predecessor of antiÅ]naturalistic sculpture.
With such wide diversification in Cubism,it is far more difficult to decide how far we may apply the term Cubism than to think about its starting point.John Golding,widely known as author of the book "Cubism", stops his history and analysts of cubism, at 1914,the year when World War I started.
Braque. Le Portugais (the Emigrant).
Certainly Picasso and Gris were not mobilized but Braque and many other
artists responded to the call and were rushed to the front.The Cubist
movement inevitably had to undergo a great stagnation and change.After
that,however,Picasso,while on the one hand showing a new-classical metamorphosis,created
such typical works of Synthetic Cubism as"The Three Musicians"(1921).Braque,Leger
and Gris in their turn also developed individually mature Synthetic Cubism.Ozenfant
and Jeanneret(Le Corbusier)published"After Cubism"(1918)and advocated
a theoretical and functional Purism as a newly developed form of Cubism
to make the structure follow a pure order. Consequently if we consider
Cubism to be an extensive general term,we may regard it as a wideÅ]ranging
art movement that lasted from 1907 until the middle of the 1920Åfs.There
we can see various individual developments,each fairly different from
the others the others,but in general,we can say that it was a departure
from traditional, visual realism, and an autonomous establishment of painting
based on new principles of form. Braque's famous saying,"Senses deform,and
the spirit forms"expresses this directly.At the same time,Cubism is a
new form of realism from the standpoint of its attempt from the reality
of the object within the mind,and its distinction from the abstract art
also lies in this point.Furthermore,Cubism has an even closer relationship
with contemporary art through the collage,which started from papier
Cooper 1970 Cooper,Douglas. The Cubist Epoch.London:
Phaidon, in association with Los Angeles Country Museum of Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art,1970.