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Cubism and Neo-Classicism: Paris 1910-1950

Whitford Fine Art, 2004. £12.00

CUBISM AND NEO-CLASSICISM: PARIS 1910-1950
is a generic name that has been given to a varied range of art produced between 1907 and the middle or late 1920s. Its vocation was to create 'tableaux-objects' or impersonal, objective recreations of reality. In doing so, the Picasso and Braque invented a system of dissecting the third dimension in order to be able to project it on the two-dimensional surface of the canvas.
Of course there is a great difference between the Cubism of Picasso, Braque and Gris and that of other painters. This difference is based ultimately on the degree to which the artist in question succeeded in breaking with the European tradition of illusion; and the formal means associated with this break also indirectly involved a choice of subject matter. However, those artists who did not break with illusionism in a stylistically coherent way were nevertheless the creators of another sort of Cubism, different form that of Picasso, Braque and Gris, but equally valid as a style. In fact, the pre-1914 works of Gleizes, La Fresnay, Le Fauconnier, Metzinger, Lhote and many others, reveal in almost every case a still illustionistic conception. The same artists later usually followed one of two courses, either like Gleizes, they assimilated the style of the leaders and followed in their wake; or like Lhote they returned to traditionalism. During the 1920s the creators of Cubism reacted against it with Neo-Classicism. Picasso painted his first classical bathers in 1920 and Braque followed in 1925.

The works presented in this catalogue show this development and the influences of both movements. The works dating before 1925 are all Cubist, including examples by Survage, Lhote, Metzinger, and Gleizes. The works dating after 1925 fall into two categories. First we present works in the Cubist style by artists who played an active part in Cubism in its early developments, such as Marcoussis and Survage. Additionally we offer works by Neo-classicists such as Jean Souverbie, Roger Bissière and Jean de Botton, who were initially influenced by Cubism.

Whilst Cubism was daring and avant-garde, Neo-classicism harked back to the traditional values of painting, however most French artists of that period have been involved with both movements.


Adrian Mibus, October 2004