In May 1916 Gleizes travelled from his home in New York to Barcelona with his wife. Joined in June by Marie Laurencin and Francis Picabia, the group spent the summer painting in the resort of Tossa del Mar. It was here that Gleizes created several series of works featuring Spanish dancers and circus performers, including acrobats, which he exhibited during his first solo show later that year at the Galeries Dalmau in Barcelona.
Filled with energy, 'Composition avec trois personnages: les acrobates' clearly shows Gleizes’ ongoing interest in capturing “sensations” with his unique form of Cubism. In 1912 Gleizes had co-written ‘Du Cubisme’ with Jean Metzinger, in which he emphasised the concept of ‘simultaneity’—the experience of movement, space and sensation. Here he has used the theme of acrobats, imagined through fragmented picture planes and geometric forms, to express the dynamism of modern life.
Whilst still working within the framework of Cubism, this work shows Gleizes adopting an increasingly abstract style. During his trip to Spain Gleizes significantly met with Robert Delaunay; discs, clearly derived from Delaunay, begin to appear in works such as this and the dark colours of his Cubist palette have been replaced with vivid oranges.
In addition to 'Les Acrobates' (1916), the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia owns another study from this important series, as does the Centre Pompidou Musée national d’Art moderne, Paris.
Private Collection, London
Leonard Hutton Galleries, New York
Sigrid Freundorfer Fine Art, New York
Private Collection, Canada (acquired in 1996)
Varichon, Anne. ALBERT GLEIZES: Catalogue Raisonné Volume I, Paris, Somogy, 1998 (cat no. 721, illustrated in colour on page 248)
This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by Pierre Alibert