Arbres et Maisons, 1920
Signed lower left
Oil on canvas
23 x 36 in, 58.5 x 91.5 cm
Metzinger belonged to a generation of cubist artists who succeeded in radically altering the direction of modern painting. From 1908 he exhibited regularly at the Salon d’Indépendants and Salon d’Automne...
Metzinger belonged to a generation of cubist artists who succeeded in radically altering the direction of modern painting. From 1908 he exhibited regularly at the Salon d’Indépendants and Salon d’Automne where he met his closest allies Le Fauconnier, Léger, Delaunay and Gleizes. The group sought to move beyond Post-Impressionism and the visual imitation of the world, developing a new pictorial system that evoked the complex sensory experiences of contemporary life. Together they co-ordinated the first official presentation of cubism in the highly controversial 'Salle 41'.
Over the following years Metzinger earned his reputation as the 'Emperor of Cubism' (Andre Salmon, Paris journal 1911). Of the five original ‘Salon Cubists’ he was the only member to become acquainted with Pablo Picasso, in whose work he identified a new form of mobile perspective. The technique revolutionised painting and became the founding principle behind the first Cubist manifesto, 'Du Cubisme’, co-authored by Metzinger in 1912. Three years later he caught the attention of the eminent dealer Leonce Rosenberg. Rosenberg’s interest in “crystal Cubism” influenced Metzinger greatly, leading him to develop a purified cubist style between 1919 and 1921.
'Arbres et Maisons' belongs to a series of stark landscapes created during these years. Professor Daniel Robbins has asserted that the paintings “attain a sense of balance, harmony and even mystery that deserves recognition as an important achievement in Metzinger’s career.” Certain formal attributes - such as the pattern used to signify separate spatial planes and the sharp delineation between curvilinear and geometric edges – continued to reappear throughout his later work. These elements, which were adopted by many other cubist and futurist artists, distinguish him as one of leading innovators of plastic form.
Although he accomplished many professional achievements during his lifetime, Metzinger also experienced great sadness. The death of his wife during the First World War was followed shortly by the passing of his daughter. As a result the paintings before 1918 are often more playful – incorporating sailboats, jewellery and costumes - whilst those executed after this time, such as 'Arbres et Maisons', are considered to hold greater emotional resonance.
Leonce Rosenberg, Paris
Mr and Mrs Alex E. Engelman, USA
Chicago, International Galleries, 'Modern Masters', 1961
Chicago, International Galleries, 'Metzinger: Pre-cubist and cubist works 1900-1930', 1961
Paris, National Post Museum, 'Du Cubisme et Après', 9th May - 22nd September 2012
'Modern Masters', International Galleries, Chicago (1961), no. 35, ill. p.21
'Metzinger: Pre-cubist and cubist works 1900-1930', International Galleries, Chicago (1961), no. 11, ill. p. 20
This work is to be included in the 'Catalogue raisonné des oeuvre de Jean Metzinger' being prepared by M. Bozena Nikiel.
This painting is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from M. Bozena Nikiel dated 21 February 2011