Twentieth Century Painters: From Cubism to Abstract Art

Twentieth Century Painters: From Cubism to Abstract Art

Twentieth Century Painters: From Cubism to Abstract Art

Twentieth Century Painters: From Cubism to Abstract Art

Excerpt

"HE reaction against Cubism did not only take the form of a renewal of realism; it also favored a second growth of this Expressionism, still latent in modern painting since van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec. The years 1900-1910 saw the flowering of a first Expressionism which we studied in the first volume of this history of modern painting; a second Expressionism closely followed it whose different centers spring up mushroomlike here and there.

One of the most important was that which a renegade Cubist, Le Fauconnier, maintained at the Académie de la Palette. Taking part in the Salons where Cubism first made itself noticed, with a Portrait of Pierre-Jean Jouve , a very Cézannelike painting which he exhibited at the Salon d'Automne of 1909, Le Fauconnier refused the analytical form that this painting took and, in reaction, began to practise from 1912 onwards a brutally synthetic art which did not fall back before the deformations destined to simplify forms in order better to affirm their power and to explain more clearly their character as seen in his painting Tree dating from 1912. Revolting thus against the superstition with which his former comrades avoided the anecdote, he was not afraid to take on genre subjects and exhibited at the Salon d'Automne of 1912 his Mountaineers Attacked by Bears . This rehabilitation of subject matter and passion of character complemented their subjective interpretation; it is a specifically expressionist art that Le Fauconnier proposed to the pupils of the Académie de la Palette among whom were Yves Alix and Gromaire.

At la Ruche however--this strange edifice which housed the ateliers of Léger, Brancusi and Archipenko, and had been about 1906 one of the cradles of Cubism--Chaim Soutine, a young Jew recently arrived from Eastern Europe, installed himself about 1911. Soon friendly with Chagall and more so with Modigliani, who has left us an overwhelming effigy of him, Soutine is as sensitive to this expressionist manner adopted by his Italian co-religionist as he is by nature and religion marked by a certain uneasiness which is so evident in his painting. Soutine found a favorable soil in this milieu of uprooted and miserable foreigners who came in droves to Paris. Exile was therefore quite propitious to the development, in what was later considered "The School of Paris," of expressionist tendencies analagous to those which Soutine brought to their paroxysm.

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