Friday, November 2, 2012

Metzinger, Jean

Woman with a Fan
oil on canvas
92.7 x 65.7 cm (36 1/2 x 25 7/8 in.)
Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, USA

Jean Metzinger (1883 - 1956) was a French artist, painter, theorist, writer, critic and poet, born in Nantes, France, where he spent his entire youth. At the age of twenty he moved to Paris to pursue a career as a painter. About 1908 he met the writer Max Jacob, who introduced him to Guillaume Apollinaire and his circle, which included Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. Picasso was to have a significant influence on Metzinger from this time to about 1923.
In 1910 and 1911 he published several articles on contemporary painting and afterward periodically contributed to the literature on Modern art. He was the first to note in print that Picasso and Braque had dismissed traditional perspective and merged multiple views of an object in a single image; his article on this subject appeared in 1910.

Metzinger was in many ways an exemplary avant-gardist: intellectually acute, athirst for originality, culturally elitist and ambitious. It will be shown that these various factors coupled with his early interests in mathematics, geometry especially, impelled the novel approach visible in these early works. As a sensitive and intelligent theoretician of Cubism, he sought to communicate the principles of this movement through his paintings as well as his writings. He is best known for his contributions to modern art as a member of the Cubist movement; less known for his contributions made to modern art prior to the development of Cubism.

His work developed in parallel with the 'mechanical world' of Fernand Léger from 1924 to 1930. Throughout these years he continued to retain his own marked artistic individuality, with firmly constructed pictures, brightly colored and visually metaphoric works, consisting of urban and still-life subject-matter, with clear references to science and technology. Following the mechanized paintings of the late 1920s, until his death in 1956, he turned towards a more classical approach to painting with elements of Surrealism and Cubism. The works of this period - perhaps to a greater extent than his Neo-Impressionist paintings leading up to 1908 - have been imprudently neglected by critics, curators and art historians.