GLEIZES Albert
'All the figures in the pictures of Albert Gleizes are not the same figure, all trees are not the tree, all rivers, river; but the spectator, if he aspires to generality, can readily generalize figure, tree or river, because the work of the painter has raised these objects to a superior degree of plasticity in which all the elements making up individual characters are represented with the same dramatic majesty.' Metzinger
( 1881-1953). Born in Paris, died in Avignon; descended from a family that was half southern French and half Flemish, Gleizes was both painter and writer; his life was inextricably linked with the evolution of Cubism, and he was the exponent of its theory. He began to paint in 1901, in the Impressionist style. In 1906, however, he began to seek 'a simplification of colour, in accordance with his desire to simplify form', and thus turned naturally toward Cubism. In 1901 he exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants (The Tree) and at the Salon d'Automne, and in 1911 he was one of the exhibitors in the famous Cubist Room at the Salon des Indépendants. At the Salon d'Automne in the same year his Portrait of Nayral had a succès de scandale. In 1912 Gleizes published, together with Metzinger, the book On Cubism. This was the most important work up to then on the theory of the new movement (see Cubism). Gleizes and Metzinger, important as they were at this exploratory stage in the development of Cubism, did not have the eventual importance of a painter to whom Apollinaire gave a somewhat grudging recognition: Juan Gris.
Gleizes exhibited in Moscow and Barcelona, at the Armory Show in New York in 1913, and at the first Autumn Salon in Berlin. After being called up in 1914, he painted several pictures on military themes. When he was discharged he went to America, and during his stay there, in 1917, he had a religious revelation. Upon his return to France he continued his experiments in technique, and in 1923 set them down in a book, Painting and Its Laws, which was a study of the objective laws of art based on the religious experience of the Middle Ages. He proclaimed the impending return of the Christian era, and endeavoured to develop in objective technique that would be easily transmissible, so that painters should have the means of praising God. To this end he worked out a scientific discipline ordered by a whole philosophical framework. In the logical course of his research he came across Romanesque art, about which he wrote works full of insight, and he endeavoured to put artistic creation at the service of the highest ambitions of Catholicism. In 1932 he published L'Homocentricity ou Retour à l'Homme Chrétien (Homoncentricity, or Return to Christian Man) and Forms and History, a vast work in which he set himself the task of showing the superiority of an art based on religious thought and expressing movement and life by means of symbolic rhythms. While remaining faithful to the spirit of Cubism, Gleizes applied himself to defining quasi-impersonal modes of expression which constituted the language of a new type of mural painting. He returned to his former themes, transposing them in this spirit, and he was not afraid to present a modern version of the compositions dear to the Middle Ages -- a majestic Christ or Virgin, popes and emperors. From 1939 on Gleizes lived in retirement at SaintRémy-de-Provence, continuing to exert a marked influence, by his writings and lectures as well as by his paintings and his example, on many groups of young artists and artisans in the Rhône Valley. His last important work was the illustration of the Pensées of Pascal, consisting of fiftyseven original etchings.
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