METZINGER Jean
French painter and writer; born in 1883 in Nantes, died in 1956. He began to paint at fifteen. The emotion he experienced before a picture by Ingres was at the root of his desire to paint. While continuing his studies, he achieved success in local exhibitions, and this incited him to devote himself entirely to painting and settle in Paris. He attended various academies, where the instruction disappointed him because it made painting dependent upon imitation of Nature or of the old masters. For Metzinger there could be no real relationship between the object that the picture constitutes and the other object it represents; the picture had no other value than the particular pleasure produced by its combination of forms and colours. In his search for the laws that govern these relations and control their effectiveness, Metzinger was first influenced by the Neo-Impressionists and then by the Fauves, who were occupied with the chemistry of colour and attempted to influence the aspect of the pictorial image. But desiring a more coherent construction, he endeavoured to discover the structure of objects. He joined the young painters who, from 1908 onwards, were working along similar lines in the wake of Picasso and Braque. At first Cubism was their common need to emerge from the old ambiguity and restore primal purity to artistic creation. Metzinger took part in the famous Salon des Indépendants of 1911 and in the meetings and exhibitions of the Section d'Or. With Gleizes, in 1912, he published On Cubism, the first theoretical work on the movement to be written by painters who participated in it. He took care, however, to avoid a purely abstract manner, endeavouring to express the general harmony of the model by emphasizing characteristic details. He helped to create one of the styles of the period, in which objects rendered by their surfaces are surrounded by a kind of halo that becomes a plane in itself. His work, which he has continued on the same principles until now, aided by a very sure technique, maintains remarkable unity and remains an example of what a sensitive human artist was able to draw from the Cubist "experiment.
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