SECTION D'OR (Golden Section)
The year 1912 marked the passage from Analytic Cubism to Synthetic Cubism and witnessed the movement's widespread propagation. Gleizes and Metzinger published the first doctrinal work devoted to the new movement. In the course of the autumn, the historic exhibition of the Section d'Or at the La Boétie Gallery in Paris gathered together in one vast collection all Cubism's adherents -- with the sole exception of its two creators, Braque and Picasso, who showed their works only at the Kahnweiler Gallery. The exhibition included not only Juan Gris, Léger, Gleizes, Metzinger, Lhote, Delaunay, Marcoussis and Roger de La Fresnaye, but also Marcel Duchamp, Jacques Villon, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Dumont, and Agero. Many of these painters retained only the superficial appearance of Cubism, the geometrical fragmentation of the painted surface, and later turned in opposite directions, some going back to traditional formulae, while others were borne away by abstract currents or Dada experiments, but the unity of their search was based on a common admiration for Cézanne and his constructive lesson. The initiative and the title of this exhibition, which created a considerable stir, were due to the painter and engraver Jacques Villon. In his studio at Puteaux, near Paris, a number of artists passionately interested in problems of rhythm and proportion met on Sunday afternoons, among them the two theoreticians of Cubism, Gleizes and Metzinger, Picabia, Léger La Fresnaye, as well as the poets Paul Fort, Ribemont-Dessaignes, Jean Cocteau and Joachim Gasquet. Villon developed his theory of vision by pyramids, taken from Leonardo da Vinci, and suggested during these meetings the title of 'Section d'Or', borrowed from the treatise of the Bolognese monk Luca Pacioli, The Divine Proportion, published in Venice in 1509 and illustrated by Leonardo himself. Formulated by Vitruvius and taken up again during the Renaissance, the golden section or divine proportion (or gate of harmony) is the ideal relation between two magnitudes, expressed numerically as and demonstrated in many masterpieces of different arts, applied consciously or, more often, by instinct. 'There is,' Voltaire said, 'a hidden geometry in all the arts that the hand produces.' Although the golden section was not the only constant to which the Cubists referred for the mathematical organization of their canvas, it reflected the profound need for order and measure that they felt more through sensibility and reason than as a result of calculation. Distorted by the incomprehension or bad faith of critics, the 'Section d'Or' exhibition met with immense avant-garde success in France and abroad, and constituted a general rally under the sign of Cézannian architecture and geometrical discipline.

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