Marc Chagall, Les portes du cimetière, 1917, oil on canvas.
For the first time since 1953 in France, the Centre Pompidou is devoting an exhibition to Cubism in the form of a broad overview of the history of the movement in Paris between 1907 and 1917.
The project's originality lies in its stated aim to broaden the traditional vision of the movement, which tends to focus on the big names – Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Fernand Léger and Pablo Picasso – to include secondary Cubists, such as Gleizes and Metzinger, or those who were a bit different, like Robert and Sonia Delaunay, Marcel Duchamp and Francis Picabia. They exhibited in the official Paris salons, while the pioneers of the movement reserved their experimental creations for just one young, unknown dealer, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler.
A bountiful collection of 300 works and important documents illustrating the movement’s influence are presented chronologically in fourteen chapters, highlights of which include the masterpieces, such as Picasso’s Portrait de Gertrude Stein (1905–1906) and those he did of Ambroise Vollard (1909) and Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (1910), as well as sets of paintings and sculptures never before exhibited together. These emphasise the convoluted development of Cubism, which was inspired by primitivist sources (the tribal sculptures collected by the artists) and the Cubists’ fascination with Gauguin and Cézanne. They illustrate the formal progression of the movement, from an initial Cézanne-influenced stage (Picasso’s exceptional still life Pains et compotier sur une table, 1909, is featured) to an analytical and hermetic approach (1910–1912) that then morphs into a more synthetic version of Cubism (1913–1917), marking the return of representation and colour.
(Image courtesy Centre Pompidou © Service de la documentation photographique du MNAM - Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI /Dist. RMN-GP © Adagp, Paris)