THE HISTORY AND CHRONOLOGY OF CUBISM Page: 5
History and Chronology of Cubism:


The most important single Cubist exhibition was that of the Section d'Or at the Galerie de la Boétie in October 1912. In the previous year the Cubists and a large number of their friends had exhibited at the Galerie de l'Art Contemporain in the rue Tronchet, under the auspices of the Société Normande de PeintureModerne Moderne. This exhibition had received little attention in. the press, though l'Autorité and Paris Journal had referred to it as an 'exposition des fauves et cubistes', no doubt through a confusion of terms, but also partly because this seemed the only way of describing the manifold tendencies represented, which were as divergent as at Brussels. The Section d'Or, on the other hand, was generally accepted as being Cubist in character. Over 200 works were shown, and the fact that all the artists showed paintings representative of their development during the previous three years gave the exhibition an added air of being a Cubist demonstration. Since Picasso and Braque had not exhibited for some time, and since they had not taken part in the manifestations at the Salon des Inddpendants and the Salon d'Automne, the public were not in a position to realize that their abstention deprived the Section d'Or of much of its meaning. The idea of the Section d'Or seems to have originated in the course of conversations between Gleizes, Metzinger and Jacques Villon at Puteaux and Courbevoie. Jacques Villon, who was older than the others and seems on that account to have enjoyed a certain authority, is generally credited with having suggested the title. On the 2nd of September 1912 Gil Blas announced that Marcel Duchamp was planning to send to the forthcoming Salon d'Automne a painting which was also to be called La Section d'Or. All the Duchamp brothers were at this time passionately interested in mathematics; Jacques Villon was engaged in reading Leonardo Trattato della Pittura, while Marcel Duchamp was a close friend of an amateur mathematician named Maurice Princet, so that it is not surprising that they should have been responsible for introducing a more scientific note into Cubist discussions. The choice of La Section d'Or as a title for the exhibition of the group of painters who appeared at the Galerie de la Boétie seems to indicate some dissatisfaction with the term Cubism as applied to their work, and was probably intended to imply that the paintings shown had a more profound and rational basis. Perhaps it was felt also to have a wider, more general Moderne. This exhibition had received little attention in. the press, though l'Autorité and Paris Journal had referred to it as an 'exposition des fauves et cubistes', no doubt through a confusion of terms, but also partly because this seemed the only way of describing the manifold tendencies represented, which were as divergent as at Brussels. The Section d'Or, on the other hand, was generally accepted as being Cubist in character. Over 200 works were shown, and the fact that all the artists showed paintings representative of their development during the previous three years gave the exhibition an added air of being a Cubist demonstration. Since Picasso and Braque had not exhibited for some time, and since they had not taken part in the manifestations at the Salon des Inddpendants and the Salon d'Automne, the public were not in a position to realize that their abstention deprived the Section d'Or of much of its meaning. The idea of the Section d'Or seems to have originated in the course of conversations between Gleizes, Metzinger and Jacques Villon at Puteaux and Courbevoie. Jacques Villon, who was older than the others and seems on that account to have enjoyed a certain authority, is generally credited with having suggested the title. On the 2nd of September 1912 Gil Blas announced that Marcel Duchamp was planning to send to the forthcoming Salon d'Automne a painting which was also to be called La Section d'Or. All the Duchamp brothers were at this time passionately interested in mathematics; Jacques Villon was engaged in reading Leonardo Trattato della Pittura, while Marcel Duchamp was a close friend of an amateur mathematician named Maurice Princet, so that it is not surprising that they should have been responsible for introducing a more scientific note into Cubist discussions. The choice of La Section d'Or as a title for the exhibition of the group of painters who appeared at the Galerie de la Boétie seems to indicate some dissatisfaction with the term Cubism as applied to their work, and was probably intended to imply that the paintings shown had a more profound and rational basis. Perhaps it was felt also to have a wider, more general meaning. The three organizers, however, and many of the painters most directly concerned, were at this period working in a Cubist idiom.

If the Cubists had been surprised by the violent reactions which they had aroused previously, they seem to have been anxious to attract as much attention as possible with this exhibition. The Vernissage was held from nine until midnight, for which the only precedent was the initial opening of the Salon d'Automne in 1903. Invitations were issued to vast numbers of people, and many of the guests had to be turned away. Lectures by Apollinaire, Hourcade and Raynal were advertised, and a review, La Section d'Or, was published to coincide with the opening; it was edited by Pierre Dumont and numbered Apollinaire, Reverdy, Max Jacob, Maurice Raynal, Salmon, Warnod and Hourcade among its contributors.

As in previous exhibitions, artists like Alcide le Beau, Segonzac and Luc Albert Moreau, whose paintings were related to Cubism only in a most general way, were invited to show, and the title may have been chosen partly to allow for this. But as opposed to the exhibition of the Société Normande de Peinture Moderne of the previous year, the majority of the artists showing at the Section d'Or were Cubists or painters directly influenced by the movement, and the effect made must have been concentrated. Furthermore, the fact that the exhibition was organized to show the successive stages through which Cubism had passed indicates that the painters were attempting to make their work as comprehensible as possible to the public, and their purpose must have been further served by the demonstration of the affinities between Cubism and the more readily understandable paintings of other artists who shared only a few of their pictorial concerns. The exhibition was undoubtedly a great success, and it put Cubism on the map more than any other exhibition that preceded it.

This same desire to render Cubism more intelligible to the general public, and to define and clarify the movement generally, led Gleizes and Metzinger in the autumn of 1911 to collaborate in writing the book Du Cubisme, which appeared in August 1912. Salmon La Jeune Peinture Contemporaine, which contained an Histoire anécdotique du Cubisme, was published in the following month. Earlier in 1912 Apollinaire had written a series of articles for Les Soirées de Paris and these were gathered together with some additional material to form the bulk of his Les Peintres Cubistes which was issued in March of the meaning. The three organizers, however, and many of the painters most directly concerned, were at this period working in a Cubist idiom.

If the Cubists had been surprised by the violent reactions which they had aroused previously, they seem to have been anxious to attract as much attention as possible with this exhibition. The Vernissage was held from nine until midnight, for which the only precedent was the initial opening of the Salon d'Automne in 1903. Invitations were issued to vast numbers of people, and many of the guests had to be turned away. Lectures by Apollinaire, Hourcade and Raynal were advertised, and a review, La Section d'Or, was published to coincide with the opening; it was edited by Pierre Dumont and numbered Apollinaire, Reverdy, Max Jacob, Maurice Raynal, Salmon, Warnod and Hourcade among its contributors.


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