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Albert Gleizes

Albert Léon Gleizes

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Albert Gleizes (French: [glɛz]; 8 December 1881 – 23 June 1953) was a French artist, theoretician, philosopher, a self-proclaimed founder of Cubism and an influence on the School of Paris. Albert Gleizes and Jean Metzinger wrote the first major treatise on Cubism, Du "Cubisme", 1912. Gleizes was a founding member of the Section d'Or group of artists. He was also a member of Der Sturm, and his many theoretical writings were originally most appreciated in Germany, where especially at the Bauhaus his ideas were given thoughtful consideration. Gleizes spent four crucial years in New York, and played an important role in making America aware of modern art. He was a member of the Society of Independent Artists, founder of the Ernest-Renan Association, and both a founder and participant in the Abbaye de Créteil. Gleizes exhibited regularly at Léonce Rosenberg’s Galerie de l’Effort Moderne in Paris; he was also a founder, organizer and director of Abstraction-Création. From the mid-1920s to the late 1930s much of his energy went into writing, e.g., La Peinture et ses lois (Paris, 1923), Vers une conscience plastique: La Forme et l’histoire (Paris, 1932) and Homocentrisme (Sablons, 1937).

Born Albert Léon Gleizes and raised in Paris, he was the son of a fabric designer who ran a large industrial design workshop. He was also the nephew of Léon Comerre, a successful portrait painter who won the 1875 Prix de Rome. The young Albert Gleizes did not like school and often skipped classes to idle away the time writing poetry and wandering through the nearby Montmartre cemetery. Finally, after completing his secondary schooling, Gleizes spent four years in the 72nd Infantry Regiment of the French army (Abbeville, Picardie) then began pursuing a career as a painter. Gleizes began to paint self-taught around 1901 in the Impressionist tradition. His first landscapes from around Courbevoie appear particularly inspired by Alfred Sisley or Camille Pissarro. Although clearly related to Pissarro in technique, Gleizes' particular view-points as well as the composition and conception of early works represent a clear departure from the style of late Impressionism. The density with which these works are painted and their solid framework suggest affinities with Divisionism which were often noted by early critics.

Gleizes was only twenty-one years of age when his work titled La Seine à Asnières was exhibited at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1902. The following year Gleizes exhibited two paintings at the Salon d'Automne. In 1905 Gleizes was among the founders of l'Association Ernest-Renan, a union of students opposed to military propaganda. Gleizes was in charge of the Section littéraire et artistique, organizing theater productions and poetry readings. At the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon (Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, 1906), Gleizes exhibited Jour de marché en banlieue. Tending towards 1907 his work evolved into a Post-Impressionist style with strong Naturalist and Symbolist components.

Gleizes and others decide to create an association fraternelle d'artistes and rent a large house in Créteil. The Abbaye de Créteil was a self-supporting community of artists that aimed to develop their art free of any commercial concerns. For nearly a year, Gleizes along with other painters, poets, musicians and writers, gathered to create. A lack of income forced them to give up their cherished Abbaye de Créteil in early 1908 and Gleizes moved to 7 rue du Delta near Montmartre, Paris, with artists Amedeo Modigliani, Henri Doucet (fr), Maurice Drouart and Geo Printemps.

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