Albert Gleizes (1881-1953)

Paysage Meudon

Albert Gleizes (1881-1953)
Gleizes, A.
Paysage Meudon
signed and dated 'Albert Gleizes 1911' (lower right); signed again and titled 'Alb Gleizes Paysage' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
57.5/8 x 45 in. (146.4 x 114.4 cm.)
Painted in 1911
Alphonse Kann, Saint-Germain-en-Laye.
Muse National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (on permanent exhibit).
Heirs of Alphonse Kann (restituted from the above in July 1997).
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
J. Golding, Cubism, London, 1959, p. 150.
B. Dorival, The School of Paris in the Muse d'Art Moderne, New York, 1962, p. 148 (illustrated).
P. Alibert, Albert Gleizes, naissance et avenir du cubisme, Saint-Etienne, 1982, pp. 13, 40 and 70 (illustrated).
A. de la Beaumelle and N. Pouillon, eds., La collection du Muse National d'Art Moderne, Paris, 1986, p. 247 and 248 (illustrated in color, p. 247).
H. Feliciano, The Lost Museum: The Nazi Conspiracy to Steal the Wolrd's Greatest Works of Art, New York, 1997, p. 225 (illustrated, p. C15).
A. Varichon, Albert Gleizes: Catalogue raisonn, Paris, 1998, vol. I, p. 135, no. 369 (illustrated in color).
Paris, Quai d'Orsay, Salon des Indpendants, April-June 1911, no. 2613 (as Le chemin).
Brussels, Place A. Stews, Brussels Indpendants: Delaunay, Gleizes, Lger, Le Fauconnier, June-July 1911, no. 88 (as Le chemin).
Barcelona, Galeries Dalmau, Exposicio d'art cubista, April-May 1912, no. 16.
Paris, Galerie La Botie (Helen Serger), La Section d'Or, October 1912, no. 39.
London, Tate Gallery, and Birmingham, City Art Gallery, Autour du cubisme, July-September 1956, no. 7.
Boston, Institute of Contemporary Art; Columbus, Gallery of Fine Arts; Pittsburg, Carnegie Institute; and Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, Paintings from the Muse National d'Art Moderne, October 1957-April 1958, no. 17 (illustrated).
New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (no. 23); Paris, Muse National d'Art Moderne; and Dortmund, Museum am Ostwall, Albert Gleizes, 1881-1953, A Retrospective Exhibition, September 1964-April 1965, no. 9 (illustrated; Paris and Dortmund, illustrated in color).
Crteil, Hall d'exposition, L'abbaye Crteil, October 1971, no. 35.
Milan, Palazzo Reale, Boccioni e il suo tempo, December 1973-February 1974, no. 147 (illustrated).
Aix-en-Provence, Atelier Paul Czanne, Pages Czanniennes: Albert Gleizes, August-October 1986.
Edinburgh, National Gallery of Scotland, Monet to Matisse: Landscape in France, 1874-1914, August-October 1994, pp. 37, 161, and 191, nos. 124 and 252 (illustrated in color, p. 84; detail illustrated in color, p. 160).

Lot Essay

In 1911, Albert Gleizes was at the height of his artistic powers and Paysage Meudon is one the artist's most celebrated paintings. In 1912 Gleizes and Jean Metzinger together published a ground-breaking treatise on the nature of Cubism, Du Cubisme. They were the first to propose that Cubism was based on principles of relativity, simultaneity, and four-dimensionality. These ideas would soon become widely accepted in critical circles, and today, still form the basis of our understanding of Cubist art. As Gleizes and Metzinger stated:

If we wished to refer the space of the painters [Cubists] to geometry, we should have to refer to it to the non-Euclidean scientists; we should have to study at some length, certain theorems of Rieman's [sic]. If so many eyes contemplate an object, there are so many images of that object; if so many minds comprehend it, there are so many images of that object; if so many minds comprehend it, there are so many essential images... The fact of moving around an object to seize several successive appearances, which, fused in a single image, reconstitute it in time, will no longer make thoughtful people indignant (quoted in R. Rosenblum, Cubism and Twentieth Century Art, New York, 1976, p. 181).

In this treatise, Gleizes and Metzinger refer to Courbet and Czanne as the spiritual ancestors of Cubism, in that they were the first artists to wish to obliterate from their art all symbolic, literary and historical dimensions. As did Courbet and Czanne before him, in the present work Gleizes chose a subject matter that was nearly emptied of symbolic content: the landscape. This allowed Gleizes to focus on qualities of form (note the especially prismatic shapes of the trees), rather than those of texture and color.

In the present work, Gleizes retained a traditional sense of perspective and employed the use of a vanishing point in the road and the houses in the background. There is a logical dimunition of form, and in this respect Gleizes' Cubism retained his singular vision of imposing a sense of weight and volumetric relationships to his subjects. As Apollinaire wrote in the catalogue introduction to the 1911 Salon des Indpendants, "Il est sorti un art simple et noble, expressif et mesur, ardent la recherche de la beaut et tout prt aborder ces vastes sujets que les peintres d'hier n'osaient entreprendre."

The first owner of Paysage Meudon was Alphonse Kann, the renowned collector of modern art. Kann was revered for his keen eye and extraordinary taste, and before the war his collection included at least thirty-five paintings by Picasso, in addition to numerous others by Braque, Klee, Matisse, Manet, Courbet, Renoir and others. Paysage Meudon was among approximately 130 items that had been looted from the Kann collection by the German Occupation Army in 1940. In 1949, The National Museums of Recuperations recovered Paysage Meudon and it subsequently went into the collection of the Muse National d'Art Moderne in Paris. In July of 1997, the heirs of Alphonse Kann were successful in bringing Paysage Meudon back into their family's possession.

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