JEAN METZINGER (1883-1956)
JEAN METZINGER (1883-1956)
JEAN METZINGER (1883-1956)
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JEAN METZINGER (1883-1956)
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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more THE ROGER SANT COLLECTION
JEAN METZINGER (1883-1956)

Homme à la pipe

JEAN METZINGER (1883-1956)
Homme à la pipe
signed 'JMetzinger' (lower right)
charcoal on paper
24 1/8 x 18 7/8 in. (61.4 x 47.8 cm.)
Drawn circa 1912
Morton G. Neumann, Chicago (by 1981); Estate sale, Sotheby's, New York, 17 November 1998, lot 107.
Galerie Berès, Paris.
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2006.
The Art Institute of Chicago, The Morton G. Neumann Family Collection, Selected Works, February-April 1981, p. 12, no. 39.
Special notice

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Lot Essay

Homme à la pipe was executed in the early 1910s, a crucial turning point in the history of cubism—where Metzinger was at its forefront.
In 1912, the artist had exhibited at the influential Salon de la Section d’Or, the show was the most significant exhibition of Cubist works up until the First World War and consolidated the reputation of its exhibitors as artistic innovators. It included more than two hundred works, including artists such as Albert Gleizes, Robert Delaunay and Fernand Léger. During the opening, a lecture was given by none other than renowned poet Guillaume Apollinaire, the believed sitter of the present work.
Apollinaire was a friend and fierce supporter of the group. Metzinger had met him through Max Jacob in 1907, and their friendship had solidified throughout the following years. In 1908, he published a poem by Metzinger (Parole sur la lune) in his collection of Symbolist poetry. Two years later, the artist painted an oil portrait of the poet—the first cubist portrait to have ever been painted. As Apollinaire himself wrote ‘I am honoured to be the first to have served as a sitter for a cubist painter, Jean Metzinger, for a portrait that was exhibited in 1910 at the Salon des Indépendants’ (G. Apollinaire, Anecdotiques, Paris, 1926, p. 44).
This drawing is a further depiction of the poet, executed approximately two years after the oil Apollinaire was so proud to have sat for. In true cubist fashion, the present work is far more than a simple frontal depiction. The poet’s face is shown from several angles, his head both turned and facing forward, his mouth simultaneously open and smoking a pipe. Here, Metzinger shows a summation of multiple images and several angles—various moments in time culminating in a single, multi-layered representation of his friend and patron. In line with the theories of French philosopher Bergson, Metzinger viewed representation as the depiction of a subject remembered through single subjective moments within space and time. The present work, with its multiple vantage points and angles representing several moments in time, is a visual synopsis of Bergson’s theories on paper.
A powerful example of Cubist portraiture, as well as a touching testament to one of the most artistically fruitful friendships of the 20th century, Homme à la pipe reminds its viewers of Apollinaire’s insightful verdict on Metzinger’s art: ‘Jean Metzinger’s works are quite pure. His meditations acquire a formal beauty whose charm tends towards the sublime’ (G. Apollinaire, Les Peintres Cubistes, Paris, 1913, trans. by P. Read, New York, 2002, p. 47).

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