With Albert Gleizes, Metzinger co-authored the seminal Du Cubisme published in 1912. This was the first text on the Cubist movement, and featured works by Paul Cézanne, Fernand Léger, Marie Laurencin, Juan Gris, Marcel Duchamp, Pablo Picasso, and Georges Braque among others. In Du Cubisme, Metzinger declares: 'To establish pictorial space, we must have recourse to tactile and motor sensations, indeed to all our faculties. It is our whole personality which, contracting or expanding, transforms the plane of the picture. As it reacts, this plane reflects the personality back upon the understanding of the spectator, and thus pictorial space is defined: a sensitive passage between two subjective spaces. The forms which are situated within this space spring from a dynamism which we profess to dominate. In order that our intelligence may possess it, let us first exercise our sensitivity. There are only nuances. Form appears endowed with properties identical to those of colour. It is tempered or augmented by contact with another form, it is destroyed or it flowers, it is multiplied or it disappears' (translated in Robert L. Herbert (ed.), Modern Artists on Art, New York, 1986, p. 8). By focusing on the nuances of form and colour, Metzinger highlights the continuous movement of perspective and reality. In Violon et flûte, the artist achieves a truncated but cohesive composition of elements by emphasising the equal importance of colour and form.
Metzinger’s text laid the theoretical foundations for a pivotal exhibition held in 1911 at the Salon des Indépendants. Considered to be the first Cubist show, the exhibition formally heralded a new era in painting through its open defiance of the traditional, more naturalistic modes of representation. Displayed in Salle 41 of the Salon, it featured works by Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes, Robert Delaunay, Henri le Fauconnier, Fernand Léger and Marie Laurencin. These artists were from a group known both as the Section d’Or and the Puteaux Group, after the Parisian suburb of Puteaux, where the artists had first met at the studios of Marcel Duchamp and Albert Gleizes. The group championed a form of Cubist painting which did not conform to the narrow interpretation of Cubism established by Picasso and Braque. Instead, it employed the de-constructive techniques and geometric compositional style of both artists, without restriction to their limited repertoire of subjects. It also rejected the more esoteric categories of Analytical or Synthetic Cubism, and their respective approaches to the pictorial object.
Violon et flûte is a rare and important example of Metzinger’s work of this period, and epitomises his concerns of creating works that crystallised multiple facets of vision and form.
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