Executed in 1912, Nature morte au damier/rhum/bass reveals the artist’s full mastery of the Cubist idiom. The early years of Cubism were centred on the graphic deconstruction of an object and its re-presentation from multiple viewpoints, typically in a limited, monochrome, grey or brown palette with a distinctive focus on still life motifs. In 1912, Braque introduced another component that would become distinctive to Cubism: typography – brandishing letters or words across his canvases.
The present work exhibits these characteristic signifiers of Cubism to impressive effect. A chess board can be glimpsed in the background alongside glasses and playing cards, each object seemingly suspended within the fantastical distortion of the picture plane. The words rhum and bass hover over the scene, with corresponding connotations of musical innovation and discovery; the language of musical harmony was being re-interpreted in entirely new ways by composers such as Debussy, Ravel and Satie alongside their artistic counterparts during the first decades of the twentieth century. Ultimately Nature morte au damier/rhum/bass is a superb example of Marcoussis’ Cubist œuvre, indicating the artist’s mastery of this new and ground-breaking style of painting.
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