The importance of the present work was attested to by its inclusion in the prestigious collection of Solomon R. Guggenheim in New York, who acquired it in 1936 and bequeathed it to The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum a year later, eventually selling it at Sotheby's in London in 1974 after more than 30 years in his collection. Standing as a powerful example of the connections and dynamic artistic exchange between Europe and the US at the time Vaudeville is a significant work within Gleizes’ œuvre, and various preparatory drawings exist, one of which was also given to the Guggenheim by Hilla Rebay in 1938 and then deaccessioned in 1986.
As a co-founder of the Salon d'Automne and member of the Salon des Indépendants, Gleizes was heavily influenced by Henri Le Fauconnier, Jean Metzinger and other members of the Cubist circle. Soon discovering his own pictorial language, Gleizes sought to deconstruct the objects which appear in his canvases, reorganising them in rhythmically shifting planes. By 1911, he was among the outstanding Cubist exhibitors in the Salon des Indépendants and co-author with Jean Metzinger of the treatise Du Cubisme. This was the first publication to offer a definition of Cubism and the ideas set forth therein were an inspiration to many of Gleizes' contemporaries, including Roger de Fresnaye and Fernand Léger. Gleizes continued to develop his creative language over the following years, pushing the Cubist vernacular to its limits. Brookes goes so far as to argue that ‘Gleizes can claim, justifiably, to have gone further with Cubism than any other painter’ (Peter Brookes, Albert Gleizes, For and Against the Twentieth Century, New Haven, 2001, p. x). In its combination of abstract shapes and quotidian objects reduced to their most elemental form, Vaudeville stands as a magnificent exemplar of Gleizes’ utterly distinctive and pioneering artistic practice.
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