Executed in 1912, Still Life with Chessboard dates from the best period of the artist’s career (see also note to previous lot). Just one year later Marcoussis would exhibit three works at the Salon des Indépendants, along with artists including Gleizes, Archipenko and Metzinger, and at the First German Salon d'Automne held at Galerie Der Sturm, Berlin. Featuring over 350 works by over eighty different painters, this was a key exhibition for the promotion of the new avant-garde movements.
The early stages of Cubism were centred on the graphic deconstruction of an object and its re-presentation from multiple viewpoints, typically in a limited, mainly brown palette. Marcoussis experimented with this deconstruction of objects and planes that defined analytical Cubism. Marcoussis's cubist components consist mainly of overlapping rectangular and polygonal forms, and elements of typography. Whilst inspired by the work of Braque and Picasso, the carefully balanced rhythms in Marcoussis's cubist forms suggest the presence of an overriding schematic design, and in this regard, his early cubist works demonstrate a strong affinity with the Cubism of Albert Gleizes, Jean Metzinger, and the other painters in the so-called Puteaux group centered around the brothers Marcel Duchamp and Jacques Villon. The Puteaux artists were interested in mathematical theories of proportion, the 'golden section' of the ancient Greek mathematician Euclid. And indeed, Marcoussis first exhibited his cubist paintings at the Section d'Or exhibition in October 1912. Organized by the Puteaux artists, this proved to be the last great group enterprise of the Cubist movement.
Fig.1: Louis Marcoussis, Le Rire, circa 1911-12
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