Jean Metzinger Paintings

1883 - 1956

Metzinger settled in Paris in 1903; supposedly studying medicine, he had already decided to turn to art and mainly attended the painting academies. His early painting was influenced by the Neo-Impressionists, which is visible in Portrait of R. Delaunay (1906), and also by Seurat. From 1909, after he had exhibited with the Fauves, he was considered to be a Cubist painter, notably with Portrait of Apollinaire. A clear thinker, Metzinger wrote On Cubism ( Du Cubisme) in 1912 in collaboration with Albert Gleizes; this was the first theoretical work devoted to the new discipline. At the same time, he was one of the co-founders of the Section d’Or group (‘Golden Section’ – concerned with the proportion and rhythm of geometric forms). In 1913, Apollinaire dedicated an important study to him entitled Cubist Painters ( Peintres Cubistes). Then World War I broke out: he was called up, but discharged in 1915 and returned to Paris. In 1917-1918, he stayed in Touraine, where he met up with Gris and Lipchitz.

Metzinger had made a name for himself in his youth, yet even though the war scarcely interrupted his work, his career never reached the same heights again. His best works date from the pre-war years; based on research led by La Fresnaye, Robert Delaunay and Jacques Villon, they tended to represent the external world through juxtaposition of coloured facets, conveying the different effects of the play of light and shadow. Metzinger was the most willing amongst the Section d’Or painters to imagine the possibility of a total abstraction; however, he didn’t follow his strongest instincts with the group members, who formed the French Cubist trend, and it was only Robert Delaunay who was able to take the plunge. Conversely, in a distinct U-turn, Metzinger returned to the portrayal of reality, treated in a stylistic Cubist manner, which he called a ‘constructive realism’.

Metzinger participated in the Salon d’Automne in Paris in 1904 and 1910. In 1910, he exhibited a Portrait of Apollinaire at the Salon des Indépendants; in 1911, he exhibited in the famous Salle 41 at the Salon des Indépendants, which was part of the first formal group exhibition of the newly formed Cubist movement. In the same year, he exhibited Yellow Pen at the Salon de la Section d’Or, and in the following year, he participated in the Salon d’Automne. After World War I, Metzinger continued exhibiting at the main Parisian Salons. In 1952, an important exhibition of his entire collection was held. In 1964, his works were shown in Chicago, and at the École des Beaux-Arts in Nantes in 1985.

Museum and Gallery Holdings

Bremen (Kunsthalle): Still-life with Melons (1917)
Brussels (Mus. royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique)
Buffalo (Albright-Knox AG): Dancers in a Café
Grenoble: Woman with Guitar
London (Tate Collection): Woman with a Coffee Pot (1919, oil on canvas)
Marseilles (Mus. Cantini): Study of a Face (1910)
Nantes (MBA)
New Haven (Société Anonyme Collection): Port (1920)
New York (Metropolitan Mus. of Art): Still-life (1917)
New York (Solomon R. Guggenheim Mus.): Woman with Fan (1913); Still-life (1916)
Paris (MAMVP): Blue Bird (1913)
Paris (MNAM-CCI): Woman Knitting (1919)
Philadelphia (MA): Tea (1911); Bathers (1913)
Venice (Collezione Peggy Guggenheim): Racing Cyclist (1914)