Cubist Landscape (1912) was inspired by a trip that Diego Rivera made to Spain on 1911, where he encountered the olive trees of Catalonia. The serrated blue ridge in the painting evokes Montserrat, a mountain in the region. The work exemplifies the idiosyncratic approach to Cubism that Rivera developed in the 1910s, when he lived in Paris. He saw these early works, which combine a sun-drenched palette with kaleidoscopic planes and abstract patterning, as a way of beginning to forge a specifically Mexican modernism. “My Cubist paintings,” he said, “are my most Mexican.”
Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Cozy Chair Installation View in the Todd Merrill Studio Booth at The Salon New York (All Photos By Gail)
An annual favorite NYC design event is now behind us for the year, but you can bet I’ll be featuring many of the most spectacular pieces of art furniture from The Salon Art + Design in these pages in the coming weeks. Let’s kick off with a unique chair from Berlin-based, Bauhaus educated, multi-disciplinary designer Hannes Grebin, who has created upholstered seating inspired by questioning traditional domestic decor. Applying the principals of Cubism to design, Grebin masterfully deconstructs the traditional shapes and detailing of a ‘Dad’s Chair’ into simplified geometric shapes and interlocking planes. Presenting The Cozy Chair!
Hailed as “the perfect painter” by avant-garde writer Gertrude Stein, Juan Gris developed his signature approach to Cubism beginning in 1911. Using classic café subject matter — such as the newspaper, seltzer bottle, and glass seen here — Gris made subtle adjustments to the conventions of picture making that render ordinary objects both familiar and newly intriguing. For example, in The Checkerboard (1915) and its bird’s-eye view of a tabletop, a cunning reorganization of pictorial space places objects that should have volume into a single compressed plane. With a nod to play, Gris shows us a fragmented checkerboard, an emblem of the strategy and gamesmanship at the center of his art.
Although this abstract composition, Synchromy No. 3 (1917), bears many traces of European Cubism — angular shapes, fragmented forms, and multiple perspectives — it asserts the primacy of color as a key component of space and form. In 1912, Stanton Macdonald-Wright, together with the painter Morgan Russell, coined the term Synchromism to describe abstract compositions primarily concerned with the rhythmic use of color — a phenomenon they likened to a symphony’s use of sound. Synchromism was one of many diverse approaches to abstraction that flourished in the Americas and Europe on the 1910s, radically departing from traditional vocabularies of painting and sculpture
Born in New York to German American musicians, Lyonel Charles Feininger (1871 – 1956) travelled to Germany in 1887, and remained in Europe for several years to study art. While in Paris, he encountered Cubism and embraced its rationality and abstraction of form and space. “Cubism is a synthesis,” the painter explained, “but it may be degraded into mechanism. My Cubism is visionary, not physical.”
Feininger most famously applied his visionary style to architectural subjects that resonated with metaphysical meaning, especially churches. Here, the artist depicts the village church of Lehnstedt(1917) and its wooded environs with his characteristic crystalline and refracted forms.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.