Albert Gleizes Biography

Albert Gleizes




Painter, printmaker, and textile designer Albert Gleizes was born on December 8, 1881 in Paris. Primarily self-taught, Gleizes studied oil painting after his tour of duty in the 72nd Infantry Regiment of the French Army, learning from the styles and techniques of leading Impressionists. In 1902, after just one year's study, he exhibited at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts; the following year, he exhibited two paintings at the Salon d'Automne.

In addition to pursuit of art, Gleizes was active in sociopolitical discussion and activism. He co-founded the anti-military propaganda student union l'Association Ernest-Renan, and for a year rented a house in Creteil with friends, forming an association fraternelle d'artistes that shunned commercial pursuits. Once their ability to support themselves became too difficult, Gleizes returned to Paris, moving to Montmartre with Amedeo Modigliani and Henri Doucet, among others.

After his return, his style quickly evolved from Impressionism to Fauvism and hints at a proto-Cubist style began to emerge. By 1910, his focus was entirely on the rising star of Cubism, and despite dismissive accounts from important critics at the Salon des Indépendants that year, Gleizes, along with Jean Metzinger, Robert Delauney, Fernand Léger, and Henri le Fauconnier, was leading the charge toward the revolutionary genre and the radicalization of the Paris Salons. As with Spain's Picasso, they were immersed in Cubism not only as a style but as a philosophy. Gleizes' immovable devotion to Cubism, even in its rapid pre-World War I decline in popularity, would be a defining aspect of his career.

In 1913 Gleizes traveled to the United States to help open the famed Armory Show in New York, the first major Modernist art exhibition in the United States, featuring. With the outbreak of World War I Gleizes enlisted in the French Army, and was put in charge of organizing entertainment for the French Army. This led to a collaboration with Jean Cocteau in creating sets and costumes for Shakespearean productions, inspiring Gleizes interest in pursuing textile works. He was discharged in 1915 and he sailed to the United States with his wife, the artist Juliette Roche. There, he continued to work and exhibit, focusing on images of city life with themes of towering buildings and the jazz music scene. His influence on the burgeoning Modernist art world was far reaching. From their home in New York Gleizes and Roche traveled internationally and, with the end of the war, returned once more to France.

From the 1920s through the 1940s Gleizes' style continued to meditate on Cubist theory even as it faded out of popularity. He continued to paint until very near his death in Avignon on June 23, 1953. His work and theories continue to influence the art world.