Word and Image in France, 1880–1926
Chapter 3 - Art in Theory: Word and Image in Early Cubist Criticism 113
Chapter 3 Art in Theory: Word and Image in Early Cubist Criticism If the ‘Idée’, with its neoplatonic heritage and literary associations, was a keyword in Symbolist theoretical debate from around 1886, the early critics of Cubism from 1910 onwards were united in their devotion to an apparently opposed concept: that of ‘reality’. While the Symbolist critic Albert Aurier could declare in 1892 that art should abandon physical real- ity and attend to ‘that idéiste substratum which is everywhere in the uni- verse and which, according to Plato, is the only true reality, the rest being mere semblance’,1 in 1910 Jean Metzinger announced that Picasso, in his investigation of the material world from a ‘mobile’ perspective, ‘owns up to being a realist’.2 In his 1886 Symbolist manifesto, the poet Jean Moréas had proposed that art and nature were linked only obliquely, by means ‘of the sumptuous simars of outward analogies’,3 while in his review of the 1911 Salon des Indépendants, Guillaume Apollinaire picked up on Metzinger’s reference to multiple perspectives and concluded that ‘this discipline is not incompatible with reality’.4 However, despite this apparent contrast, the Cubists’ definition of ‘reality’ was not as distant from the Symbolist Idée as it might at first seem. Assessing his contribution to the 1913 Salon d’Automne, Albert Gleizes described his debt to the material world as follows: ‘And I will insist on 1 ‘ce substratum idéiste qui est partout dans l’univers et qui, selon Platon, est...
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