Term derived from a reference made to ‘geometric schemas and cubes’ by the critic Louis Vauxcelles in describing paintings exhibited in Paris by Georges Braque in November 1908; it is more generally applied not only to work of this period by Braque and Pablo Picasso but also to a range of art produced in France during the later 1900s, the 1910s and the early 1920s and to variants developed in other countries. Although the term is not specifically applied to a style of architecture except in former Czechoslovakia (see Czech Cubism), architects did share painters’ formal concerns regarding the conventions of representation and the dissolution of three-dimensional form (see §II). Cubism cannot definitively be called either a style, the art of a specific group or even a movement. It embraces widely disparate work; it applies to artists in different milieux; and it produced no agreed manifesto. Yet, despite the difficulties of definition, it has been called the first and the most influential of all movements in 20th-century art....
Christopher Green and John Musgrove
Francis M. Naumann
(b Blainville, Normandy, July 28, 1887; d Neuilly-sur-Seine, Oct 2, 1968).
French painter, sculptor and writer, active also in the USA. The art and ideas of Duchamp, perhaps more than those of any other 20th-century artist, have served to exemplify the range of possibilities inherent in a more conceptual approach to the art-making process. Not only is his work of historical importance—from his early experiments with Cubism to his association with Dada and Surrealism—but his conception of the ready-made decisively altered our understanding of what constitutes an object of art. Duchamp refused to accept the standards and practices of an established art system, conventions that were considered essential to attain fame and financial success: he refused to repeat himself, to develop a recognizable style or to show his work regularly. It is the more theoretical aspects implicit to both his art and life that have had the most profound impact on artists later in the century, allowing us to identify Duchamp as one of the most influential artists of the modern era....
Marie-Noelle de Grandry-Pradel
(b Damville, Eure, Nov 5, 1876; d Cannes, Oct 7, 1918).
French sculptor and draughtsman. The second son of a Normandy notary, he played a central role in the development of modern aesthetics, as did his elder brother Jacques Villon and his younger brother (Henri-Robert-)Marcel Duchamp. He came from an educated family and was an assiduous student at secondary school in Rouen; in 1894 he registered at the Faculté de Médecine in Paris, where he attended classes for several years. Rheumatic fever forced him to break off his studies in 1898 just before completion and left him immobilized for a considerable length of time; this unforeseen event altered the whole course of his life. During this period of enforced leisure (1899–1900), he modelled small statuettes (of subjects such as familiar animals and female figures), discovering his true vocation as a sculptor. He was essentially self-taught and rapidly attained a high level of mastery and maturity. He settled in Paris ...