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Daniel Robbins

(b Paris, Dec 8, 1881; d Avignon, June 23, 1953).

French painter, printmaker and writer. He grew up in Courbevoie, a suburb of Paris, and as a student at the Collège Chaptal became interested in theatre and painting. At 19, his father put him to work in the family interior design and fabric business, an experience that contributed to a lifelong respect for skilled workmanship. The first paintings he exhibited, at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1902, were Impressionist in character, but the work accepted within two years at the Salon d’Automne showed a shift to social themes, a tendency that accelerated until 1908. Compulsory military service from 1903 to 1905 thrust him into the company of working-class people, arousing a permanent sense of solidarity with their aspirations and needs. The results were immediately apparent in the Association Ernest Renan, which he helped to establish in 1905, a kind of popular university with secular and socialist aims. He was also one of the founders of a community of intellectuals based near Paris, the ...

Article

Troels Andersen

(Severinovich)

(b Kiev, Feb 26, 1878; d Leningrad [now St Petersburg], May 15, 1935).

Russian painter, printmaker, decorative artist and writer of Ukranian birth. One of the pioneers of abstract art, Malevich was a central figure in a succession of avant-garde movements during the period of the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917 and immediately after. The style of severe geometric abstraction with which he is most closely associated, Suprematism (see fig.), was a leading force in the development of Constructivism, the repercussions of which continued to be felt throughout the 20th century. His work was suppressed in Soviet Russia in the 1930s and remained little known during the following two decades. The reassessment of his reputation in the West from the mid-1950s was matched by the renewed influence of his work on the paintings of Ad Reinhardt and on developments such as Zero, Hard-edge painting and Minimalism.

Article

(b Amersfoort, March 7, 1872; d New York, Feb 1, 1944).

Dutch painter, theorist, and draughtsman. His work marks the transition at the start of the 20th century from the Hague school and Symbolism to Neo-Impressionism and Cubism. His key position within the international avant-garde is determined by works produced after 1920. He set out his theory in the periodical of Stijl, De, in a series of articles that were summarized in a separate booklet published in Paris in 1920 under the title Le Néo-plasticisme (see Neo-plasticism) by Léonce Rosenberg. The essence of Mondrian’s ideas is that painting, composed of the most fundamental aspects of line and colour, must set an example to the other arts for achieving a society in which art as such has no place but belongs instead to the total realization of ‘beauty’. The representation of the universal, dynamic pulse of life, also expressed in modern jazz and the metropolis, was Mondrian’s point of departure. Even in his lifetime he was regarded as the founder of the most ...

Article

Deborah A. Middleton

(b Brooklyn, New York, Aug 11, 1927; d Pound Ridge, NY, Jan 24, 2006).

American art historian and museum curator. Rubin has been credited with defining the historical narrative of modern art through his writings and exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in the 1970s, and 1980s. The vision of founding director Alfred H(amilton) Barr to establish the Museum of Modern Art as a global authority in modern paintings and sculpture was continued during Rubin’s tenure as Director of the Department of Painting and Sculpture, Museum of Modern Art (1973–88).

William was one of three sons of a successful New York textile merchant. Rubin grew up in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, New York and attended Fieldstone School where he interned on special museum education projects with teacher and mentor Victor D’Amico who was also Director of Education at the Museum of Modern Art. While at Columbia University he joined the military during World War II to serve in the American occupation forces in Europe. Upon completing his undergraduate degree in ...

Article

Malcolm Gee

[Mayer, Louis]

(b Paris, Jan 1, 1870; d 1943).

French critic. He is now best known for having invented the term ‘les fauves’ to describe Matisse and his colleagues in 1905. This has contributed to the impression that he was an opponent of modern art. In fact, although he did consistently decry Cubism and related avant-garde tendencies, he was a staunch defender of anti-academic painting and sculpture throughout his career. He began writing on art in the 1890s and quickly established himself as a lively and industrious recorder of the Parisian art scene. By 1914 he was probably the best-known and most widely read critic of the time: he was art correspondent for Excelsior and Gil Blas and wrote regularly in many other papers and periodicals. He was also a member of the executive committee of the Salon d’Automne and had personal contacts with many artists and dealers. In 1916, while maintaining his column on Le Carnet de la semaine...