from The Cubist Painters (Chapter VII) – Guillaume Apollinaire



Cubism differs from the old schools of painting in that it is not an art of imitation, but an art of conception which tends towards creation.

In representing conceptualized reality or creative reality, the painter can give the effect of three dimensions. He can to a certain extent cube. But not by simply rendering reality as seen, unless he indulges in trompe-VmU in foreshortening, or in perspective, thus distorting the quality of the forms conceived or created.

I can discriminate four tendencies in cubism. Of these, two are parallel and pure.

Scientific cubism is one of the pure tendencies. It is the art of painting new structures out of elements borrowed not from the reality of sight, but from the reality of insight. All men have a sense of this interior reality. A man does not have to be cultivated in order to conceive, for example, of a round form.

The geometrical aspect, which made such an impression on those who saw the first canvases of the scientific cubists, came from the fact that the essential reality was rendered with great purity, while visual accidents and anecdotes had been eliminated. The painters who follow this tendency are: Picasso, whose luminous art also belongs to the other pure tendency of cubism, Georges Braque, Albert Gleizes, Marie Laurencin and Juan Gris.

Physical cubism is the art of painting new structures with elements borrowed, for the most part, from visual reality. This art, however, belongs in the cubist movement because of its constructive discipline. It has a great future as historical painting. Its social role is very clear, but it is not a pure art. It confuses what is properly the subject with images. The painter-physicist who created this trend is Le Fauconnier.

Orphic cubism is the other important trend of the new school. It is the art oi painting new structures with elements which have not been borrowed from the visual sphere, but have been created entirely by the artist himself, and been endowed by him with fullness of reality. The works of the orphic artist must simultaneously give a pure aesthetic pleasure; a structure which is self-evident; gpd a sublime meaning, that is, a subject. This is pure art. The light in Picasso’s paintings is based on this conception, which Robert Delaunay is also in the Igocess of discovering and towards which Fernand Leger, Francis Picabia, and parcel Duchamp are also directing their energies.

Instinctive cubism is the art of painting new structures with elements which h$ not borrowed from visual reality, but are suggested to the artist by instinct and intuition; it has long tended towards orphism. The instinctive artist lacks lucidity and an aesthetic doctrine; instinctive cubism includes a large number pf artists. Born of French impressionism, this movement has now spread all over Europe.

Cezanne’s last paintings and his watercolours belong to cubism, but Courbet ‘s father of the new painters; and Andre Derain, whom I propose to discuss pme other time, was the eldest of his beloved sons, for we find him at the beginning of the fauvist movement, which was a kind of introduction to cubism, ^jid also at the beginning of this great subjective movement; but it would be |po difficult today to write discerningly of a man who so wilfully stands apart Upm everyone and everything.

The modern school of painting seems to me the most audacious that has ever appeared. It has posed the question of what is beautiful in itself. It wants to visualize beauty disengaged from whatever charm man has for

Titian, and until now, no European artist has dared attempt this. The new artists Remand an ideal beauty, which will be, not merely the proud expression of the ^ecies, but the expression of the universe, in so far as it has been humanized this light.

The new art clothes its creations with a magnificence which surpasses anything flse conceived by the artists of our time. Ardent in its search for beauty, it is fioble and energetic, and the reality it brings us is marvellously clear. I love the art of today because above all else I love the light; for man loves the light more than anything; it was he who invented fire.

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