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Long as this essay has been, there are still many important questions that have not been addressed. There is, for example, the role of Jacques Villon, one of the most sympathetic, sensitive artists in the circle, who had his own interest in the relation between painting and mathematics - a genuine close interest in the Golden Section which seems quite unrelated to the arguments of Lenz and Sérusier, though Villon, through the Société Normande de la Peinture Moderne, was associated with Sérusier's pupil, Roger de la Fresnaye. His main source is usually said to have been Péladan's translation of the Treatise on Painting, extracted from the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, (81) which is quoted in On "Cubism" and later, at a time when Gleizes was particularly associated with Villon, in Painting and Its Laws.

 81  e.g. in Dora Vallier: 'To place Jacques Villon' in Cassou et al: Jacques Villon, p.16.

What Villon derives from this is very different from the return to early Renaissance values later championed, also with reference to Leonardo's notebooks, by Severini. The use of what he pretends (it is difficult to believe him) is an entirely impersonal mathematically based structure without any intervention by the artist's sensibility, establishes in his work a strange, disturbing quality - much more genuinely disturbing than anything that could be found in the Surrealists and so effective that it must be assumed to have been intended. Far from pleasing and soothing the senses as the use of rhythmic numbers was supposed to do in the theories of Henry or of Lenz, Villon's use of the Golden Section grates on them. To that extent he resembles his brother Marcel who often seems to be deliberately pursuing what Henry would have called non-rhythmic or 'inhibitory' relations. But the effect in Villon is much more interesting, a real challenge to conventional habits of perception, heavy (especially in his engravings) with a sense of tragedy and foreboding, far removed from the impersonal mathematics of the theory. 

His theory puts him on the side of the purely plastic, essentially non-representational side of the argument; but no-one conferred greater intensity on the subject, often a subject presented straightforwardly, without radical reorganisation, except in those works where he explores the possibilities of successive movement - the soldiers marching, the horse running. Indeed, despite this interest in successive movement, shared with Marcel, his work is usually static in its tendency. The eye confronted with one of Villon's etchings is immobilised, more thoroughly than it ever is when confronted with conventional Renaissance perspective, and this seems to be a necessary consequence of his use, again following Leonardo, of pyramids as an element of construction. As a lifelong friend of Gleizes, the theorist of ocular mobility, Villon clearly knows what he is doing. In respect of this static intensity if in nothing else he resembles his neighbour and, one assumes, friend, Kupka and it is very strange to think of them working side by side, totally dedicated, uncompromising, solitary and, apparently, quite independently one from the other. 


Then there is the very different role of Fernand Léger. Léger appears prominently in the illustrations to On "Cubism" with five paintings. They include an Abundance which looks like a parody of Le Fauconnier. The lady appears to be gorging herself on the fruit (the impression that she is smoking and winking is not confirmed when the drawing is examined closely). There is also a Houses and Smoke which includes a perfectly clear - though, as Antliff would say, hitherto unremarked - church steeple: clear proof that Léger was really a reactionary Catholic traditionalist who would have been all too willing to associate with a modernised Bergsonian Action Française. The following year, in October, (82) Léger signed a contact with Kahnweiler and withdrew from the Salons. 

82   Léger: Functions of Painting, French edition, p.331.

Léger's lecture The Origins of Painting and its Representational Value, (83) given in May 1913, has much in common with On "Cubism", especially with the 'plastic' side of the argument which I have identified with Gleizes. Like On "Cubism" he insists that the new painting is 'realist' but, more clearly than On "Cubism", he insists that its realism lies in its recognition of the real means at the disposal of the painter: 'pictorial realism is the simultaneous ordering of the three great plastic components: lines, forms and colours.' (p.4) Like On "Cubism" he distinguishes between the visual (he calls it 'visual; On "Cubism" calls it 'retinal') and the conceptual: 'I think it is at this precise moment that the two great pictorial concepts, visual realism and realism of conception, meet - the first completing its ascent, which includes all traditional painting down to the Impressionists and the second, realism of conception, beginning with them.' (p.5) Like Metzinger in Cubist Technique, he sees Cubism as a continuation of Neo-Impressionism: 'the divisionism of form and line [dessin]' (p.7); and, like On "Cubism" he understands it as a matter of relations - 'the relationships among volumes, lines and colours' (ibid) - not of an individual image. He lays more stress than On "Cubism" on the saccadic, fragmented nature of the painting, influenced by modern means of communication, and this would lead, in his talk the following year (1914) on Contemporary Achievements in Painting to a championing of violent contrasts, rather like that which is condemned in On "Cubism". Even here, however, he echoes On "Cubism" in his criticism of the Neo-Impressionist optical mix which will only add up to grey (p.17). He has almost nothing to say in either of the two essays on Metzinger's distinctive interest - Cubism as a new means of presenting information about a subject. Here Gleizes, Léger, Le Fauconnier and Delaunay all seem to be ranged against Metzinger, who finds himself in the company of Picasso and Braque, at least as interpreted by Kahnweiler.

83   This is the title given in the Thames and Hudson English translation edited by Edward Fry. The original French however is Les Origines de la peinture contemporain et sa valeur représentative. Page references are to the English edition of Functions of Painting.



Another topic I have barely touched upon is the relation, if any, with the Futurists. On "Cubism", as a manifesto of Cubism, might be presented as a response to the Futurists but, apart from the passing reference to those who confuse plastic dynamism with the noise of the streets, it does not refer to them and it has nothing of their aggressive, polemical spirit. One might almost feel its sober, measured, sometimes lightly mocking style is itself intended as a reproach to the Futurists. I had long assumed that Gleizes had the Futurists in mind when he attacked Italian art in Cubism and Tradition; but the art he is attacking is so radically and obviously different from that of the Futurists that this seems unlikely. 

On the whole it does not seem that either Gleizes or Metzinger saw Futurism as much of a threat. Gleizes claims in his Memoirs that he liked them (84) and in Painting and on Man become Painter (which, since it was his last book, appears as something of a testament) he expresses a warm sympathy for Boccioni, presenting him as the first to pose seriously the problem of movement in painting (p.79). One feels, by contrast, that Metzinger was quite indifferent. Only Delaunay really rose to the bait, entering into a very interesting if heated exchange over the origins and meaning of the term, 'simultaneism'. (85) Léger is content to remark that Italian Futurism is a proof that French Cubism has universal value (had Gleizes said it he would doubtless have been accused of racism). (86)

84   'This attitude [the violence of Severini's support for the Futurists], which I did not share, nonetheless rendered him extremely sympathetic to me, as indeed, were all his friends, among them, in the first place, Boccioni.' - Memoirs-Return to France. p.7. Marinetti had been one of the associates of the Abbaye. See e.g. Fabre: Albert Gleizes and the Abbaye de Créteil, p.132.

85   See e.g. Pascal Rousseau: 'Biographie' in Rousseau et al: Robert Delaunay. Items for 7th Feb, 1912, 1st April 1913, October 1913, December 1913 5th March, 1914.

86   Origins of Painting, p.7.