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What a memorable day that was, the preview of the Automne, 1911. In an artist's life, moments like that leave a memory that cannot be removed. This memory retains a precision in which the reality seems to be magnified. When I come to evoke this past, everything is all at once re-established in a present that I can see, hear and touch. Room 8. We had not organised it ourselves as we had done for Room 41 at the Indépendants some months previously. We were not part of the hanging commission. I suppose it must have been Duchamp-Villon and La Fresnaye who took charge of it. Duchamp-Villon whom we did not know and La Fresnaye whom we had met for the first time at the Indépendants. Whatever the case, this room looked well. It was more or less square, with a slice cut off one of the right angles. Two doors opened on the two sides of the angled wall. With one's back turned to the angle one had, on the wall to the right of the right angle, on the right, Fernand Léger's Essai pour trois portraits and, coming back to the right angle, André Lhote's Le Port de Bordeaux, two or three etchings by Jacques Villon including, if I am not mistaken, a 'Portrait of an actor' and a female nude by Luc-Albert Moreau. Immediately against the right angle and on the left hand side, a large painting by Marcel Duchamp, La Sonate; Le Goûter and a landscape by Jean Metzinger. Then, going to the left, paintings by La Fresnaye, my picture La Chasse, and some of Le Fauconnier's Savoie landscapes. Finally, on the angled wall, my portrait of Jacques Nayral and Dunoyer de Segonzac's Boxers.

The whole no longer presented the homogeneity of Room 41. The representatives of orthodox Cubism - Le Fauconnier, Léger, Metzinger and myself - were there beside artists who had with them only a distant resemblance. Who did not start out from the same position and who would for a long time insist that they did not belong to Cubism. Who would, later on, be violently opposed to its inevitable consequences. In saying this, I want to emphasise the distinction that must be made between talent and state of mind. No-one could doubt that an André Lhote or a La Fresnaye are painters of very great talent. On the other hand, if they have the right to question our state of mind we too can hardly be denied permission to disagree with them about their state of mind - and this from the very earliest days. (11) On the other hand, some new, very talented, artists found themselves associated with this mixture of orthodoxy and dissidence, 'intended by those responsible for the hanging'. (12) They were Marcel Duchamp and Jacques Villon, whom we did not know and only got to know at the end of the exhibition; I will say in what circumstances.

(11)  Note by Gleizes: The composition of this Room 8, then, resulted in a gathering together of painters of the same generation who had between themselves only relations of sympathy, not at all of spirit and of form. This later allowed the label 'Cubist' to be attached to painters who were rejected by those of Room 41 of the Indépendants to whom alone the term belonged - painters who themselves in their turn rejected the directions Cubism was to take, inevitably, following the impulse of the principles established at the beginning. These painters of Room 41 knew quite well what it was that distinguished them from their friends. This can be established by reading the article I wrote on the 1911 Salon d'Automne in the review, Les Bandeaux d'Or. Nothing then that isn't perfectly normal if, in our book Du "Cubisme", published in 1912, Metzinger and myself did not reproduce works by Lhote, La Fresnaye ... There was no reason to do so since these painters were not, nor ever had been, Cubists. On the other hand, if Delaunay and Le Fauconnier do not appear, it was for reasons independent of our will, passing quarrels, bad temper on the part of our comrades, who prevented us from reproducing their work.

(12)   In italics in the original

Nonetheless, despite this lack of homogeneity, the whole had about it a fine air of provocation. From these paintings a storm of battle was rising. And it very quickly became a tempest. The crowd of those attending the preview quickly thickened in the square room, and it was a chaos which resembled that of the Indépendants. People were pressing against the doors to get in, shoving each other, fighting back once they were in, no-one wanted to leave again, everyone was quarrelling in front of the pictures, they were for or against, they showed which side they were on, made remarks out loud, shouted, protested, got angry, provoked replies, to unbridled insults were opposed equally immoderate expressions of admiration, it was a tumult of cries, shouts, bursts of laughter, of protests. Artists, painters, sculptors, musicians were there; writers, poets, critics; and all the chaos of the crowd which goes to these Parisian previews, where men of the world, sincere lovers of art, art dealers rub shoulders with the milkman or the landlady whose artist-client or tenant have given them an invitation. Nothing more curious than this ocean of people, thicker this year of 1911 than the preceding years because alerted by the news in the papers which announced that 'the Cubists', whose appearance six months previously had been a surprise, would be taking part. People grabbed at papers with special editions, reviews giving 'a complete account, room by room, of the exhibition' which the sellers were offering in front of the entrance doors on the Avenue d'Antin and of the rue Jean Goujon. Most of the papers abused us with a quite extraordinary degree of violence, the critics lost all restraint and the invectives rained down upon us. We were accused of the worst of intentions, of seeking to create a scandal, of not caring what the public thought, of wanting to get rich quick at the expense of the snobs, we were charged with all the sins of Israel, we were consigned to the outer darkness. 

The great complaint that was made against us was of being unreadable; people claimed they could 'see' nothing in our pictures. And not just the philistines but painters of value, half sincerely, half as a matter of calculation. Years after this astonishing day, once calm had already settled around these canvasses of Room 8 - which hardly anyone nowadays would think of questioning, though as far as their painters were concerned they were only a stage along the way to other regions yet more stripped of inessentials, more pure, which had become the objects of new controversies - I was very surprised to find under the in many ways sympathetic pen of Wlaminck, in his first book, Tournant Dangéreux, during a ferocious attack on Cubism, a description of my painting La Chasse, which, he said, was as closed to him as it had been at the beginning and in which all he had managed to distinguish was a 'hunting horn'.

This reproach of being unreadable was perhaps what earned us the greater part of our excommunication from the critics and the public. I have already said it was simply the consequence of a reversal in the relative importance of the two factors by which every work of art is conditioned - subject and object. The failure to understand [déviation de la] form which is such a marked characteristic of our present age, had pushed the subject, the anecdote, the episode into the forefront. It was to this that artist and poet delivered themselves in a series of sentimental variations. The spectators' or listeners' emotion was born of this situation and from striking images. The spectator and the listener read and heard the story. Art was limited to a pleasing presentation, a luscious technique [Facture alléchant], to those resources of talent that are able to enchant each and everyone with no matter what. But there was never anything there that could engage the intelligence. What interested our contemporaries in the masters of the Renaissance was the spectacle. They went to museums to look at images. But in other times, better cultivated, less susceptible to immediate appearances, endowed with more ability to penetrate the surface, with more curiosity, people knew that every work fashioned out of clay was given life by the spirit, in other words that every work was form and that this form could only be realised through the plasticity of the material used, whether it was colours, stone or even the sound qualities of words or musical variations. The anecdote was only an accident deliberately produced but always subordinate to the nature of the 'object' as much in the great images of religious iconography as in those, more modest, of our daily, personal or social, deeds or gestures. The explanation of the supposed faults in the drawing or strange deformations that have been remarked in the works of these periods can be found in the authority exercised by the 'object' over the 'subject'.

Our opacity was simply the result of our wanting to advance certain of these objective values which were never regarded - either by those circles that had some intellectual pretentions or by those that are wrongly called popular - as having any importance; and of the fact that the anecdotal subject was therefore playing a less important role in the act of painting. Hence the attitude of the spectator in front of our canvasses which led him to see them as nothing more than puzzles, conundrums, even charades. However, with the passage of time and the further development of these initial intentions, we can see that these pictures were still very respectful of habits and convenience, that they had not freed themselves from dependence on the subject, and that their authors were soon going to have to make a choice between 'the object', with all that that decision would imply, or the 'subject' manifesting itself once more under the troubled appearances of its final state of decay - individual subjectivism which no longer recognises any restraint.