Love it or loathe it, there’s no denying that Cubism paved the way for dozens of subsequent modern art movements, from Purism and Precisionism to Surrealism, and continues to inform abstraction in art to this day. As an organized artistic movement, it thrived from its inception around 1907 through to World War 1, when artists like Georges Braque were called into active military duty and Pablo Picasso re-embraced a degree of realism.
What followed was a post-war artistic awakening centered around Paris that saw creatives from around the world traveling to the French capital for inspiration and community. Artists were drawn to the city’s cafes, studios and art galleries during Les années folles, as Paris once again established itself as an active center of culture. Alexander Calder, Kees van Dongen, Marcel Duchamp, Alberto Giacometti and others lived and worked here following the war, and perhaps unsurprisingly, new styles and movements flourished.
After Cubism: Modern Art in Paris, 1918-1948, which opens at the Detroit Institute of Arts on August 18 and will be on view through January 7 of next year, looks at the city’s artistic community and its impact from the end of the first World War through the rebuilding after the second.
The exhibition takes its title from the artistic manifesto Après le cubism (After Cubism), written by Amédée Ozenfant and Charles-Édouard Jeanneret (later known as Le Corbusier), but in no way limits itself to the philosophies therein. Instead, After Cubism is wide-ranging, showcasing 120 paintings, prints, drawings and photographs from the DIA’s permanent collection that illustrate how the landscape of modern art changed in Paris—and then changed around the world.
“Our new exhibition not only celebrates Paris as a central figure, but more so the artists who explored fresh avenues, resulting in works that continue to inspire today,” said DIA Director Salvador Salort-Pons in a statement.
Works by Marc Chagall, Fernand Léger, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Man Ray, Marie Laurencin and Diego Rivera feature heavily in After Cubism. Highlights include the oil painting of the Cafe Rêve in Montmartre by African-American painter Archibald Motley Jr., as well as the monumental watercolor painting, The Spirit of Electricity, by Raoul Dufy. There are also photographs by Ilse Bing, Brassaï, Claude Cahun and Henri Cartier-Bresson.
“The artists of Paris responded to the changes of modern life, including rapid electrification, innovations in science and technology and new ideas about vision and psychology,” added DIA Curator of Prints and Drawings Clare Rogan. “Their approaches to artwork in the modern age still echo for us today.”