The notions of diversity and plurality were pivotal in the creation and development of the Cubist experience, concepts under which the so-called “Cubists’ Cubism” is displayed in this room. Aided by the Telefónica Collection, generously loaned to the Museo, the vision of Cubism unfurled here is complex and de-territorialised and focuses on its irradiative capacity and reconstructive qualities, just as important as its key works.
The importance of the press in Cubism is perceptible in its direct incorporation into papiers collés and its continual presence, from at least 1908 to 1919, in different, non-specialist media. French newspapers were hostile towards the movement, often describing it as cold, geometric, intellectual, anaemic… and foreign. This blanket view, manifested in exhibition reviews, satirical articles and mocking vignettes, prompted writers like Apollinaire to take a stance, publishing not only positive views to counter it, but also working to add legibility to the movement, explaining and embedding new terms to value this form of painting. The foundational texts Les Peintres Cubistes, written by Apollinaire between 1905 and 1912 and published in 1913, and Du Cubisme by Metzinger and Gleizes, written in 1912 (and translated into English and Russian in 1913), anchored Cubism’s formation and its subsequent dissemination. Additionally, certain publications began to support the movement, for instance Le Paris Journal and L’Intransigeant, which employed Apollinaire as a critic in the art section. Yet smaller literary magazines would make the biggest difference in the critical history of the movement, and Les Soirées de Paris was decisive in its unwavering support of artists such as Braque, Picasso, Gris and Derain. Moreover, the introduction of photographic images on its pages, for instance in Issue 18 with five of Picasso’s compositions, would make it at once an invaluable weapon of knowledge for artists at the time and an indispensable document for the history of Cubism.
Cubism’s acceptance in France would go hand in hand with its internationalisation, vital to understanding how it became the predominant avant-garde movement until the mid-1920s. In this internationalisation, through exhibitions promoted by young gallerists and art dealers (the Dalmau Cubist exhibition as early as 1912 is a clear example), the proliferation of small art magazines was even more significant, both in Paris and its geographical environment. Their aim was to travel, to leave their centres of artistic production, and search for allies to defend what was new, placing the stress on the internationalism of modern aspects. Between them, these small-format, low-cost and easily distributed magazines employing reusable materials allowed for an unconstrained exchange of ideas and shared spaces of reflection, thereby creating synergies between artists. A space of knowledge that crossed physical and linguistic borders, even during times of crisis such as the First World War.
The French publications L’Elan, SIC and Nord-Sud were newsletters distributed around Europe and the Americas using different methods. In Spain, for instance, Nord-Sud, sold in Galeries Laietanes and presented by Vicente Huidobro to Rafael Cansinos’ group of devotees, became key to understanding the development of “new art” in Spain, in particular for artists such as Joan Miró. Further, in other countries Der Sturm, Camera Work, La Voce and Lacerba fulfilled the same role: to disseminate Cubism in different countries, turning it into the lingua franca. It is this mobility that gives rise to an understanding of Cubism as “a plural and diverse practice, expansive in time, a generator of multiple poetics from its own aesthetic and conciliatory nucleus of nationalities and geographies”, in the words of Eugenio Carmona.