Guillaume Apollinaire's only book on art, The Cubist Painters, was first published in 1913. This essential text in twentieth-century art presents the poet and critic's aesthetic meditations on nine painters: Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes, Marie Laurencin, Juan Gris, Fernand Léger, Francis Picabia, and Marcel Duchamp. As Picasso's closest friend and Marie Laurencin's lover, Apollinaire witnessed the development of Cubism firsthand. This collection of essays and reviews, written between 1905 and 1912, is a milestone in the history of art criticism, valued today as both a work of reference and a classic example of modernist creative writing.
In addition to a faithful and fluid translation of Apollinaire's text, Peter Read provides his own scholarly analysis of its importance in the history of modernism. He examines Apollinaire's art criticism, his relationship to the Cubist movement, and, more specifically, the genesis of Cubist Painters through its various revisions and proofs. Supported by all forty-five plates from the original edition, this new volume brings Apollinaire's vitality and vision to life for a new generation.
PART ONE: THE CUBIST PAINTERS
PART TWO: APOLLINAIRE AND CUBISM
Apollinaire as Art Critic Before The Cubist Painters
Apollinaire and Cubism
The Cubist Painters: Genesis of the Book
The Cubist Painters: Structure, Style and Modern Beauty
The Cubist Painters and the Enemies of Cubism
Aesthetic Meditations. The Cubist Painters
Critical Response to The Cubist Painters
Guillaume Apollinaire—Roman by birth, Polish by name (Wilhelm-Apollinaris de Kostrowitski), Parisian by choice—died at thirty-eight, in 1918. He was one of the leading figures in twentieth-century poetry, a transitional figure whose work at once echoes the Symbolists and anticipates the Surrealists. His Calligrammes: Poems of Peace and War (2004) is available in a bilingual edition from California.
"After more than fifty years, it is wonderful to have a new translation, particularly one by a specialist in Apollinaire. This translation, needless to say, is consistently excellent."—Bulletin international des études sur Guillaume Apollinaire
"The Cubist Painters needs an accompanying commentary if one is to understand it, let alone do justice to its many flashes of insight. In Peter Read, renowned especially for his work on Apollinaire's relationships with contemporary artists, it has found not only the ideal translator, but also the ideal interpreter. . . . In this thoughtful, and loving, version, the rediscovery of The Cubist Painters is a pleasure. "—Elizabeth Cowling, Modern Language Review
"Peter Read's excellent English translation of Les Peintres cubistes is the first since 1944. . . . His accompanying essay surveys the poet's career as an art critic and offers a running commentary on the book, which proved to be the only one Apollinaire was to publish on art. . . . And Read identifies a thread of essential consistency running throughout the anthology, pregnant with meaning for twentieth-century art to come: Apollinaire's insistence on the self-referentiality and autonomy of modern art-the new painting, abstract or otherwise, had no real subject other than artistic expression itself."—Times Literary Supplement
"[Read's] text . . . restores to The Cubist Painters a poetic dimension sometimes suppressed in Abel's version. This is the principal virtue of the new translation, yet this virtue is not simply one of fidelity, for Read's translation also serves to clarify the position of Apollinaire's 1913 text in relation to other early accounts of Cubism. . . . His account of the genesis of the book and of Apollinaire's revisions of the proofs are particularly valuable. "—Simon Dell, Art History: Journal of the Association of Art Historians
"As visually accurate as it is literate."—Courier and Advertiser, Fife, Scotland