Albert Léon Gleizes was born on 8 December 1881, in Paris. In his youth, he worked in his father’s fabric-design studio, and began painting in his late teens in the style of the Impressionists. Whilst serving in the French military between 1901 and 1905, Gleizes continued to paint and exhibited La Seine à Asnières, 1901, at the Société National des Beaux-Arts in 1902. He exhibited at the Salon d’Automne the following year. In 1906, Gleizes co-founded Abbaye de Créteil, a utopian self-supporting community of artists, writers and intellectuals based outside Paris, though this was short-lived and closed in 1908 due to financial difficulties.
In 1910, Gleizes exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants and began to write. Around this time he met Robert Delaunay, Fernand Léger, Jean Metzinger, and Henri Le Fauconnier. They would all meet regularly at the Le Fauconnier’s studio, often with writers such as René Arcos and Guillaume Apollinaire, exploring a style interested in form in opposition to the Neo-Impressionist emphasis on colour. The five would exhibit at the 1911 Salon des Indépendants in the notorious ‘Salle 41’ – the first official introduction of Cubism as an organised group movement to the public. In 1912, he published Du cubisme in collaboration with Metzinger and helped found the Section d’Or, which had its first exhibition at the Galerie la Boétie, Paris.
In 1916, he travelled to Barcelona where he had his first solo exhibition at the Galeries Dalmau, Barcelona. In 1918, Gleizes travelled to New York, and began to explore religion and spiritual values in his writings and art. Over the course of the 1920s, Gleizes would retreat from the Parisian art scene, focussing on theoretical writings. In 1927, he founded Moly-Sabata with his wife, another utopian self-supporting community of artists and craftsmen, in Sablons, near Lyon. In the early 1930s, he joined the group Abstraction-Création, and published Vers une conscience plastique: la forme et l’histoire (1932), which examined Celtic, Romanesque and Oriental art. In 1937, Gleizes collaborated with Léger and Delaunay on the Cubist murals at the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris. In 1939, he founded another commune for artists called Les Méjades, near St. Rémy-de-Provence. In 1941, he was confirmed as a Roman Catholic and would have a retrospective in 1947 at the Chapelle du Lycée Ampère, Lyon. Gleizes died in Avignon on 23 June 1953.
Gleizes’ work can be found in the following selected international collections: the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice; Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Tate Collection, London.
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