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Albert Gleizes’s Biography
He was the son of Sylvain Gleizes, an industrial designer, and Elizabeth Valentine Commere; his uncle, Léon Comerre, was a successful portrait painter who won the Rome Prize in 1875.
He worked as an apprentice in his father’s industrial design studio in Paris. The young Albert Gleizes did not like school and often ran away from classes to spend time writing poetry and wandering around the nearby Montmartre cemetery. Finally, after completing high school, Gleizes spent four years in the French army and then embarked on a career as a painter, making landscapes first.
His beginnings were impressionistic. He was only twenty-one years old when his work entitled La Seine à Asnières (The Seine in Asnières) was exhibited at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1902. The following year he participated in the first Salon d’Automne and soon fell under the influence by Fernand Léger, Robert Delaunay, Jean Metzinger and Henri Le Fauconnier. In 1907 Gleizes and some of his friends pursued the idea of creating a self-sufficient community of artists that would allow them to develop their art free of commercial concern. For almost a year, in a large house in Créteil, Gleizes along with other painters, poets, musicians and writers, came together to create. The lack of income forced them to leave the place at the beginning of 1908 and Gleizes moved temporarily to La Ruche, the artistic commune of the Montparnasse district in Paris.
In 1910 he joined Cubism, which was one of his first and most important theorists with Jean Metzinger. He exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants in Paris that year. Later it collaborated with Metzinger writing in 1912, the work On the cubism and means to include /understand it, endowing it with theoretical and aesthetic bases. In the autumn of that year, together with Metzinger, he joined the Puteaux Group, also known as Section d’Or, directed by Jacques Villon and his brother Marcel Duchamp. In February 1913, Gleizes and other artists introduced the new style of painting to the American public at the Armory Show in New York.
With the outbreak of the First World War, Albert Gleizes was carried out in the French army. He was assigned the task of arranging entertainment for the troops, and as a result Jean Cocteau approached him to design the stage and costumes for William Shakespeare’s play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. A graduate of the army in the fall of 1915, Gleizes and his new wife, Juliette Roche, daughter of a prominent and wealthy French statesman, moved to New York City. From there, the couple embarked to Barcelona where they were joined by Marie Laurencin plus Francis Picabia and his wife. The group spent the summer painting in the tourist area of Tosa de Mar and in December Gleizes had his first solo exhibition of his works at the Dalmau Galleries in Barcelona. Upon returning to New York, Gleizes began to write poetic compositions in verse and prose. He traveled to Bermuda, where he painted a series of landscapes, but when the war ended in Europe, where his career evolved more towards teaching through his writings and he was involved in the Intellectuelles Françaises Unions committee.
In 1923 he published, alone, the work La pintura y sus leyes, in which he announces the return of religious art and revalues medieval artistic production.
Still dreaming of his commune days in Créteil, in 1927 he founded a colony of artists in a rental house called Moly-Sabata in Sablons near his wife’s family house in Serrières in the department of Ardèche, in the valley of the Rhone.
In 1931, Gleizes participated in the Abstraction-Création committee that acted as a forum for international non-representative art. By then, his work reflected the strengthening of his religious convictions and in his 1932 book, La Forme et l’histoire examines Celtic, Romanesque, and Oriental art. On tour in Poland and Germany, he gave lectures entitled Art and Religion, Art et Production and Art et Science and wrote a book about Robert Delaunay but it was never published. In 1937, Gleizes was hired to paint murals for the Second Category General Exhibition of Paris (1937) at the Universal Exposition in Paris. He collaborated with Delaunay in the Pavillon de l’Air and with Léopold Survage and Fernand Léger in the Pavillon de l’Union des Artistes Modernes. At the end of 1938, Gleizes volunteered to participate in the free seminars and discussion groups created by Robert Delaunay in his Paris workshop.
At the end of the 1930s, the wealthy art aficionado Peggy Guggenheim bought a lot of new art work in Paris, including works by Albert Gleizes. He took these works to the United States, and today they are part of the Peggy Guggenheim collection. During World War II, Gleizes and his wife remained in France under German occupation. His religious convictions deepened and at the end of the war he was acclaimed by some as the author who established the principles for the renewal of religious art. In 1948, Gleizes accepted the offer of a Casablanca editor to create a series of drawings illustrating the Pensées sur l’Homme et Dieu by Blaise Pascal. In 1951, he was appointed jury of the Rome Prize and the French government awarded him with the Legion of Honor. In 1952, he made his last great work, a fresco titled Eucharist that he painted for the Jesuit chapel in Chantilly.
Albert Gleizes died in Avignon, Vaucluse in 1953 and was buried in the mausoleum of his wife’s family in the cemetery of Serrières.
More Facts about Albert Gleizes
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