Our cover this month, Le Cycliste by Jean Metzinger, sold for GBP 3.015 million at Sotheby’s Impressionist, Modern & Surrealist Art Evening Sale on Feb. 4, 2020 in London. The image is highly praised as one of Metzinger’s most ambitious works, creating an accurate depiction of movement and speed using both Cubist and Futurist influences.
Metzinger experienced immediate success after finally mustering the courage to submit his first oil paintings to studios in Paris. He decided to relocate to the city from his hometown of Nantes, France. Metzinger’s early style was predominantly influenced by geometric structure and mosaic-like patterns, which eventually led to his enthusiastic embrace of Cubism. Metzinger, who was also a theorist, wrote numerous essays and books in support of Cubism.
After World War I, many artists felt a desire to return to more traditional styles of art. Some, like Metzinger, didn’t want to completely abandon abstraction and turned to a form known as “mechanical” art. The mechanical style reflected the embrace of machine and modern technology at the beginning of the 20th century. The bicycle, for one, was considered a symbol of modern life at the time, and Metzinger was one of a number of artists who experimented with capturing its motion in their works.