Section d’Or 1912 – 1914

Expression denoting a harmonic proportional ratio thought to have originated in the circle of Pythagoras (6th century BC) Expressed as a geometric ratio, the golden section holds that a:b = b:a+b, or the shorter is to the longer as the longer is to the sum of the shorter and longer Among early mathematicians the division of a line or a rectangle according to this system was known as ‘extreme’ and ‘mean’ ratio With the invention of algebra it became possible to express the ratio as φ (Phi, the initial letter of Phidias’s name, a term that gained wide acceptance only at the beginning of the 20th century), where φ = 1+square root of 5, divided by 2 (1+√/2) The numerical value of φ is 161803 in a positive solution, and its negative reciprocal is 061803

The Section d’Or (“Golden Section”), also known as Groupe de Puteaux (or Puteaux Group), was a collective of painters, sculptors, poets and critics associated with Cubism and Orphism Based in the Parisian suburbs, the group held regular meetings at the home of the Duchamp brothers in Puteaux and at the studio of Albert Gleizes in Courbevoie Active from 1911 to around 1914, members of the collective came to prominence in the wake of their controversial showing at the Salon des Indépendants in the spring of 1911 This showing by Albert Gleizes, Jean Metzinger, Robert Delaunay, Henri le Fauconnier, Fernand Léger and Marie Laurencin (at the request of Apollinaire), created a scandal that brought Cubism to the attention of the general public for the first time

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The Salon de la Section d’Or, held October 1912—the largest and most important public showing of Cubist works prior to World War I—exposed Cubism to a wider audience still After the war, with support given by the dealer Léonce Rosenberg, Cubism returned to the front line of Parisian artistic activity Various elements of the Groupe de Puteaux would mount two more large-scale Section d’Or exhibitions, in 1920 and in 1925, with the goal of revealing the complete process of transformation and renewal that had transpired since the onset of Cubism

The group seems to have adopted the name “Section d’Or” as both an homage to the mathematical harmony associated with Georges Seurat, and to distinguish themselves from the narrower style of Cubism developed in parallel by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque in the Montmartre quarter of Paris In addition, the name was to highlight that Cubism, rather than being an isolated art-form, represented the continuation of a grand tradition: indeed, the golden ratio, or golden section (French: Section d’Or) had fascinated Western intellectuals of diverse interests for at least 2,400 years

Following the 1911 Salon exhibitions the group formed by Le Fauconnier, Metzinger, Gleizes, Léger and R Delaunay expanded to include several other artists; Alexander Archipenko, Joseph Csaky, Roger de La Fresnaye, Juan Gris, and Jean Marchand, who were virtually unknown to the public before the Salon des Indépendants of 1911, began to frequent Puteaux and Courbevoie František Kupka had lived in Puteaux for several years in the same complex as Jacques Villon Francis Picabia was introduced to the circle, perhaps by Guillaume Apollinaire (usually accompanied by Marie Laurencin) with whom he had recently become friendly Most importantly was the contact established with Metzinger and the Duchamp brothers, who exhibited under the names of Jacques Villon, Marcel Duchamp and Duchamp-Villon The opening address was given by Apollinaire The participation of many of these artists in the formation of Les Artistes de Passy in October 1912 was an attempt to transform the Passy district of Paris into yet another art-centre; a further sign of a growing emphasis on communal activity that would culminate in the Section d’Or exhibit