Albert Marcoussis
Portrait of Guillaume Apollinaire

This is an etching by Albert Marcoussis of his friend, the poet, writer, and champion of Cubism, Guillaume Apollinaire. You can see it on display in our Degas to Picasso exhibition until 7 May.

Marcoussis includes his original name, Kostrowitzky, at the top of this portrait along with references to some of his best known works. Originally from Poland, he moved to Paris in 1904 and was persuaded to change his name by Apollinaire. Marcoussis had previously been influenced by the Impressionists, but having adopted the Cubist style exhibited in the Section d’Or in 1912 and at the Salon des Indépendants in 1913.

Apollinaire became one of the most popular members of the artistic community of Paris and is credited with coining the term “cubism” in 1911 to describe the emerging art movement. His bandaged head was the result of a war wound.


December 8th 1886: Diego Rivera born

On this day in 1886, Mexican artist Diego Rivera was born in Guanajuato. The young Rivera demonstrated a remarkable talent and passion for drawing, and began studying at an art academy in Mexico City when he was ten years old. When he was nearly 20, Rivera travelled to Europe where he met famed artists like Pablo Picasso, and encountered the work of Paul Gaugin and Henri Matisse. During his time in Europe, Rivera adopted a Cubist style to his art. Upon his return to Mexico in the late 1910s, Rivera, inspired by the Mexican and Russian revolutions of the mid-decade years, resolved to reflect the lives of working class and indigenous Mexicans in his work. In 1922, he received a government grant to create a series of murals for public buildings which depicted the history of the Mexican people. In 1929, Rivera married the young artist Frida Kahlo - who was twenty years his junior - united by a shared radical Marxist politics. As Rivera’s reputation grew, he was commissioned to paint murals in the United States throughout the 1930s and 1940s. However, he faced significant backlash for including communist leader Vladimir Lenin in his Man at the Crossroads mural, painted for the powerful Rockefeller family. Despite being a professed patron of the arts, Nelson Rockefeller destroyed the supposedly anti-capitalist mural; Rivera went on to paint a new version which included Marx and Engels, and Nelson’s teetotal father John D. Rockefeller drinking in a nightclub with a woman. Rivera’s marriage to Kahlo was notoriously turbulent, and the couple divorced for a year before reuniting in 1939, during which time they housed the exiled communist Leon Trotsky. Kahlo died in 1954, and Rivera, after having remarried, passed away three years later from heart failure. Diego Rivera, especially alongside Frida Kahlo, is one of the most fascinating figures of twentieth-century art, famed for his politics and his devotion to depicting ordinary Mexicans’ lives.


I’ve never done anything in a cubist style or even thought to attempt it. And then the other day I was browsing the internet and I saw a Picasso piece that I’d seen before, but it just struck me this time. So I thought I’d use some heroes to experiment. I don’t know the first thing about actually doing something in cubism, so… I strongly stress the word “experiement”.

Charles Rosen - Winter Sunlight - 1916

Charles Rosen (28 April 1878 – 21 June 1950) was an American painter who lived for many years in Woodstock, New York. In the 1910s he was acclaimed for his Impressionist winter landscapes. He became dissatisfied with this style and around 1920 he changed to a radically different cubist-realist style. He became recognized as one of the leaders of the Woodstock artists colony.