Jean Metzinger Catalogue Raisonné
Number: AM-50-015 Jean Metzinger
Title: Untitled (Café Scene)
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 97.2 x 80 cm
Collection: Chrysler Museum of Art
Inscriptions: Signed (lower left)
Collection: Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia
Provenance: Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.
Exhibitions: Collection Conversations: Fractured Lens: Picasso, Braque, and Cubism’s Influence, Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA, 14 October 2014 – 22 February 2015.
Notes: The painting is dated ca. 1919 at the Chrysler Museum of Art.
Label on the verso reads ‘Untitled (Café Scene), ca. 1940s’.
“This is an oil on canvas painting. The viewer is presented with a man and woman seated at a table in a café. Behind the woman’s head, backward letters indicate they are inside the café. Nearly all shapes are angled, with the exception of the semicircle of the man’s sweater neck and the woman. There is no soft value change; each shape and line controls its own color in contrast to that which is next to it. The palette is primary with black and white. The viewer is given a view of the couple both in profile and front view at the same time.
With bright colors and a wittily nuanced design, Jean Metzinger celebrates an age-old symbol of Parisian life: a pair of lovers seated in a café. Metzinger depicts their heads both frontally and as shadowy silhouettes, a clever use of Cubist double imagery that alludes both to their public presence and to their private relationship. By the 1940s, many Cubists like Metzinger had abandoned the movement’s formal discipline for relaxed applications of the style. Such is the case here, where bold patterning and a vibrant palette create a stylish image of French daily life.” (Chrysler Museum of Art)