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Jacques Villon
b. 1875, Damville, Normandy, France
d. 1963, Puteaux, France

Jacques Villon was a French Cubist painter and abstract printmaker. Born Gaston Duchamp, he later changed his name to distinguish himself from his siblings: Marcel Du-champ, Raymond Duchamp-Villon and Suzanne Duchamp. Villon began his artistic training under his grandfather Emile Frédéric Nicolle, who taught him the art of engraving and printmaking. In 1894, Villon began studying law at the University of Paris, but was soon drawn towards artistic pursuits. He moved to Montmarte with his brother Raymond in 1895 and began studies at L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He became a graphic artist, contributing posters, cartoons, and illustrations to Parisian magazines and newspapers. Remaining an active figure in Montmarte, in 1903 he helped to organize the drawing section at the first Salon d’Automne in Paris and from 1904–05 he studied at the Académie Julian. 

Villon moved to Puteaux in 1906, where he would meet frequently with other art-ists, including Frantisek Kupka, Albert Gleizes, Robert Delaunay, Fernand Léger, Francis Pi-cabia, Jean Metzinger, and Guillaume Apollinaire. Later called the Puteaux Group, the gathering would debate the on-going artistic developments of the capital and share their ideas on new innovations. Villon helped to organize their first show, the Salon de la Section d'Or, held at the Galerie La Boétie in October 1911. The following year, Villon exhibited at the Armory Show in New York City, where his works proved popular and all his art sold. 

In his later career, Villon worked prolifically as a printmaker, maintaining an inter-est in abstracting form from observation in a colorful, geometric style. He received honors at a number of international exhibitions, including the Grand Prize for Painting at the Ven-ice Biennale in 1956. Today, Villon’s work is found in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and The Museum of Modern Art in New York, among others.

Made in 1912, Étude pour Puteaux, No. 3 was exhibited in The 1913 Armory Show in New York, and purchased by Hamilton Easter Field on March 7, 1913. The work was painted just after Villon founded the avant-garde Cubist “Groupe de Puteaux” also known as “Section d’or”, the group of painters, sculptors, poets, critics and mathematicians, including his brothers Marcel Duchamp, and Raymond Duchamp-Villon, František Kupka, Albert Gleizes, Jean Metzinger, Fernand Leger, Robert Delaunay, and others, so named to distinguish themselves from the narrower style of cubism developed in parallel by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque in Montmartre. 


In October of 1912, Villon helped organize the Puteaux Group’s first show, the Salon de la Section d’Or, held at the Galerie La Boétie. The exhibition featured some of Villon’s early Cubist works, which were met with significant acclaim. Villon’s transition from illustration to abstract painting is best represented in his works made between 1910 and 1912, such as Renée de trois quarts (1911). In the work, Villon presents Renée—a family member and frequent subject in his work—from a dour three-quarter angle. Villon ultimately made a painting and a drypoint etching of the same composition; the etching is currently in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York