From Algiers to Paris, the years of breeding ground
Henry Valensi arrives in Paris in 1898, during the preparation for the 1900’ Universal Exhibition.
He quickly enrolled at the Jullian Academy in the painting school of Jules Lefebvre and Tony Robert-Fleury. As early as 1905 – he was 22 years old. – he began to exhibit his paintings: Salon des Orientalistes at the Grand Palais, Salon des Indépendants, Galerie Lorenceau in Vichy.
He joined the Group of Puteaux created by Jacques Villon, Kupka, Gleizes, Metzinger or Picabia, from which will emerge around 1911 the Group of the Gold Section. Valensi became its secretary, and one of the youngest participants in the first exhibition of the collective in October 1912: the Salon de la Section d’Or in the Galerie La Boétie. During this Salon, Apollinaire made a lecture in which he described what he defined as “cubism torn apart”, between the four tendencies he saw at the time, that is to say, scientific, orphism, physical and instinctive cubisms.
In 1910-1911, Villon and Kupka met him with the editor-in-chief of the illustrated journal “l’Assiette au beurre”, which would give pages well in the style of the satirical journal of the time, on colonization, capitalists, parish priests, military members, and others.
Valensi became friends with the Futurists, led by Marinetti, who published the Futurist manifesto in 1909. After “feeling” his way as early as 1909 (with his painting “Athènes” where he became aware of the importance of the relationship between the background of the canvas and what it represents in the foreground. He traveled much, and published and presented in 1913 his first theoretical essay, the Law of Predominances, according to which each period of history saw an art predominate: architecture, sculpture, poetry, literature and music, and this in the sense of a gradual alleviation of the material used.
At the end of 1913, at the beginning of 1914, he exhibited 150 paintings at the Galerie La Boetie; his works are then shown in several cities in Germany, but very soon the war bursted out. He joined, and was assigned as a painter to the Armies during the Dardanelles expedition, in 1915-1916, where he painted what he saw, and exhibited at the Druet Gallery in 1917.
In the same year, he began the series of “expressions” of cities, places and regions, with the one of the Dardanelles.