The Guitarist 1965 Picasso Essay

African Period (c. 1907)

Picasso's African-influenced Period (epoque negre), during which he was inspired by African tribal art, begins with the two figures on the right in his painting, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, which were inspired by African artifacts.

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon was a landmark painting in the development of modern art which signalled a radical departure from the artistic ideas of the preceding ages and heralded the coming of a new artistic movement (Cubism) as well as the birth of modern abstraction. The influence of Paul Cezanne and African sculpture is visible in its fragmented forms and unprecedented distortions. For more, see: Primitivism/Primitive Art.

The painting depicts five prostitutes in a brothel in the Avignon Street of Barcelona, portraying them from several angles, which became one of the characteristic features of Cubism. The picture marked a fundamental break with the principles of traditional naturalistic art - in particular, it rejected the use of perspective - and was an entirely different way of painting. Picasso's predecessors - whether painting portraits or landscapes - remained focused on portraying nature as they saw it, whereas in Les Demoiselles d'Avignon Picasso sought to represent three dimensional objects on a flat two dimensional canvas.

The relative lack of roundedness in the forms and the jigsaw-like fragments indicate the abstract direction that his painting was now taking. Meanwhile, another painter was having similar thoughts: his name was Georges Braque. the two met in Paris in 1908 and collaborated closely for several years.

Birth of Cubism (c.1908-9)

In 1908, influenced by Paul Cezanne's geometric-style landscape paintings of Montagne Sainte-Victoire, as well as his masterpiece The Large Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses) Picasso and Braque executed a series of landscape paintings that were very similar to Cezanne's, both in their colours (dark greens, light browns) and simplified geometrical shapes. They painted houses in the form of 3-D cubes. It was these paintings that the French art critic Louis Vauxcelles was referring to in 1909, when he used the expression 'bizarreries cubiques', which led to the adoption of the word Cubism. This style was then further refined and duly evolved into Analytical Cubism.

It was about this time that Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (1884-1979) became Picasso's art dealer and agent. Later he would be superceded by Leonce Rosenberg (1879-1947) and his younger but smarter brother Paul Rosenberg (1881-1959).

Analytical Cubism (c.1909-12)

Portrait of Ambroise Vollard (1910) was one of the first full-blown examples of the new austere Analytical Cubism. In this painting, Picasso disassembled a human figure into a series of flat transparent geometric plates that overlap and intersect at various angles. Now, suddenly all the 'cubes' of the earlier proto-type Cubist painting have disappeared.

Analytical Cubism - a most challenging form of art - is the most austere and intellectual stage of the Cubism movement. During this period, the forms of the objects portrayed are fragmented into a large number of small intricately hinged opaque and transparent planes that fuse with one another and with the surrounding space. Analytical Cubist paintings are typically executed in monochrome, with no bright colour.

Synthetic Cubism (c.1912-19)

During his Synthetic Cubism phase, Picasso's forms became larger and more representational, with flat, bright decorative patterns replacing the earlier, more austere compositions. New techniques adopted by Picasso in his art of this period included the pasting of cut paper fragments (eg. wallpaper or pieces of newspaper) into compositions, marking the first major use of collage and papier collé in fine art. Examples of his Cubist works at this time include: Still-Life with Chair-Caning, and The Guitar. By this period, the new style had caught on with a number of other talented Cubist painters.

Inscription: Signed and dated in black and orange paint, upper left: Picasso/ 1915

the artist, Paris and elsewhere (1915–30; sold on July 31, 1930, to Rosenberg and Wildenstein); [Paul Rosenberg, Paris, in joint ownership with Georges Wildenstein, Paris, 1930–at least spring 1934]; [Galerie Pierre (Pierre Loeb), Paris, 1934–40; consigned, through Käte Perls, Paris, to Perls Galleries (Klaus G. Perls), New York, stock no. 1074; consigned by Perls on November 14, 1940, to Matisse; sold on December 21, 1940 (in full on June 30, 1941) for $3,500 to Matisse]; [Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, 1940–44; stock no. 1027; sold on January 17, 1944, for $8,500 to Marx]; Samuel and Florene Marx, Chicago (1944–his d. 1964); Florene May Marx, later Mrs. Wolfgang Schoenborn, New York (1964–d. 1995; on extended loan at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, from 1971; her bequest to MMA)

Kunsthaus Zürich. "Picasso Retrospective, 1901–1931," September 11–October 30, 1932, extended to November 13, 1932, no. 92.

Hartford. Wadsworth Atheneum. "Pablo Picasso," February 6–March 1, 1934, no. 29.

New York. Pierre Matisse Gallery. "Landmarks in Modern Art," December 30, 1940–January 25, 1941, unnumbered cat.

New York. Pierre Matisse Gallery. "Picasso," November 30–December 30, 1943, no. 7.

Arts Club of Chicago. "Variety in Abstraction," March 5–30, 1946, no. 21.

New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Paintings from Private Collections: A 25th Anniversary Exhibition," May 31–September 5, 1955, no. 114.

New York. Museum of Modern Art. "The School of Paris: Paintings from the Florene May Schoenborn and Samuel A. Marx Collection," November 2, 1965–January 2, 1966, unnumbered cat. (p. 22).

Art Institute of Chicago. "The School of Paris: Paintings from the Florene May Schoenborn and Samuel A. Marx Collection," February 11–March 27, 1966, unnumbered cat.

City Art Museum of Saint Louis. "The School of Paris: Paintings from the Florene May Schoenborn and Samuel A. Marx Collection," April 26–June 13, 1966, unnumbered cat.

Mexico City. Museo de Arte Moderno. "The School of Paris: Paintings from the Florene May Schoenborn and Samuel A. Marx Collection," July 2–August 7, 1966, unnumbered cat.

San Francisco Museum of Art. "The School of Paris: Paintings from the Florene May Schoenborn and Samuel A. Marx Collection," September 2–October 2, 1966, unnumbered cat.

Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Picasso in the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art," February 3-April 2, 1972, unnumbered cat. (p. 6).

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Florene M. Schoenborn Bequest: 12 Artists of the School of Paris," February 11–May 4, 1997, extended to August 31, 1997, brochure no. 16.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Painters in Paris: 1895–1950," March 8–December 31, 2000, extended to January 14, 2001, unnumbered cat. (p. 75).

Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art. "Picasso and the School of Paris: Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," September 14–November 24, 2002, no. 21.

Tokyo. Bunkamura Museum of Art. "Picasso and the School of Paris: Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," December 7, 2002–March 9, 2003, no. 21.

Paris. Musée National Picasso. "Picasso cubiste," September 19, 2007–January 7, 2008, unnumbered cat. (p. 309).

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Picasso in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," April 27–August 1, 2010, no. 62.

Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Picasso: Forty Years of His Art. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1939, p. 88, no. 125 (listed as lent by Pierre Loeb, but loan did not occur).

Jean Cassou. Picasso. London, 1940, pp. 91, 166, ill.

Christian Zervos. Pablo Picasso. Vol. 2b, Works from 1912 to 1917. Paris, 1942, p. 251, no. 540, ill.

Jaime Sabartés. Paintings and Drawings of Picasso. Paris, 1946, pl. 7.

Jean Cassou and Jaime Sabartés. Two French Masters of Contemporary Art: Matisse–Picasso. Paris, [1950], pl. 7.

Introduction by Alfred H. Barr Jr. "Paintings from Private Collections." Museum of Modern Art Bulletin 22 (Summer 1955), pp. 21, 34, ill.

Tom Prideaux. "Terrible Ladies of Avignon–Cubism." Life Magazine 65 (December 27, 1968), p. 63, ill.

Franco Russoli and Fiorella Minervino. L'opera completa di Picasso cubista. Milan, 1972, pp. 124–25, no. 821, ill.

Pierre Daix and Joan Rosselet. Picasso, The Cubist Years, 1907–1916: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings and Related Works. Boston, 1979, p. 342, no. 812, ill.

Josep Palau i Fabre. Picasso: Cubism, 1907–1917. New York, 1990, pp. 450, 522, no. 1361, ill.

Christian Geelhaar. Picasso: Wegbereiter und Förderer seines Aufstiegs, 1899–1939. Zürich, 1993, pp. 191, 200–201, figs. 209, 223.

Anne Baldassari. Picasso photographe, 1901–1916. Exh. cat., Musée Picasso. Paris, 1994, pp. 73–74, figs. 47, 48.

Pierre Daix. Dictionnaire Picasso. Paris, 1995, p. 433.

Carol Vogel. "32 Works of Art by Masters Left to Met and the Modern." New York Times (November 25, 1996), p. A1.

William Rubin, ed. Picasso and Portraiture: Representation and Transformation. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, 1996, p. 141, ill.

Anne Baldassari. Le Miroir noir: Picasso, sources photographiques, 1900–1928. Exh. cat., Musée Picasso. Paris, 1997, pp. 202, 208, ill. and fig. 204.

Anne Baldassari. Picasso and Photography: The Dark Mirror. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Paris, 1997, pp. 136–37, 166, ill.

Mila Andre. "Bien merci, Mme Schoenborn." Daily News (February 14, 1997), p. 63.

Pablo Picasso et Dora Maar, une histoire, des oeuvres: Succession de Madame Dora Markovitch, 1907–1997. Importantes Photographies de 1906 à 1946. October 28–29, 1998, pp. 10, 32, under no. 164, ill.

Natasha Staller. A Sum of Destructions: Picasso's Cultures and the Creation of Cubism. New Haven, 2001, frontispiece.

Anne Baldassari. Bacon–Picasso: The Life of Images. Exh. cat., Musée Picasso. Paris, 2005, p. 74, fig. 49.

Julia May Boddewyn in Michael FitzGerald. Picasso and American Art. Exh. cat., Whitney Museum of American Art. New York, 2006, pp. 355, 358, 361, 373.

John Richardson with Marilyn McCully. A Life of Picasso. Vol. 3, The Triumphant Years: 1917-1932. New York, 2007, p. 107, ill.

Liz O'Brien. Ultramodern: Samuel Marx, Architect, Designer, Art Collector. New York, 2007, p. 121, ill.

Gary Tinterow inPicasso in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Gary Tinterow and Susan Alyson Stein. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2010, pp. 175–79, no. 62, ill. (color).


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