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Picasso and the Allure of Language

August 20, 2009 – January 03, 2010
Duke students at a first-year party visit the Picasso show. Photo by Duke Photography. Jon Gardiner/Duke Photography

Picasso, Gertrude Stein and Paris

Gallery Guide Christie Mitchell discusses Picasso's Dog and Cock painting with students. Photo by J Caldwell.
Gallery Guide Christie Mitchell discusses Picasso's Dog and Cock painting with students. Photo by J Caldwell.

This exhibition focused on Picasso’s deep and interdisciplinary interest in writing and language, offering new insights about this famous, well-studied artist. More than 60 works of art by Picasso revealed his intellectual and artistic exchanges with some of the greatest thinkers of his day.

Picasso and the Allure of Language focused on Picasso’s life after moving from his native Spain to the bohemian Montmartre section of Paris in 1904. There, he formed friendships with important French writers and poets, including Max Jacob, Pierre Reverdy and Guillaume Apollinaire. In 1905, Picasso met Gertrude Stein, the expatriate American writer who, guided in art collecting by her brother Leo, became the artist’s principal patron in Paris until 1914. Works made by Picasso for the Steins were included in the exhibition.

The exhibition also included works by fellow artist Georges Braque and photographs, letters, manuscripts and book projects by a diverse group of artists and writers. The exhibition was complemented by Africa and Picasso, a small installation inspired by Picasso’s own collection of African art.

Rare Letters, Postcards, Recordings

A Duke student takes a close look at Pablo Picasso's painting, First Steps. Photo by Duke Photography.
A Duke student takes a close look at Pablo Picasso's painting, First Steps. Photo by Duke Photography.

The exhibition marked the first time that works by Picasso originally owned by Gertrude and Leo Stein and now in the Yale University Art Gallery’s collection were reunited with materials from the Yale University Beinecke Library’s Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas Papers. Among the objects drawn from this archive were an intimate 1914 collage made by Picasso from Stein and Toklas’s calling card, as well as letters and postcards written from Picasso to the Steins, who together assembled an astounding private art collection that included works by Picasso, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and others. The Beinecke materials also include Stein’s original transcripts of her perceptively written portraits of Picasso, as well as audio recordings of Stein reading those writings.

Support

Duke students take a close look at a sculpture by Picasso. Photo by Duke Photography.
Duke students take a close look at a sculpture by Picasso. Photo by Duke Photography. Jon Gardiner/Duke Photography

Picasso and the Allure of Language was organized by the Yale University Art Gallery with the support of the Nasher Museum. The exhibition was made possible by an endowment created with a challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional endowment support provided by the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation; Ketcham Family Memorial Fund; George and Schatzie Lee Fund; Carol and Sol LeWitt Fund; Leah G. and Allan C. Rabinowitz, Yale College Class of 1954, Fund; and Edward Byron Smith, Jr., Family Fund.

At the Nasher Museum, major support for the exhibition was provided by Marilyn M. Arthur, the E. T. Rollins Jr. & Frances P. Rollins Foundation, David A. Lamond, the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, Duke University Medical Center, Duke University’s Graduate Liberal Studies Program, Drs. Victor S. and Lenore B. Behar, Jaclyn, Nelson and Kelly Braddy T’99, Tom and Larry Hines and Isobel Craven Drill, Stefanie and Douglas Kahn, Dr. Lee Albert and Ann D. Whitehurst and the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club. Additional support was provided by Drs. Anne Micheaux and Onye Akwari, Carolina Meadows, Laura S. Ladd, Diane Evia-Lanevi and Ingemar Lanevi, Herman and Eunice Grossman, A. Courtney Shives, Jr., Olympia Stone and R. J. Sims Preston, Ruth Glesby Wagner, and Nancy Palmer Wardropper.

Official Hispanic Media Sponsor: Univision 40

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