New York, NY (Spring 2008)—Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), who many consider to be the greatest artist of the twentieth century, painted his life and revealed it to the world through the astonishing series of large, colorful portraits that he painted in 1932. The subject of these paintings is the young, voluptuous, blond girl named Marie-Thérèse Walter (1910-1977) who first captivated him five years earlier. Many of these works, such as The Dream, are in private collections and are rarely, if ever, placed on public display. On October 15, 2008, Acquavella Galleries in New York City, renowned for its exhibitions of modern masters, will open Picasso's Marie-Thérèse, an extraordinary group of major works devoted solely to this artist and muse relationship, and will remain on view there through November 29. Picasso's Marie-Thérèse will mark the first time that many of these pictures will be shown together in the United States since the 1932 Picasso retrospective at Galeries Georges Petit in Paris. Included among the works that will be on loan from private collectors, as well as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Museum of Modern Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Tate in London are not only major portraits of Marie-Thérèse but also drawings and a very rare sculpture. These trace the parallel development of Picasso's relationship with her and the evolution of the new erotic style he forged to celebrate her graceful beauty. With interest in Picasso at all-time high, this exhibition will explore a turning point in the artist's work and his emotional life.
"Picasso's wonderful images of Marie-Thérèse Walter have always been personal favorites of mine," said William Acquavella, president of Acquavella Galleries, "and I am very pleased that, thanks to the generosity of private collectors and major museums, we are able to present a truly unique exhibition of paintings, drawings and sculpture devoted to this period of Picasso's life and art."
Pablo Picasso, the son of an art teacher, was born in Malaga, Spain, in 1881. He exhibited his first paintings from the so-called "Blue Period" (1903-1904) in Barcelona at the age of 22, and, after an earlier trip to Paris, left Barcelona in 1904 and moved there permanently. By 1906, at the end of the "Rose Period" that began the previous year, Picasso had joined Georges Braque, and together, along with Juan Gris, they embarked on a more conceptual and theoretical pursuit that marked the beginnings of Cubism, the most important movement in modern art. In 1918 Picasso married the Russian dancer Olga Khokhlova, and his work changed again as he became more involved with theatrical productions and the ballet. It was his clandestine relationship with Marie-Thérèse Walter, however, which began with a chance sighting on the evening of January 8, 1927, that inspired one of the most radical stylistic changes to his work. The artist, then a 45-year-old father, was enthralled by the 17-year-old girl who he saw walking alone on one of Paris' grand boulevards. He was instantly fascinated by her, and for approximately the next nine years, she was to be the artist's greatest love and inspiration. Marie-Thérèse was, in many ways, the antithesis of Olga, and that appealed to him tremendously; where Olga was dark-haired and suffered from physical ailments and depression that required hospitalization, Marie-Thérèse had light coloring and possessed youthful vitality. From 1932, when these new works were first exhibited in Paris, the successive periods in his art were heavily influenced by his love interests: Dora Maar, Françoise Gilot and his second wife, Jacqueline Roque. His late works show as much vitality as his earlier works, and he continued to produce paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture and ceramics into his 90s. Although he never lived in Spain again, his earliest experiences, his family and his culture remained a creative force in his art until his death at the age of 91 on April 8, 1973.
Among the works to be seen in Picasso's Marie-Thérèse are some of the artist's most iconic, yet rarely seen, images, thus providing visitors to the exhibition a rare visual treat. Such paintings and drawings will include Head of a Woman (1931), Nude in a Black Armchair (1932) and Still Life with Tulips (1932). (For more information about other featured works in the exhibition, please see "Picasso's Marie-Thérèse, An Exhibition to be Shown Exclusively in New York City: Highlighted Works to be on View," which is included in this press kit.)
Accompanying Picasso's Marie-Thérèse will be a fully illustrated, hardcover catalogue with essays by Michael Fitzgerald, professor of fine arts at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and curator and author of Picasso and American Art (Whitney Museum of American Art and Yale University Press, 2006), and Making Modernism: Picasso and the Creation of a Market for Twentieth-Century Art (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1995); and Elizabeth Cowling, reader in the history of art, University of Edinburgh, and co-curator of Picasso: Sculptor/Painter at the Tate, London (1994), and of Matisse/Picasso at Tate Modern in London, Grand Palais in Paris and Museum of Modern Art in New York, (2002-2003). Her award-winning monograph, Picasso: Style and Meaning was published in 2002 (Phaidon).
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If journalists wish to use the images provided for the exhibition 'Picasso Marie-Therese' for any manner other then timely reporting and exhibition review, they must first clear rights with Artists Rights Society.
All images by Pablo Picasso are © 2008 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York