The Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA) presents Picasso at Fontainebleau, an exhibition focusing on three months in the legendary artist’s career when he created an astonishingly diverse body of work in the French town of Fontainebleau between July and September 1921. The exhibition will be on view from 8 October 2023 to 17 February 2024.
Fig. above: Pablo Picasso. The Spring Fontainebleau. 1921. Oil on canvas, 25 3/16 × 35 7/16″ (64 × 90 cm). Moderna Museet, Stockholm. Gift of Grace and Philip Sandblom. © 2023 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Picasso at Fontainebleau brings together four monumental canvas works, both versions of Picasso’s Three Musicians and Three Women at the Spring, with other paintings, drawings, etchings and pastels created at Fontainebleau. These works, encompassing both Cubist and Neoclassical styles, are presented together for the first time since they were created in Picasso’s makeshift garage studio and are complemented by never-before-seen photographs and archival documents. Picasso in Fontainebleau is organised by Anne Umland, The Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture, together with Alexandra Morrison, Curatorial Assistant, and Francesca Ferrari, former Mellon-Marron Research Consortium Fellow, Department of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the artist’s death, MoMA’s exhibition is part of the International Picasso Celebration 1973-2023, which is extraordinarily supported by the Musée National Picasso-Paris.
“Picasso’s decision to paint the startlingly different Three Musicians and Three Women at MoMA in Fontainebleau in the summer of 1921, virtually simultaneously and on a grand scale, challenges expectations of artistic development and stylistic consistency,” Umland said. “This exhibition extends the museum’s commitment to exploring new ways of seeing, thinking about, and interpreting iconic works in the collection.”
Picasso at Fontainebleau is organized chronologically, beginning with a prelude to the three months the artist spent at Fontainebleau. Cubist and Neoclassical works exhibited in Paris in early 1921 are on view in the first gallery, accompanied by a selection of Picasso’s designs for the Ballets Russes and related print projects. The exhibition transitions to Picasso’s time at Fontainebleau and features his precisely dated line drawings of the interior and exterior of his rented villa at 33 boulevard Gambetta (now 33 boulevard du Général Leclerc) in Fontainebleau, along with documents from the artist’s archives and some 30 family and studio photographs, many of which are on view for the first time.
The passageway connecting the two exhibition spaces is about the size of Picasso’s studio at Fontainebleau and measures 20 by 10 feet.With ghostly, full-scale black-and-white reproductions of Three Musicians and Three Women at the Spring, this room recreates the compressed environment in which Picasso worked in the summer of 1921
Picasso’s last gallery at Fontainebleau brings together for the first time many of Picasso’s works from Fontainebleau, including the two versions of Three Musicians and Three Women at Spring, as well as five large, pastel head drawings closely associated with Three Women at Spring. Following the installation of Picasso’s studio in Fontainebleau, the exhibition presents the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Three Musicians and MoMA’s Three Women in Spring side by side for the first time since 1921. These two stylistically disjointed, six-foot-tall paintings, created around the same time, underscore the interconnectedness of Picasso’s working process across different media, models, and visual idioms.
CATALOGUE: Picasso at Fontainebleau is accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue, co-edited by Anne Umland with Francesca Ferrari and Alexandra Morrison, featuring never-before-seen photographs and archival documents, as well as numerous reproductions of the artist’s paintings and works on paper. Fifteen essays co-authored by art historians and conservators focus on different groups of works, offering both a comprehensive overview of a remarkably productive moment in Picasso’s creative life and an in-depth look at the captivating artworks he created during his summer at Fontainebleau. 228 pages, 239 colour illustrations. Hardcover, $65. ISBN: 978-1-63345-139-1. Published by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and available in MoMA shops and online at store.moma.org. Distributed by ARTBOOK|D.A.P. in the United States and Canada and by Thames & Hudson in the rest of the world.
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