Picasso and the Modern Masters

The modern masters of the 20th century are typically known to the broadest of fine art collectors. What may not be known is how Matisse, Chagall, Miro and Pablo Picasso integrated their works on paper - fine art prints created typically as lithographs, etchings, drawings, aquatints and for Picasso linocuts. Of course staying confined by "traditional" mediums was never a pre-requisite for these master fine artists: Joan Miro worked in ceramics, Chagall was known to apply his lithographic imagery to paintings and glass; Matisse exposed the beauty of cut-outs and Picasso dedicated a portion of the 1950's elevating traditional printing techniques beyond what the master print makers in Europe had experienced before.


Each of the masters found inspiration and insight from their contemporaries. As demonstrated at the Museum of Modern Art's P.S. 1, 2003 group show, Matisse and Picasso shared as friends and challenged one another with each new work. This challenge was also instilled by the great European dealers and publishers from the likes of Ambroise Vollard to the Parisian ateliers including Mourlot.


About Henri Matisse (1869-1954): Born on December 31, 1869, Henri Matisse's life would follow what is today a frequent passing - influenced into a professional career by family expectation only to find his true passion from experimenting on the side. Due to a municipal art instructor's influence (Gustave Moreau), and the initial guidance by his mother, Matisse found his fine art voice. His natural abilities as a fine artist easily garnered recognition and importance for the arts to a level that his works are rarely matched.

Along with his vast body of works that include paintings and prints, Matisse's elder years (referred to as the "Late Matisse Period") link his traditional foundations to his abstract sensibilities. He demonstrated how the brush could be transformed into scissor and yielded the world with his great cut-out period.

About Joan Miro (1893-1983): One of Spain's great artists, Joan Miro spent a lifetime in the arts and left this great country with an additional Master art ambassador. His works line the streets of his home town of Barcelona and the walls of public and private collectors worldwide.

Influenced in his teens by two teachers from La Lonja Academy of Fine Arts (Modesto Urgelle and Jose Pasco), Miro's entrance into the art school of Francisco Gali became definitive. Miro's interest and influence from contemporary painting, Impressionism, Fauvism, and Cubism solidified.

Although success eluded Miro during his first Paris show in 1921, Miro ultimately became an important figure for surrealism. His influences from other Spanish artists include the architect Gaudi as well as his friendship with Pablo Picasso while in Paris. Miro's life in Paris included frequent contact with Andre Breton, Louis Aragon, Paul Eluard and even Henry Miller and Ernest Hemmingway. His career, like so many artists in Europe, had to accommodate the winds of war.

After marrying Pilar Juncosa in October 1930, Miro moved between France and Spain. By 1942, Joan began working in ceramics in Barcelona. His acceptance as a leading artist had reached the shores of London and by 1947, the United States. Upon his return from America Miro created various engravings and lithographs that have become important to his larger body of works.

About Marc Chagall (1887-1985): Chagall's style, while reflective of cubist, expressionist and surrealist affinities, is immersed in the personal. His contribution to early modern painting and printmaking is recognized consistently at the master level. In 1910, after attending academy in St. Petersburg, Chagall moved to Paris, where he would live for the majority of his 97 years. There he met the poets Max Jacob, Blaise Centrars and Andre Salmeon, and the painters Modigliani, Delaunay, LaFresnaye, along with other cubists and independents.

The complexities of Chagall's aesthetics are apt to be obscured somewhat by the whimsical fantastic subject matter. Although cubism had an early and formative influence upon his works, it did not detract from his uniqueness of expression. His style became increasingly romantic and devoted to fantastic narratives during the middle 1920's. Chagall's first lithography plates (30 in all from 1922-23) were executed in crayon on lithographic paper.

An intimate associate of the artist, Charles Solier, observed that: "For Chagall, lithography is not just a means of reproducing his work, but an essential component of a form of creation that cannot find expression through any other medium." A Chagall lithograph is rarely based on one of his paintings, but his canvases are often adaptations from his lithographs, which serve as working sketches. Unlike Picasso, whose graphic work often took a completely different direction from paintings; Chagall's lithographs and etchings merge effortlessly with his creations in other media.

GALLERY M proudly presented a select group of over 80 documented, pristine condition works at the 2006 Modern Master's show in Denver, October 2-20, 2006. Collectors at all levels attended this one time public event.

*Pg 14, Pablol Picasso Lithographs, 2000 by Hatje Cantz Publishers

Back to top