McClain Gallery is pleased to present a selection of prints by Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, arguably two of the most influential artists of the 20th Century. From drypoint and etchings to lithographs and aquatints, this grouping demonstrates the skill and versatility of these modern masters as they explore mythological themes, portraiture and the classical nude.
Well represented in the exhibition are prints by Picasso spanning four critical decades of his career: from an early 1920's drypoint to key prints from the well known Vollard Suite, a cycle of one hundred etchings completed by Picasso in the 1930s for Parisian art dealer Ambroise Vollard. They represent themes of a sculptor's studio, with dialogue alternating between the artist and his creation and the artist and his model, namely his mistress and muse Marie-Thérèse Walter. Several drypoint etchings (dated 1936) and color aquatints (dated 1939) depict surrealist photographer Dora Maar, whom Picasso met in the winter of 1935-36: the two were lovers until the early 1940s, through the turmoil of the Spanish Civil War and the outbreak of World War II.
Picasso rediscovered lithography in the 1940s, at the workshop of Fernand Mourlot in Paris; one monumental series created there, Woman in an Armchair, exists in thirty experimental variations. Two such examples are included here, highlighting the artist's mastery of the medium as well as depicting Françoise Gilot, Picasso's lover from 1943-1953. The early 1960s are represented by several works, including a lone male portrait: a rare impression of Fumeur barbu 1964, and an energetic linocut in three colors of a woman wearing a blue straw hat.
The relationship, at times turbulent and competitive, but always creatively stimulating, between the Spanish Picasso and the French Henri Matisse is well documented. Widely regarded as the greatest printmaker of the 20th Century, Matisse, like Picasso, worked with a variety of printmaking methods throughout his career.
Matisse began working with lithography in 1906 and found the immediacy of the process lent itself to sketch-like prints such asLes Yeux noire (dated 1913), an expressive portrait made with a series of elegant outline and contour lines. Further exhibiting the versatility of the medium is the intricate detail and texture achieved in his piece Odalisque voile, 1925, which also reveals Matisse's distinct painting style.
This exhibition brings together iconic imagery from both Matisse and Picasso in a way that highlights both their celebration of printmaking as a versatile medium and their dialogue as two of the most important artists of their time.