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Picasso's complete Vollard Suite goes on view at Dartmouth

Posted 11/28/00

For the first time in more than 20 years, Pablo Picasso's Vollard Suite, created between 1930 and 1937, will be on display in its entirety this winter at the Hood Museum of Art.

The museum's collection of Picasso's 100 prints is one of a handful of complete sets known to exist in the United States, and it offers an unforgettable glimpse of Picasso's studio life and personality during one of his most fruitful periods.

Compiled by French art dealer and publisher Ambroise Vollard, the series reveals both Picasso's public and private personas through its concentration on artistic practice. Works in this exhibition will be hung chronologically, highlighting the tremendous burst of creative energy the Vollard Suite represents. He completed the entire series, 62 prints of which were created in 1933 alone, in seven years. As the series evolves, one can trace the emergence and evolution of several recurring themes, including "sculptor's studio," "minotaur," Vollard, Rembrandt, and sexual violence and desire.

Picasso: The Vollard Suite, 1930-1937 will open in conjunction with the Hood Museum of Art's annual Holiday Gala on Wednesday, Dec. 13 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The celebration will feature live music and a reception hosted by the Friends of Hopkins Center and Hood Museum of Art.

Images of life in a sculptor's studio comprise the bulk of the print series and focus on daily activity in Picasso's workshop. Prints such as Sculptor, Model, and Sculpted Bust (March 17, 1933) illustrate idealized self-portraits of Picasso reclining or working with nude models and various pieces of art. The prints offer insight into Picasso's often tempestuous love life as well as his particular working style.

The two Minotaur series focus on the half-man, half-bull of Greek mythology and are believed to be early meditations on figures that appear later in Picasso's monumental mural Guernica (1937). The Minotaur themes also showcase Picasso's full command of the print medium: these works range in style from crisp line art to the more evocative, heavily scratched Blind Minotaur Guided by a Young Girl through the Night (November 1934).

Two groups of prints explore portraiture and celebrate the different roles that individuals can play in the arts. Ambroise Vollard championed Picasso, Renoir, Cezanne, Gauguin, and Van Gogh in his gallery, and the inclusion of portraits of him in this series recognizes this support while celebrating his role as visionary of the Vollard Suite. Picasso's images of Rembrandt are interpretations of the Old Master's self-portraits combined with Picasso's own female nudes. These images represent the influence canonical artists have on modern innovators as well as Picasso's awareness of himself as one of the many artists throughout history who have been interested in self-representation.

Works such as The Rape, IV (April 22, 1933) serve as striking contrasts to many of the linear prints. While some works in the series showcase male tenderness toward a female, others emphasize male dominance and violence. The twisting and melding of figures in these darker works contrast with the strong neo-classical elements of the majority of prints in the Vollard Suite.

Ninety-seven of the Vollard Suite prints were donated by Wallace K. Harrison to the Hood Museum of Art in 1965 in honor of New York governor Nelson Rockefeller '30. The remaining three were purchased by the museum shortly thereafter. The last complete exhibition of the Vollard Suite at Dartmouth College was in 1980.

This exhibition is organized by the Hood Museum of Art and has been made possible through the generous support of the Ray Winfield Smith 1918 Fund.

Associated Events

Opening Events
Wednesday, Dec. 13, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Hood Museum of Art Galleries
Held in conjunction with the Hood Museum of Art's Annual Holiday Gala, featuring live music and refreshments.

Gallery Talk
Wednesday, Jan. 10, 5 p.m.
"Introduction to the Vollard Suite," Katherine Hart, Barbara C. and Harvey P. Hood 1918 Curator of Academic Programming

Gallery Talk
Wednesday, Feb. 7, 5 p.m.
"The Influence of Rembrandt's Art on Picasso's Vollard Suite," Janie Cohen, Assistant Director and Curator, Robert Hull Fleming Museum, Burlington, Vermont

Wednesday, Feb. 21, 5:30 p.m.
Arthur M. Loew Auditorium
"Beauty and the Beast: The Elegant and the Grotesque in Picasso's Vollard Suite," Kirsten Hoving, Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont

Introductory tours of the Vollard Suite are offered on the following Saturdays at 2 p.m.: Jan. 20, Feb. 10, March 10.

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