Wuzzon da Block?

There are some nice offerings at the fall auctions in NY, but before we get to the paintings, it is noteworthy that for the first time, at least of which I’m aware, prints have made one of the storied evening sales.  Both their low estimates exceed the million $ barrier, and both are at Christie’s, consisting of an unsigned Minotauromachie and a signed impression of  La Femme qui Pleure, I (Bl.1333), the final (7th) state: What’s even more remarkable, it seems to me, is the unusually large number of really nice paintings, eleven in the Christie’s evening sale alone. At Sotheby’s, there’s the fascinating 1927 Guitare accroché au mur: and the huge late Picasso painting, one of the nicer ones, […]

Wuzzon da Block? Read More »

Picasso Orphans

Deux vieux lisant une lettre, 1962  Earlier today, while shelving some recent auction catalogues, I started leafing through one of them to the dog-eared pages which marked the Picassos, when a wonderful drawing hit me again.   Now don’t call me a grumpy old man, but I find it surprising when every now and then a great work falls through the cracks and the art market doesn’t notice.  Take these two old men.  Sure, this is not a drawing of a woman, much less a naked woman,  and it doesn’t have a drop of color.  It’s not large (but at 35 cm, not that small either) and it’s not an oil, just a lowly pencil and paper.   But the above

Picasso Orphans Read More »

Jerry Won!

The “Ledor Gallery Race Car”, courtesy of driver/owner Jerry Kroll, propelled by dachshund power, just won the 2011 Sports Club of America (SCCA) Championship for Formula Enterprise.  Go Jerry!  

Jerry Won! Read More »

The Measure of the Man: Introduction to the de Young Picasso Exhibit

  It is impossible to fully appreciate the breadth and depth of Picasso’s art without pouring through his catalogues raisonnés (the tomes that illustrate all of his known artworks).  Visiting the Picasso Museum in Paris is as close as one can come to achieving this goal by looking at the actual art.  The traveling loan from that museum at the de Young includes many masterpieces but is still a very small sample of his work.  It’s about as representative as 150 of his artworks could be, but he created so many varied styles and subjects that they couldn’t be included in any depth, or some of them included at all, in a show of this size.  The exemplars of the Blue

The Measure of the Man: Introduction to the de Young Picasso Exhibit Read More »

Picasso in Exile

Why bother visiting Paris, you might ask, as long as the Picasso Museum remains closed?  Good question.  But my family and I decided to go anyway, unwilling to wait another year.  Our Picasso treasure hunt therefore required a little extra work, since you couldn’t very well go to just one place and be greeted by Picasso’s many persons and things.  Our first Picasso sighting was just a fortunate accident–while strolling near our flat, my wife Casey spotted this wonderful, if bird-stained, bronze of Dora Maar (Tête de femme, aka Monument à Guillaume Apollinaire) in a small garden in the shadow of the gothic Church of St. Germain des Prés (located at its eponymous square).  This wartime sculpture (1941) was chosen by committee to

Picasso in Exile Read More »


The Picasso Museum on wheels, currently at the de Young in San Francisco, is such a wonderful show (see “Picasso by the Bay” below) that it’s almost easier to discuss what’s not there than what is.  Well not quite, though each great Picasso, in addition to being loved and understood on its own merits, must be seen in the context of his entire oeuvre for full appreciation, given the added dimensions that the context inevitably provides.  I won’t again trot out the by now overused Picasso-ism about the movement of his thought interesting him (in his later years) more than the thought itself–there, I said it anyway. But nowhere is that movement better preserved, with the exception of the successive


Picasso by the Bay

  San Francisco is so awash in Picasso this summer that I feel like I never left New York.  First the Steins’ Picassos, then the de Young, last night Woody Alan (pleasant fluff, but what a one-dimensional Picasso; though I suppose Woody may not have needed any more dimensions in the service of his film), and we haven’t yet even gotten to the ceramics show at the Legion of Honor.  The Steins Collect show at the SFMOMA is quite wonderful (ending Sept. 6; see above), but since it trails off near the beginning of Synthetic Cubism (when Picassos grew too dear for the Steins’ budget), it is good preparation for the de Young Museum exhibit: Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National

Picasso by the Bay Read More »


Among the ways the Stein collection (currently on view at the SFMOMA) can be viewed is as one family’s referendum on the time-honored debate among art lovers: Picasso versus Matisse.  Those two artists contributed most of the significant pieces to the collection. Yet in addition to her brother Leo’s objection to  Gertrude’s sapphic relationship, the disagreement that developed between these siblings as to who was the better artist, Matisse or Picasso, tore them apart, drove Leo out of their shared apartment, and caused each of them to divest most of his or her holdings of the artist who had lost favor.  They’re presumably not the first couple to have suffered such a fate (though they may have been the first).  The poet


Role Reversal?

Lately I’ve come to think that the market and I see things differently.  For example, I would have significantly altered the estimates on the Picasso lots in the recent Sotheby’s New York Imp/Mod Evening Sale.  The giveaway of the night, and in my opinion the best Picasso oil of the season, is the above 1930 Femme.  This surrealist masterpiece was hugely underpriced and should have easily fetched three times the $8M it went for.  At least two people must have had a glimmer of its value, since it nicely exceeded its $3-5M estimate.  But, in my opinion, this painting is one of the very best of Picasso’s “meat eaters”, rivaling even the MOMA’s great La Baigneuse, which you know so

Role Reversal? Read More »

Wuzzon on da Block?

1932 was a great year for Picasso.  He had just turned 50, which must have made him want to take stock.  He was also commemorating that birthday by personally curating his first museum show, which took place that year in Zurich and which has now been largely reassembled in an exhibit at the same museum, Kunsthaus Zürich, ending January 30–as far as I know the only artist’s show ever to be revived (a nice catalogue accompanies the show entitled Picasso by Picasso: His First Museum Exhibition 1932).  Picasso had long since emerged as the preeminent artist of his time, but this year, as if to underscore his supremacy, he had revved up into high gear and was cranking out one masterpiece

Wuzzon on da Block? Read More »