Glory Years: Collectors, agents, gallery owners

Glory Years: Collectors, agents, gallery owners
Could you imagine the excitement when artists, who were struggling to make a living and had trouble selling their work, were told that Dr Barnes was in the city and buying up almost everything he could find.   He was an opinionated American, self-made millionaire and collector. He arrived in Paris in December 1922 and, with dealer Paul Guillaume, he wanted to visit everyone, everywhere. Sometimes he bought art, sometimes he didn’t. He was prone to criticize and could be pleasant or not.   Barnes soon discovered Chaim Soutine. He had seen Soutine’s, The Pastry Cook, bought it and wanted more. Guillaume took him to see Leopold Zborowski. He supported Soutine and was selling his work from his apartment on rue Joseph Bara. Barnes bought everything available for the (then) gigantic sum of $3000. But that wasn’t the end of it. By the time he left, he had purchased works by Modigliani, Utrillo, Soutine, Kisling, Derain, Lipchitz, Marie Laurencin, Pascin and others.  By 1923, he was constructing The Barnes Foundation and purchased over 900 tons of French limestone. They were adorned with two giant bas-reliefs done by Jacques Lipchitz. Barnes also added Cezanne’s Card Players to his collection in 1925, the same years that he published his first book, The Art in Painting.Dr Barnes was awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur by the French Government in 1926 and Officer in 1933. It was he who installed Matisse’s The Dance mural the same year.   Meanwhile, the dealers were doing a landoffice business. Guillaume himself promoted and collected Matisse, Picasso, Derain, and Rousseau, as well as Modigliani, Utrillo and Soutine. He exhibited Matisse and Picasso together as, he correctly felt, they had much in common. Guillaume was also a collector of Cezanne and Renoir. He purchased Cezanne’s Apples and Biscuits, Renoir’s Young Girls at the Pino, Marie Laurencin’s Portrait of Mlle Chanel and Matisse’s Three Sisters.   Of course, Vollard and Kahnwieller had sold many Picassos as well. As a matter of fact, when Leo and Gertrude Stein first bought Cézannes and Picassos, they found them at Abroise Vollards tiny studio. Cezanne was a magic word for Vollard who had a keen eye for Impressionist art. The Picassos were sold very cheaply but he had not really been discovered yet. The purchaser of Young Girl with Flowers by the Steins started a friendship between artist and Miss Stein. Soon Picasso did a portrait of Gertrude Stein which he gave her as a gift. He explained that in those days there was very little difference between a gift and a sale. Once Gertrude hung the portrait in her well travelMatisse paintings in America.   Two friends of Gertrude and her friend Alice were the Cone sisters. They too began collecting the art of the day and returned to Baltimore with some of the best modern paintings of the day. Claribel was a physician and pathologist. She and her sister Etta, an amateur musician, were friends of both Gertrude and Sarah. They too began collecting art for their respective apartments in Baltimore. Sometimes they would buy sketches gleaned from the discards on the floor of Picasso’s studio for as little as $2 or $3 each.   Clarabel knew Gertrude from her John Hopkins days. The Cones had inherited a large sum from the family’s textile business. By the time they were through, they owned about 500 Matisse’s, Gauguin’s Portrait of a Cellist, three Degas bronze ballerinas, including the Little Dancer aged 14, a Renoir, Cezanne’s Bathers and Paul Signac’s Quay at Clichy. They also owned a Dufy, Ernst and Yves Tanguy all worth about $100,000. The collection went to the Baltimore Museum of Art when they died. Today, the museum boasts a special Cone wing which allows one to see their diverse and fascinating collection.    The collectors often held shows, some of which were stepping stones to the artist’s fame. The Stein’s collection was on view all the time to those who were lucky enough to be invited to their soirees on the rue de Fleurus and rue Madam. Pierre Loeb was also a dealer who helped by mounting exhibitions of Pascin, Miro, Picasso, Braque, Utrillo, Derain and the Surrealists. His gallery was at 13, rue Bonaparte.   Berthe Weill specialized in women artists like Alice Halicka, Hermine David, Valentine Prax and The Licorne Group, which included Edouard Georg, Per Krohg and Jules Pascin. She was a passionate supporter of those she chose to support. Always a popular figure, more than fifty artists toasted her at a twenty-fifth anniversary party with flowers and speeches.  Adolphe Rasler, the man with the black umbrella, lived in Montparnasse. He dealt from his apartment until he opened a very conservative gallery in 1929 at 13, rue de Sevres where he concentrated on Dufy and Utrillo.   Pre WWI art was fueled by those who collected and showed in their salons, but after the war, new art and art speculation was taken over by the dealers who became famous and rich. They set up shows and fostered those who would create the new art of the twentieth century. ed salon, Picasso’s popularity grew. Of course, it certainly helped that Gertrude and Picasso had discussed Cubism, not by name of course, but the portrait was soon followed by Les Demoiselles d’Avignan. Gertrude kept collecting, and while the collection is not like the…
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