Juan Gris, Newspaper and Fruit Dish (Journal et compotier), March 1916. Oil on canvas, 46 x 37.8 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Gift, Estate of Katherine S. Dreier 53.1341
BILBAO.- The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is presenting Windows on the City: The School of Paris, 1900 – 1945 , an exhibition of more than 50 masterpieces from the collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. This exhibition is the first since the renewal of the management agreement with the Guggenheim Foundation, signed in December 2014 and valid for 20 years. The agreement provides for a range of new initiatives that will broaden the partnership and emphasizes the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s commitment to present an exhibition of key, iconic works from its collection every two years at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
Windows on the City: The School of Paris, 1900 – 1945 includes some of the most influential paintings and sculptures of the last century, created by artists such as Constantin Brancusi, Georges Braque, Robert Delaunay, Amedeo Modigliani, and Pablo Picasso.
Pablo Picasso, Le Moulin de la Galette, autumn 1900. Oil on canvas, 88.2 x 115.5 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Thannhauser Collection, Gift, Justin K. Thannhauser 78.2514.34 © Sucesión Pablo Picasso. VEGAP, Bilbao, 2016
In the early twentieth century, Paris was the capital of the avant-garde. Artists from around the world settled in the City of Light, where they created new forms of art and literature and responded to the rapid economic, social, and technological developments that were fundamentally transforming city life. It was in Paris that Picasso and Braque radically overturned the conventions of painting, Delaunay composed harmonious visions of color, Kandinsky pursued new directions in abstraction, and Brancusi reimagined how sculptures could be present in space. The title of the exhibition, which refers to a series by Delaunay, illustrates how the modern city became a backdrop and an inspiration for artistic production.
Spanning from the first years of the twentieth century through World War II, the exhibition charts the key movements of modernism—from Cubism to Orphism to Surrealism—and the artists who came to be known as the École de Paris (School of Paris). Among the masterpieces featured are Picasso’s Le Moulin de la Galette (1900), Modigliani’s Nude (1917), and Marc Chagall’s Green Violinist (1923–24). Though diverse, the artistic visions represented in this exhibition manifest a common impulse to eschew conservative aesthetics and transform perceptions of everyday life in a modern city.
The rise of Fascism and the occupation of France during World War II ultimately ended the School of Paris, as the artists who had once sought political, spiritual, and creative refuge in the city were forced to leave.
Georges Braque, Piano and Mandola (Piano et mandore), winter 1909–10. Oil on canvas, 91.7 x 42.8 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 54.1411.
A tour through the exhibition
Cubism was one of the most important artistic innovations that emerged in Paris in the first half of the twentieth century. This revolutionary approach to painting, developed by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque between 1907 and 1914, challenged the conventions of visual art and the very nature of representation. This gallery includes key works that exemplify Analytic Cubism, an intellectual style in which form and space are “broken down;” Braque’s Piano and Mandola (1909–10) and Picasso’s Bottles and Glasses (1911–12) feature many characteristics of this approach, including a muted palette. While still recognizable in these paintings, objects are fractured into multiple planes, as is the background.
Pablo Picasso, Bottles and Glasses (Bouteilles et verres), winter 1911–12. Oil on paper, mounted on canvas, 64.4 x 49.5 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection, By gift 38.539 © Sucesión Pablo Picasso. VEGAP, Bilbao, 2016
In the years leading up to and following World War I, artists used the visual vocabulary of Cubism to achieve various ends, such as exploring pure abstraction and modern science, and infusing contemporary experience with the spirituality of folk traditions. Robert Delaunay’s depictions of Parisian life and landmarks, are exemplified in works such as Red Eiffel Tower (1911-12), while his later abstract painting, Circular Forms (1930) showcases his interest in contemporary developments in optics.
In this gallery, visitors can also observe Green Violinist (1923) by Russian artist Marc Chagall, who produced this painting upon his return to Paris after having spent much of World War I in his home country. The work merges the Cubist fragmentation of space with colorful imagery inspired by Russian and Jewish folklore, conveying the artist’s nostalgia for the religious festivals and popular celebrations of his youth.
The work of Constantin Brancusi, who traveled from his native Romania to settle in Paris in 1904, rejects the theatrical, narrative impulse of much nineteenth-century sculpture in favor of radically simplified, abstract forms and the unadorned presentation of wood, metal, and other materials. Brancusi never identified the specific sources or meanings of his works, but The Sorceress (1916–24) might relate to a supernatural figure from Romanian legends.
Marcel Duchamp, Apropos of Little Sister (À propos de jeune soeur), October 1911. Oil on canvas, 73 x 60 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 71.1944 © The Estate of Marcel Duchamp / VEGAP, Bilbao, 2016.
After the First World War, Paris once again became a center of cultural production. During that time, the adherents of Surrealism—a movement inaugurated with André Breton’s 1924 manifesto—were also counted as part of the School of Paris. Drawing on the theories of Sigmund Freud, these writers and artists attempted to articulate and give form to repressed desires, dream imagery, and other elements of the unconscious. Some, like Yves Tanguy, juxtaposed incongruous images and objects; others, like Jean Arp and Joan Miró, experimented with automatism, creating drawings without a premeditated composition or subject in order to bypass the conscious mind. Influenced by Arp and Miró, American sculptor Alexander Calder created a language of movement and balance with his famous mobiles and wire sculptures, including Romulus and Remus (1928).
Vasily Kandinsky, who made significant advances in abstract painting while living in Germany and Russia during the 1910s and ‘20s, settled in Paris in 1934. In his works from this period, including Yellow Painting (1938) and Around the Circle (1940), Kandinsky combines free-playing forms similar to those from his earliest abstractions with the more geometric and biomorphic shapes he developed while teaching at the Bauhaus.
Albert Gleizes, Portrait of an Army Doctor (Portrait d'un médecin militaire), 1914–15. Oil on canvas, 119.8 x 95.1 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection, By gift 37.473 © Albert Gleizes, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2016
Juan Gris, Houses in Paris (Maisons à Paris), 1911. Oil on canvas, 52.4 x 34.2 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Estate of Karl Nierendorf, By purchase 48.1172.33.
Robert Delaunay, Saint‑Séverin No. 3, 1909–10. Oil on canvas, 114.1 x 88.6 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection, By gift 41.462.
František Kupka, Form of Blue (La Forme du bleu), 1925. Oil on canvas, 80.3 x 72.4 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Gift, Andrew Powie Fuller and Geraldine Spreckels Fuller Collection 2000.31 © François Kupka, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2016
Robert Delaunay, Eiffel Tower with Trees (Tour Eiffel aux arbres), summer 1910. Oil on canvas, 126.4 x 92.8 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection 46.1035.
Fernand Léger, The Smokers (Les fumeurs), December 1911–January 1912. Oil on canvas, 129.2 x 96.5 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection, By gift 38.521.
Robert Delaunay, Circular Forms (Formes circulaires), 1930. Oil on canvas, 128.9 x 194.9 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection 49.1184
Marc Chagall, The Soldier Drinks (Le soldat boit), 1911–12. Oil on canvas, 109.2 x 94.6 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection 49.1211.
Piet Mondrian, Tableau No. 2/Composition No. VII, 1913. Oil on canvas, 105.1 x 114.3 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection 49.1228 © 2016, Mondrian/Holtzman Trust
Constantin Brancusi, King of Kings (Le roi des rois), ca. 1938. Oak, 300 x 48.3 x 46 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 56.1449 © 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Photo: David Heald © SRGF
Yves Tanguy, There, Motion Has Not Yet Ceased (Là ne finit pas encore le mouvement), 1945. Oil on canvas, 71.1 x 55.5 cm, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Bequest, Richard S. Zeisler 2007.47 © Estate of Yves Tanguy / VEGAP, Bilbao, 2016
Jean Arp, Constellation with Five White Forms and Two Black, Variation III (Constellation aux cinq formes blanches et deux noires, variation III), 1932. Oil on wood, 60 x 75.5 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 55.1437 © 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), Nueva York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Joan Miró, Landscape (The Hare) (Paysage [Le lièvre]), autumn 1927. Oil on canvas, 129.6 x 194.6 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 57.1459 © 2016 Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), Nueva York / ADAGP, París
Vasily Kandinsky, Capricious Forms (Formes capricieuses), July 1937. Oil on canvas, 88.9 x 116.3 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection 45.977
Wifredo Lam, Zambezia, Zambezia, 1950. Oil on canvas, 125.4 x 110.8 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Gift, Mr. Joseph Cantor 74.2095 © Wifredo Lam, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2016
Pablo Picasso, Mandolin and Guitar (Mandoline et guitar), 1924. Oil with sand on canvas, 140.7 x 200.3 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 53.1358 © Sucesión Pablo Picasso. VEGAP, Bilbao, 2016