From Publishers Weekly
It may have been obvious at the time, but the fact that the two (arguably) greatest painters of the 20th century exchanged ideas fluidly, obliquely and prolifically comes as a shock when put as starkly as in this catalogue and the international blockbuster exhibition it accompanies. The authors, eminent curators all, put together the exhibition (currently hanging at New York's Museum of Modern Art) and contribute a total of 34 short essays contrasting particular works and exploring the currents of the two men's mutual influence, including fauvism and cubism. Matisse's Le bonheur de vivre (1905-6) cemented itself in Picasso's mind from their first meeting, and would "reverberate in Picasso's imagination throughout his life," writes Golding. Varnedoe notes the influence of Matisse's Goldfish and Palette on Picasso's 1915 Harlequin, recalling how a dealer said that Matisse declared that his goldfish had "led to" the other man's harlequin. Unfortunately, an indifferent layout and setting of the text takes some of the charge out of the comparisons-a problem that extends to the flat-seeming cover. And a fairly big chunk of Picasso's oeuvre may look dated to many readers, particularly in comparing his late drawings with Matisse's cut-outs. But the mini-essays are of high quality, and anyone who cares about 20th century art will want to be able to trace the overt and covert steals and competitions chronicled here, as well as the often warm personal relationship.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
Anne Baldassari is Curator at the Musée Picasso, Paris.
Elizabeth Cowling is Senior Curator at the Department of Fine Art, University of Edinburgh.
John Elderfield is Chief Curator at Large at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
John Golding is a freelance art historian based in London.
Isabelle Monod-Fontaine is Deputy Director at the Musée national d'art moderne/Centre Pompidou, Paris.
Kirk Varnedoe, formerly Chief Curator of the Department of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, is Professor of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University.