- An Artful Life: A Biography of D. H. Kahnweiler, 1884-1979Our PickBy Pierre Assouline
- Rogues' Gallery: A History of Art and its DealersOur PickBy Philip Hook
- Kahnweiler: My Galleries and PaintersBy Francis Crémieux, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, John Russell
- Rise of CubismBy Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler
- Making Modernism: Picasso and the Creation of the Market for Twentieth-Century ArtBy Michael C. Fitzgerald
- Dealing Art on Both Sides of the Atlantic, 1860-1940By Lynn Catterson
- Art in France: 1900-1940By Christopher Green
Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler and Important Artists and Artworks
This proto-Cubist work by Picasso - destined to become one of the most iconic works in the history of world art - depicts five prostitutes on the Carrer d'Avinyó in Barcelona. Most of the figures engage the gaze of the viewer in a direct manner and this, coupled with the artist's general preference for disjointed representation, amounted to a flagrant affront to the conventions of the female nude. Indeed, the women, described by Kahnweiler as "rigid, like mannequins", are imposing in their collective stance. Reflecting Picasso's interest in primitivism, meanwhile, the facial features of the two figures to the right are modelled, not on Western ideals of female beauty, but rather on African masks. The flat, two-dimensional space the women inhabit is similarly angular with an overall effect that marked a truly radical move away from traditional European paintings.
Kahnweiler visited Picasso's studio where he became mesmerized by Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (as it was named later). Though he had been reluctant to sell, Picasso, who was still an unknown artist at the time, and who had become dispirited by the negative responses to the work, was won over by the 23-year-old German's genuine enthusiasm for his painting. Kahnweiler remarked later that something "admirable, extraordinary, inconceivable had occurred" between the two men, and his positive response, coupled with his immediate decision to purchase the painting, proved a turning point in the career of a newly galvanised artist. Kahnweiler saw this painting as the birth of Cubism, writing "this is the first upsurge, a desperate titanic clash with all of the problems at once".
Keen to support his star artist in his Cubist experiments, Kahnweiler sat for this portrait no less than 30 times. Although working in a traditional idiom - a seated portrait of the artist's dealer - Picasso was not interested in literal representations. He represented his sitter through a series of angular shapes and shifting surfaces which combine to create only an impression of the subject. The planes convey multiple viewpoints, bringing into view Kahnweiler's face and hands via use of lighter shading while other details are discernible amidst the cutting lines and edges of the shapes: Kahnweiler's watch chain (which could be an allusion from Picasso to his dealer's obsession with punctuality), and the waves of his hair, for example. The art critic Jonathan Jones observed that Kahnweiler "haunts [the painting] like a shadow of himself, a nuclear ghost imprinted in space [...] It is not a picture of him. And yet he is fully there, his identity glimpsed with a strange warm intimacy through the shattered glass of the modernist age".
Picasso's contract gave him the financial security he needed to develop his style freely; a decision the Spaniard acknowledged when he observed: "what would have become of us if Kahnweiler hadn't had a business sense?". Indeed, despite their combustible personalities, the two men made a formidable team. As Philip Hook said of Kahnweiler, "in the end, his life and career was justified by his unlikely relationship with Picasso". This portrait was one of the many paintings "sold off" in the notorious Hôtel Drouot auctions in Paris in June 1921 and was purchased by the Swedish expressionist painter Isaac Grünewald before eventually finding its way into the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Considered one of the principal figures in the Fauvist movement, Village is typical of Vlaminck's pre-war period when the artist sought to capture mood and atmosphere over realistic picture detail. He achieved this through the use of heavy brushwork and a distinctively bold palette. In this particular painting, Vlaminck's use of thick dabs of color in place of individual leaves on the tree in the left foreground mirror the wide strokes of the clouds in the sky, thereby creating a sense of movement and stormy foreboding.
Vlaminck met fellow painter André Derain on a train to Paris in the early 1900s and the two forged a lifelong friendship, even renting studio space together at the start of their careers. Derain had been one of the first artists to sign an exclusive contract with Kahnweiler in 1912, and Vlaminck followed suit in 1913. Kahnweiler influenced both artists in encouraging them to explore the medium of woodcuts and African art. Despite his close relationship with the art dealer, however, Vlaminck was staunchly resentful of Cubism (and particularly Picasso) and remained steadfast in his commitment to the more expressive Fauvist style. Unlike Picasso, Vlaminck was loyal to Kahnweiler during the German's forced exile and publicly protested the Hôtel Drouot sales of his collection following the First World War.