Famed Spanish painter Pablo Picasso is in Glens Falls. OK, it’s actually some prints by Picasso, but they’re currently on display in Warren County, along with the works of a couple of Picasso’s contemporaries. Picasso, Braque & Léger: Twentieth Century Modern Masters is a new exhibition making its East Coast debut at Glens Falls’ Hyde Collection that highlights the founding fathers of Cubism and three of Europe’s most influential artists: Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Fernand Léger. Open since October 6 and running until January 5, the show displays highly prized original prints made by the trio of early Modern artists, and delves into their relationships not only with each other, but also with the printed word.
“All three [artists] were interested in writing,” says Jonathan Canning, the Hyde’s director of curatorial affairs and programming. “They hung out with contemporary writers in Paris in the period between the two World Wars, and they also worked with a lot of publishers.” Although many art shows these days tend to zero in on a particular time period in an artist’s oeuvre, the Twentieth Century Modern Masters exhibit will show off a much wider time span, encompassing evolving styles and tastes across the three artists’ long careers. “I think what’s sort of amazing for people who see the exhibit is the breadth in the artists’ work,” says Canning. “This isn’t just a Cubism show—you get to see a whole range of the artists’ styles.”
Some of the highlights from the show will include images from Picasso’s first-ever print series, Suite des Saltimbanques (1904-1905), as well as his last, Le Cocu Magnifique (1968). Also on display will be Braque’s beautiful “L’Ordre des Oiseaux” (The Order of Birds) with text by French poet Saint-John Perse as well as color lithographs from Leger’s series Les Illuminations, based on the prose poem collection of the same name by French author Arthur Rimbaud. Canning also points to a series of prints (illustrations, really) that Picasso was commissioned to do by Swiss publisher Albert Skira for an edition of Ovid’s famous epic poem Metamorphoses. About that series of simple albeit striking images, Canning says: “When he got into that commission, it really changed his style being inspired by the simple, plain outlines of Greek vase painters.”
The exhibit of international, early-20th century figures was a good fit at the Hyde, not only because it contrasted well with the museum’s upcoming annual Artists of the Mohawk Hudson Region exhibit—a juried show of contemporary, Capital Region-based artists that opens Saturday, October 12—but also because the Hyde actually has works by Picasso, Braque and Leger in its regular collection. “Charlotte Hyde [the Hyde’s founder] collected Picasso, and even had a Braque at one point,” says Canning. “So we have this reputation, and we do everything we can to bring the best art to this region.”
Though some of Picasso’s works may call the Hyde their home, this Twentieth Century Modern Masters exhibit marks the first time in more than a decade that an outside show featuring works by Picasso has visited the prestigious local collection. It may also be the last chance to see this exact exhibit for a while. “All of the works belong to one anonymous collector from California,” says Canning about Twentieth Century Modern Masters. “After us, it returns to California and back to the home of the collector.”