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Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler: Dealer and Publisher​

02.12.2022 – 19.03.2023

Pablo Picasso. 'Retrat de Daniel Kahnweiler'. 1957. Col·lecció Centre Pompidou, París © Successió Pablo Picasso, VEGAP Madrid, 2022

Jacqueline Picasso. Pablo Picasso dibuixant el retrat de Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler a La Californie, Canes, 1957. Col·lecció particular. © Successió Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid 2022 © Coll. Jacqueline Picasso, VEGAP, 2022

In the history of 20th-century art, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (1884–1979) is a legend. Originally from Germany, he chose to open his gallery in Paris in 1907 at 28 rue Vignon. The few exhibitions and presentations that he organised there until 1914 converted him into the pioneering dealer of Cubism. A promotor of Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, André Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck, and later of Juan Gris and Fernand Léger, Kahnweiler created an international network of Cubist collectors from the ground up, including Hermann Rupf, Roger Dutilleul, Vincent Kramar, Sergei Shchukin and Gertrude Stein. He also surrounded himself by the best critics, featuring Guillaume Apollinaire, Wilhelm Uhde, Ardengo Soffici and Carl Einstein. Kahnweiler was also a passionate writer who became a publisher to be able to bring together the poets and painters of the Cubist group in exquisitely edited volumes: among other, Apollinaire and Derain in L’Enchanteur pourrissant [The Rotting Sorcerer], from 1909, and Max Jacob and Picasso in Saint-Matorel, from 1910.

When the First World War broke out in 1914, this put an end to the gallery’s rise and to the market for Cubism as well, since the majority of artists of the time were called to arms. As a pacifist, Kahnweiler took refuge in Switzerland under the protection of Hermann Rupf, yet the holdings of his gallery were impounded as enemy property and later dispersed through four auctions which took place from 1921 to 1923. In 1920, he opened a new gallery that took the name of Kahnweiler’s partner André Simon, at 29 rue d’Astorg, in Paris. With this gallery he continued to support the gallery’s historical artists, leaving Picasso aside (as this latter was now working with Paul Rosenberg), including new artists, such as the sculptor Henri Laurens and the Catalans Manolo Hugué and Josep Togores; Kahnweiler would also show interest in and promote new talents, such as André Masson, Élie Lascaux and André Beaudin.

When the Second World War broke out, Kahnweiler, who was Jewish, was clearly endangered. The conflict led to the closure of this second gallery, which would arise out of its own ashes in 1957, taking the name of Louise Leiris, Kahnweiler’s step-daughter, who was married to Michel Leiris. After the death of Kahnweiler in 1979 and of Louise Leiris in 1988, the gallery at 8 rue Monceau continued with Kahnweiler’s activity, focusing specifically on memorable exhibitions dedicated to Picasso.

  • The Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler exhibition

    The Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler exhibition, curated by Brigitte Leal, seeks to show the personality and activity of this exceptional “man of the arts” in all his facets: dealer, publisher and writer. The chronological and thematic narrative is detailed by means of works by artists in Kahnweiler’s galleries, but will also focus on the most relevant aspects in their founder’s tormented existence: the impact of the two wars, his relationship with Germany, the importance of the entirely of his writings, the evolution of his exhibitions, the specific place held down by Picasso, and the role of this uniquely reserved man.

    Furthermore, the project will also focus on the relationship between Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler and Catalonia, through two artists he supported—the sculptor Manolo Hugué and the painter Josep de Togores—, but especially through his close relationship with Barcelona’s Sala Gaspar, without which it would not have been possible for the Barcelona and Catalonian public to admire Picasso’s work in Spanish territory during the dictatorship. The long queues to see the Picasso exhibition in 1960 at Sala Gaspar are fixed in the city’s memory. Finally, this section cannot ignore the role of the German dealer and his gallery, Louise Leiris, in the production of artist’s prints, as well as other publications through Jaume Sabartés in the Barcelona museum. Without his complicity, the Museu Picasso of Barcelona would not have today its magnificent collection of prints.

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