Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
CUBISME: PROPERTY FROM THE MELAMED FAMILY COLLECTION Hope and Abraham Melamed Soon after their marriage in 1944, our parents, Hope and Abe Melamed, embarked on a journey of passion that enveloped them for the rest of their lives. After an afternoon art gallery visit, our Dad, a young radiologist, suggested to our mother that they buy a painting they had admired. Mom tells how shocked she was at the realization that “regular” people could do just that. They could hang a wonderful piece of art in their house rather than have to visit it in a museum. Certainly, others could come and see it but she could actually live with it, gaze upon it every day, and see it anew each morning. Their interests and collection evolved through several stages but finally focused on Cubism and especially on the early explorations of Picasso and Braque. It then expanded to include all of the major Cubists with a particular focus on the cubist print. In fact, when a 1982 exhibition entitled, “The Cubist Print” was being assembled to appear in The National Gallery in Washington, D.C., the curators wrote that after exploring all the leading museums, “ soon became clear that the largest, most comprehensive collection of Cubist Prints was not in the public domain but in the knowledgeable private hands of Dr. and Mrs. Abraham Melamed.” The collection grew to include a variety of Cubist pieces by Picasso, Braque, Léger, Gris, Villon, Marcoussis, Gleizes, Metzinger and others that they considered to be seminal to the development of the genre. The prints as well as Picasso’s dimensionally innovative collage Figure, Picasso’s Tête de femme, and Severini’s Etude pour "Autoportrait au canotier" and many other works have been exhibited in major museums worldwide. They have been highlighted in books and magazines as well; all a testament to Hope and Abe’s belief that they should be shared with the public. It was their shared passion. They studied, read voraciously, and travelled extensively with art as the central focus. They learned all that they could consume. It was an intellectual journey into modern art’s evolution. In our parents’ own words, “...we became vitally interested in the modern movements in art, enjoying them all but recognizing that all new movements are not innovative. We found ourselves drawn more and more to Cubism, perhaps the greatest development in art since the Renaissance. Picasso and Braque, influenced by Cézanne, struggled with the possibility of portraying or placing on the two-dimensional surface of the canvas the total and simultaneous representation of solid three-dimensional bodies. It can be argued that Cubism is an attempt to present reality with honesty: that when an object is observed, the observer is aware of volume although the eye sees only that part that is presented frontally. Cubism is the mechanism artists use to present what is seen by the eye and the mind simultaneously.” And after years of reflection on their love affair with Cubism, they conclude, “Cubism is not easy to view. It can be dull for the uninitiated. It is highly structured with no softening or sentimentalizing images. Cubist graphics in fact contain no color to dilute their sparseness and classicism. Despite this lack of immediate appeal, the study of Cubism is essential because it is the basis or catalytic force for all art forms that follow.” And with all this said, in later years, after our Dad had passed away, Hope, now one of the world’s most knowledgeable and smitten admirers of the Cubist movement, would often spend hours on end simply sitting on a sofa in our living room gazing from piece to piece in utter amazement and pure joy. To say it was a labor of love is an understatement. We have always felt that they both squeezed every possible ounce of enjoyment out of each and every piece in their collection. But to us, Hope and Abe’s children, the love and study of art, is not what defines them. What defines them to us is that they have been wonderful people and the most loving and loved parents we could ever hope for. And we know they would be so proud and gratified that others will cherish, appreciate and love the work as much as they did. Abby, Aggy and John Melamed CUBISME: PROPERTY FROM THE MELAMED FAMILY COLLECTION
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)


Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
signed 'Picasso' (on the reverse)
paper collage, pen and black ink and pencil on paper
16 7/8 x 11¼ in. (42.9 x 28.5 cm.)
Executed in Céret, spring 1913
Galerie Kahnweiler, Paris (by 1920).
Helena Rubinstein, New York (by 1962); Estate sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York, 20 April 1966, lot 50.
Richard Feigen Gallery, Inc., New York (acquired at the above sale).
Acquired from the above by the present owners, 25 April 1966.
M. Raynal, Picasso, Paris, 1922 (illustrated, pl. XXIV; titled Nu and dated 1914).
C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Paris, 1942, vol. 2**, no. 410 (illustrated, pl. 192; dated winter 1912-1913).
F. Russoli, L'opera complete di Picasso cubista, Milan, 1972, no. 572 (illustrated).
P. Daix and J. Rosselet, Picasso, The Cubist Years: A Catalogue Raisonné, 1907-1916, London, 1979, p. 301, no. 584 (illustrated).
J. Palau i Fabre, Picasso: Cubism, 1907-1917, New York, 1990, p. 512, no. 900 (illustrated, p. 319).
New York, Saidenberg Gallery, Picasso, An American Tribute: Cubism, April-May 1962, no. 9 (illustrated).
Milwaukee Art Center, Picasso in Milwaukee, October-November 1971, no. 1 (illustrated; dated winter 1912-1913).
Milwaukee Art Museum, Selections from the Hope and Abraham Melamed Collection, September 1983-January 1984, pp. 5, 10 and 46, no. 38 (illustrated in color on the cover).
New York, PaceWildenstein, Instrument of Invention: Picasso and Drawing, 1907-1938, April-June 1995.

Brought to you by

Brooke Lampley
Brooke Lampley

Lot Essay

Christian Zervos dated this vigorously verticalized papier collé to the winter of 1912-1913, when, in Paris, Picasso had created an important group of works in which he first employed the novel practice of cut and pasted papers in his picture-making (op. cit., 1942). Pierre Daix, however, later ascribed Figure to the spring of 1913, noting that Picasso had actually executed it in Céret (op. cit., 1979, p. 301), during the third and final of his consecutive annual sojourns in that Pyrenean town situated in the French portion of old Catalonia. Daix numbered Figure among those papiers collés in Picasso's "second generation" of this kind (ibid., p. 300), works which were even more inventive and widely inclusive in their source materials than his initial efforts done the year before.
The tell-tale sign for Daix was Picasso's choice of a wallpaper, a "grandiose Baroque brocade," as Elizabeth Cowling described it, a pattern likely of local provenance the artist is known to have used only in Céret ("What the wallpapers say: Picasso's papiers collés of 1912-1914," The Burlington Magazine, vol. CLV, no. 1325, September 2013, p. 599). In the related work La Guitare, Picasso pasted down pieces of the same brocade paper, as well as the front page from the Barcelona newspaper El Diluvio, which bears the date "31 de Marzo de 1913" (Daix, no. 608; Zervos, vol. 2*, no. 348).
The use of this wallpaper and a second with a leafy pattern on a light blue ground–an old-fashioned Madame de Sévigné design–suggests that Picasso has depicted here a figure in an interior. He sketched in the fretted neck of a guitar near the center of the sheet, as he did in Personnage assis dans un fauteuil (Daix, no. 583; Zervos, vol. 2*, no. 340), which Zervos also misdated, but is now known to have been done in Céret, 1913. Guitars, the heads and figures of men as either musicians or harlequins dominated Picasso's production during that spring and summer.
Picasso, with his new girlfriend Eva Gouel, arrived in Céret by 12 March, and took up residence on the first floor of the Maison Delcros, the same quarters he had rented during his previous two stays. He had shared these rooms with Braque during the summer of 1911. The outlines and windows of this cube-like domicile appear in Figure, sandwiched like the fragment of the guitar between the two strips of blue wallpaper. Céret was quickly becoming an artist's colony; Picasso's friends the sculptor Manolo and the American artist Frank Burty Haviland–who in 1911 had suggested to Picasso that he spend his working holiday there–were making the town their home. Herbin and Kisling also stayed in Céret during the summer of 1913, and Juan Gris, who was quickly becoming the "third man of cubism," arrived in July to begin his magnificent run of Céret paintings (sale, Christies, New York, 3 November 2010, lot 23). Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, who acted as dealer for Picasso, Braque and Gris, dubbed Céret the "Mecca of Cubism" (Juan Gris: Life and Work, New York, 1969, p. 16).
It was less than a year previously that Picasso and Braque detonated a pair of bombs under centuries of conventional practices in picture-making. Picasso made the first collage in May 1912 when he glued a piece of oilcloth printed with a chair caning pattern to an oval cubist canvas he had been painting, for its trompe l'oeil effect (Zervos, vol. 2*, no. 294; Musée Picasso, Paris). He did not follow up this idea until Braque made a further giant leap forward during early September in Sorgues, while Picasso was away in Paris for a couple of weeks. Braque took some imitation wood-grain paper he had purchased in a local decorator's supply store, cut from it and pasted down several pieces on a sheet of moderate size, then drew on and around them, producing the first papier collé. Braque recalled at that moment having "felt a great shock, and it was an even greater shock for Picasso when I showed it him" (quoted in W. Rubin, Picasso and Braque: Pioneering Cubism, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1989, p. 40). Picasso–always quick to exploit a signal idea when he saw one, and to equal if not out-do its inventor–quickly followed suit. That fall he photographed a wall in his Paris studio showing two rows of his own drawings with papiers collés pinned up above his bed.
The use of cut and pasted papers had opened up a vast new range of possibilities, and would soon reshape–through the use of actualités (newspaper items) and ordinary found paper materials–the very stuff of content in modern art and the entire underlying conceptual basis for translating subject matter into pictorial form. Picasso took advantage in Céret of this first opportunity to employ the technique outside of Paris, using materials he had not collected in the capital, but locally. The art of creating papiers collés proved indeed to be a most moveable feast.
The use of wallpapers in Figure points to a significant divergence in Picasso's and Braque's choice of readymade papers and their connotative function in the papiers collés of 1912-1914. Braque, who had worked as a housepainter, preferred the commercial patterns currently in use, like the faux bois fragments he had employed in his very first papier collé, just as he had adapted the use of various painter's combs to simulate wood grain in his application of paint on canvas. Picasso, however, took a different approach. He acquired cheap rolls of old papers, used some found by friends, or even removed peeling sections from shabby old rooms. "He sought out papers in distinctive styles that spoke not just of times past in a generalised sense but of particular environments, aspirations and categories of people," Cowling has observed. "Picasso's papers collés can be seen as acts of repositories of the extinct. Rather than celebrate modernity, he seems bent on escaping it, the charming ache of nostalgia offsetting his mocking, iconoclastic humor" (op. cit., 2013, p. 600).
A second development in the Céret papiers collés of 1913 proved as potent for the development of modern art as the introduction of the papers themselves. Picasso began to employ a vocabulary of signs, a kind of personalized but legible pictorial shorthand, to characterize his subjects, such as the configuration of points, curved and straight lines to fabricate the planar head in Figure. The convergence of signs and pasted materials, when adapted and translated into formal elements created purely in paint, set the stage for the new "synthetic" phase in cubism. The modern work of art had unassailably achieved the privileged state in which it was no longer a mere simulacrum of things in the real world, but had become an object in and of itself, existing in the world like anything else, possessing a distinctive factuality and integral reality all its own.
Fig. A
Pablo Picasso, Bouteille et verre, Céret, spring 1913. Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf. BARCODE: 28864141

Fig. B
Pablo Picasso, Guitare, Céret, spring 1913. The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Nelson A. Rockefeller Bequest. BARCODE: 28864103

Fig. C
Pablo Picasso, Personnage assis dans un fauteuil, Céret, spring 1913. Location unknown; Galerie Kahnweiler archive photograph. BARCODE: 28864097

Fig. D
Pablo Picasso, Arlequin, Céret, summer 1913. Gemeentemuseum, The Hague. BARCODE: 28864110

More from Impressionist & Modern Evening Sale

View All
View All