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.
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, “...it 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
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.