The relationship between the great art dealer and the even greater 20th century artist has never been explored in detail in an exhibition.
Ambroise Vollard was the art dealer for Renoir and Cezanne, Gauguin and Matisse, the greatest personality in the modern art market of Paris in the years following the First World War.
He met Picasso in 1901, when the young Spaniard was living in poverty in Paris, and was the first art dealer to exhibit the paintings from the Blue Period in his gallery. But he refused to buy those that had not already found a buyer, even at a low price.
Although Picasso, in later years, reprimanded him for having exploited him and sold his paintings for so little, their relationship continued until the death of Vollard in 1939. During this period, Vollard sold numerous works by Picasso, as well as those by several other artists, such as the customs officer Rousseau, and Renoir and Cezanne, some of which Picasso bought from the art dealer.
On many occasions, Picasso worked with Ambroise Vollard, both producing paintings for his gallery, and collaborating on editions for the gallery itself. The most important result of their long relationship was the very famous series of engravings by Picasso. Vollard, who had clearly grasped the Spanish artist's genius in interpreting graphic work, commissioned or had him create these engravings. From the time of the so-called Blue Period, or Picasso's first visit to Paris, Vollard published the best of his engravings, such as the very famous series of "Tumblers", in which the pathos that emerged from the pictures of that period was sublimated into a classical form, which found its highest expression in works like "The frugal meal " 'or "Profile of a woman". A few years later, Vollard asked Picasso to illustrate "Le Chef-d'oeuvre inconnu", Balzac's masterpiece. The artist made some of his finest engravings for this book, making it one of the most important illustrated volumes of the 20th century.
To confirm the symbolic importance that the artist himself attributed to this work, one only has to remember that, after completing the beautiful engravings that illustrate the events described by Balzac in 1831, and whose protagonist is a painter on a mission to create the perfect work of art, Picasso himself moved his studio to 7 rue des Grands Augustins, the same address as that of the painter Frenhofer, in the novel, and the same studio in which "Guernica" was painted many years later. It goes without saying that the person who pointed Picasso toward the studio was Vollard.
After that, the gallery owner inspired Picasso to take on a new project: illustrating the 44 volumes of the great "Histoire naturelle" written at the height of the Enlightenment by the Count of Buffon. With the 32 engravings, Picasso once again challenged art and technique. Using a special kind of aquatint in which sugar had been dissolved, Picasso was able to make use of a very quick procedure that allowed him to work on the engraving with his hands too, as if on a painting.
The culmination of the collaboration between two great men of the 20th century came with the famous series called the "Vollard Suite ". Created between 1931 and 1937, when the Spanish Civil War had already begun, the 100 pages that make up the suite, considered a masterpiece of Picasso's body of work and of modern graphic art, are divided into five themes: the Minotaur, who is stricken by the