[Francis Naumann]
The Demoiselles Revisited

The Demoiselles Revisited” will open at Francis M. Naumann Fine Art in New York on November 16, 2007.  Champagne and birthday cake will be served at the opening reception, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, a painting that single-handedly altered the entire course of western art.

            Twenty-five contemporary artists will be participating in the show.  A number of these artists had already investigated the subject of the Demoiselles (Mike Bidlo, Russell Connor, Julien Friedler, Deborah Grant, Nanci Hersh, Alain Jacquet, Dot Paolo and Douglas Vogel), so an earlier work by them will be borrowed for the exhibition.  The majority, however, have created entirely new work for the show (Brice Brown, Billy Copley, Damian Elwes, Robert Forman, Eileen M. Foti, Kathleen Gilje, John Goodyear, Kathy Halbower, Alain Jacquet, Don Joint, Pamela Joseph, Elizabeth Kley, Carlo Maria Mariani, Francesco Masci, Sophie Matisse, Jacques Moitoret and Trevor Winkfield).  Alain Jacquet is the only artist who fits into both categories, for he has used the occasion of this exhibition to complete a painting based on a photograph taken forty years ago (making this event an anniversary for him as well).

            The sheer variety of work submitted to this exhibition is, in itself, a tribute to the revolutionary quality of the Demoiselles, a painting that today resides the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  Some artists in the show chose to direct their efforts to formal aspects of the painting, replicating its general structure within the rubric of their own individual styles, while others seized upon its provocative subject, which depicts five naked prostitutes, two of whom—on the right side of the composition—have faces that resemble African masks.  In almost all cases, no matter how oblique, traces of Picasso’s painting can be found in the interpretations of each artist, which are by no means restrained by the precedent of this painting, but, in contrast, are expansive, taking the artists in directions that are entirely unanticipated and revelatory.

            Jeff Koons’s Split-Rocker (Pink/Orange) of 1999—a sculpture in polychrome aluminum that grafts together in vertical section the half-heads of two rocking horses—is a late entry to the exhibition (and is therefore absent from the catalogue).  Koons has revealed that he made this piece with the Demoiselles in mind.  With this information at our disposal, we note that the pink and orange colors into which the Koons rocker is divided evoke the background division of Picasso’s painting into two colors: red on the left and blue on the right (perhaps references to his earlier rose and blue periods).  Moreover, the division of the head into two sections alludes to Cubist planar fragmentation, and bears a formal resemblance to the geometric divisions of African masks (as of the woman on the lower right in the Demoiselles).

            A fully illustrated catalogue with an introductory text by Beth Gersh-Nešić is available through the gallery ($25 postpaid).  Gersh-Nešić, Director of the New York Arts Exchange, has written extensively on the French critic André Salmon, one of the first to see the Demoiselles in Picasso’s studio at the Bateau Lavoir and to describe the painting in his writings.  In her essay, Gersh-Nešić demonstrates how Picasso’s painting has been interpreted by various critics and art historians in light of their own personal interests and agendas, inevitably by-products of the times in which they lived.  This interpretation serves as the ideal springboard through which to examine the works included in this show, for they, too, are not only aesthetic emanations of the artists who made them, but also reflections on the current state of contemporary art and of the complicated world and times in which we live.

Installation shots of the exhibition, a pdf-file of the catalogue, as well as high-resolution digital images of specific paintings can be sent to members of the press upon request (contact Dana@francisnaumann.com).

 

Mike Bidlo
Study for Une des Moiselles d’Avignon de Picasso, 1983
Ink on paper, 36 x 24 inches

Brice Brown
Saint Fiacre, 2007
Enamel on aluminum, 12 x 12 inches

Russell Connor
The Kidnapping of Modern Art by the New Yorkers, 1985
Oil on canvas, 32 x 40 inches

Billy Copley
Picasso Bag, 2007
Acrylic and rice paper collage on paper,  24 x 20 inches

Damian Elwes
The Birth of Modern Art, 2007
Mixed media on canvas, 48  x 72 inches

Robert Forman
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon Revisited, 2007
Silk thread on board, 18 x 19 inches

Eileen M. Foti
Les Femmes d'Afrique, 2007
Gouache on paper, 12 x 11 inches

Julien Friedler
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 2005
Fiberglass and enamel paint, 36 x 43 ¼ x 25 ½ inches

Kathleen Gilje
Demoiselles, 2007
Oil on linen,  64 x 39 ½ inches

John Goodyear
Demoiselles at a Card Game, 2007
Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36 inches

Deborah Grant
1:00 am at Sana Y Salva (The Safe and Sound), 2005
Enamel on blackboard, 24 x 18 inches

Kathy Halbower
Untitled, 2007
Pencil and oil on gessoed paper on stretched canvas, 22 ¾ x 24 ¼ inches

Nanci Hersh
Tribute, 2007
Gouache, pastel, and watercolor pencils on paper, 14 ½ x 17 ½ inches

Alain Jacquet
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,1967/07
Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 51 inches

Don Joint
Demoiselles, 2007
Mixed medium, 30 x 30 x 27 inches

Pamela Joseph
Resampling Les Demoiselles, 2007
Oil and archival digital print collage on linen, 37 ½ x 36 inches

Elizabeth Kley
Les Demoiselles de Trockadero 2, 2007
Pencil, ink, gouache & collage on Japanese paper, 24 x 18 inches

Jeff Koons
Split-Rocker (Pink/Orange), 1999
Polychromed aluminum, 13 ½ x 14 ½ x 13 inches
© Jeff Koons

 

Carlo Maria Mariani
Untitled, 2007
Watercolor, pencil, wash and collage on paper, 22 x 22 inches

Francesco Masci
Ladies on the Strawberries, 2007
Oil on linen, 28 ¼ x 28 ¼ inches

Sophie Matisse
De-Moiselles, 2007
Oil on canvas, 47 x 45 inches

Jacques Moitoret
Dawn of the Rothko Sky, 2007
Oil on canvas, 30 x 48 inches

Dot Paolo
Hold it Like This, 2005
Gelatin silver print with handcoloring, 20 x 16 inches

Douglas Vogel
Cradle of Modernism (Position A)
Post-modern Crib (Position 2), 1999
Anonymous oil-painted copy, perforated hardboard, 33 x 59 inches

 

Trevor Winkfield
Demoiselle, 2007
Acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12 inches

Dorothy Morang
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1940
Oil on canvas, 54 x 70 inches