Tate Liverpool
11 December 2004 – 2 May 2005

This display celebrates Gustav and Elly Kahnweiler’s gift to Tate of works of art by important modern international artists including Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Fernand Léger, Juan Gris and André Masson. Although having already been seen in part at Tate Modern this year, the display has been expanded for Tate Liverpool.

Gustav Kahnweiler was the brother of the Paris-based art dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, a key figure in twentieth-century art who represented many of the cubist artists. Gustav, who would refer to himself, self-deprecatingly, as ‘le petit Kahnweiler’, became a junior partner of the German art dealer Alfred Flechtheim in the early part of 1922 as a director of the Galerie Flechtheim in Frankfurt. Gustav and his wife Elisabeth, known as Elly, acquired their first works in this period, purchasing several paintings by Gris, including Bottle of Rum and Newspaper, 1913-14, and Overlooking the Bay, 1921, and Masson’s Pedestal Table in the Studio, 1922. In the 1930s the Kahnweilers moved to England from Germany in order to escape Nazi persecution and later said that their decision to donate their art collection to Tate was motivated by a desire to show their ‘gratitude and loyalty’ to their adopted country.

Fifty-five works from Gustav and Elly’s collection entered the Tate Collection in 1994, and last year a sum of money from their bequest was used to purchase an important late painting by Braque, The Billiard Table, 1945. This recent acquisition, which was also supported by the NACF, Tate Members and the Dr VJ Daniel Bequest, complies with the Kahnweilers’ wishes that the money should be used to acquire a work by one of seven named artists (Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Fernand Léger, Juan Gris, Paul Klee, Joan Miró and Henry Moore). Painted in a style that reflects Braque’s interpretation of cubism, this work may be seen as a fitting tribute to Gustav and Elly and their love of art that sprang from this influential movement, so closely associated with their family name.

As well as the recently-acquired The Billiard Table, highlights of Cubism and its Legacy include Picasso’s magisterial painting The Studio, 1955, and a number of outstanding Picasso prints.

This display is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue edited by Jennifer Mundy with contributions by Giorgia Bottinelli and Sean Rainbird.

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