On the night of October 2nd, the El Paso Museum of Art held a small reception for the opening of a new exhibition that showcases two works by Pablo Picasso and Paul Cézanne. The exhibition, titled The Birth of Cubism, is to be held in the de Wetter Gallery and is the first of six masterwork exchanges between apartnership with EPMA and the Solomon R. Guggenheim museum in New York City. The reception featured short talks from the likes of the director of EPMA Michael Tomor, Jack Maxon (on behalf of Richard Armstrong, Director of the Guggenheim), Charles de Wetter (Son of Peter and Margeret, the namesake of the gallery), and Teresa Bustamante.
The Modern Masters series is the product of a few years of negotiations between EPMA and the Guggenheim. It is part of an outreach by the Guggenheim foundation to send a portion of their more important pieces to regions whose residents don’t typically have access to such monumental works. The lending of masterworks such as these is rare in the museum world and El Paso is incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to experience an exchange such as this.
The pieces on display are Paul Cézanne’s Still Life: Plate of Peaches (1879-80) and Picasso’s Carafe, Jug, and Fruit Bowl (1909). As the title of the exhibition implies, these pieces showcase the work and expressions of artists around the time that Cubism was popular in France. Cézanne’s piece came decades before Picasso was at the forefront of the movement proper (roughly 1907), but the style, angles, and interpretation of volume do foreshadow the coming movement. The Picasso is a sample of his work just before moving into full on analytical cubism. Here he truly alters perceptions of depth, representing the objects from multiple angles and forming a dynamic view of what is stationary.
The opening of The Birth of Cubism comes as the EPMA has opened two other major installations in the past month. Aleksander Titovets’ Past and Present in the Dede Rodgers Gallery on the ground floor showcases the impressionist landscapes from the local Russian transplant, including a handful of El Paso landmarks. While Renoir to Remington: Impressionism to the American West in the main Hunt Gallery upstairs holds many works showing the effects that Impressionism had on the art of the American West and Southwest. This author’s personal favorites were two pieces by the Fremont F. Ellis, Yuccas and A Passing Storm. The former using the Pointillist style of Paul Signac to paint a desert scene using a color palette more fitting to the Southwest.
The Birth of Cubism runs from October 3rd - February 1st while the Modern Masters Series: Highlights from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum will run through October 4th of 2016. Admission is free and highly encouraged. Here is a link with more info.
As pointed out during the talks of the evening, having a museum like this is the cornerstone of helping a city rejuvenate a downtown area and any money coming in helps EPMA bring incredible exhibits like this to El Paso. A year membership for students is a meager $20 and can do much for the museum as well as for your own understanding of art. Click here to learn more about becoming a member.