Hauser & Wirth’s Alpine Picasso show

Picasso hits the Swiss slopes in an art exhibition of ceramics, paintings and photography at Gstaad’s Vieux Chalet

Picasso with two of his bird ceramics, photographed by David Douglas Duncan at Villa La Californie, Cannes, in 1957
Picasso with two of his bird ceramics, photographed by David Douglas Duncan at Villa La Californie, Cannes, in 1957 | Image: © David Douglas Duncan. © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2019. Courtesy the estate of David Douglas Duncan

Being Swiss, Iwan and Manuela Wirth and Ursula Hauser are quite aware that many art collectors spend the height of winter in the Alps. Hot on the heels of the stunning Picasso and Paper exhibition at the Royal Academy in London, their gallery has put together a show of Picasso editions, ceramics and photographs at the Vieux Chalet in Gstaad that runs until 28 February. 

Femme au chapeau (Buste) by Picasso (1961)
Femme au chapeau (Buste) by Picasso (1961) | Image: © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2019. Courtesy Succession Picasso
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The central focus is the work of photographer David Douglas Duncan. Best known as a photojournalist and war photographer, Duncan published 25 books of his work during his lifetime – including eight devoted to Picasso, whom he first met in Cannes in 1956. Famously, the American photographer knocked on the door of Picasso’s home, Villa La Californie, was led upstairs by the artist’s then-wife Jacqueline and photographed him in the bath. He documented the icon over 17 years, capturing his interests as much as his life. 

Picasso with his bull ceramic, photographed by David Douglas Duncan, 1957
Picasso with his bull ceramic, photographed by David Douglas Duncan, 1957 | Image: © David Douglas Duncan © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2019. Courtesy the estate of David Douglas Duncan
Picasso – wearing actor Gary Cooper’s cowboy hat – play-fighting with his son Claude, 1957
Picasso – wearing actor Gary Cooper’s cowboy hat – play-fighting with his son Claude, 1957 | Image: © David Douglas Duncan © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2019. Courtesy the estate of David Douglas Duncan

Many of these photos (prices start from about £15,000) document the artist at work. We watch him in the intimacy of his studio, experimenting with media and style. It is a rare and unique insight into how he created ceramics and paintings. The fluidity and energy of his gestures are palpable. Other vintage black-and-white photographs capture the humour of the artist – drawing with his son, dressing up as a clown and play-fighting. 

Picasso working on an owl ceramic, 1957
Picasso working on an owl ceramic, 1957 | Image: © David Douglas Duncan © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2019. Courtesy the estate of David Douglas Duncan
Femme au foulard by Picasso (1956)
Femme au foulard by Picasso (1956) | Image: © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2019. Courtesy Succession Picasso

To contextualise these monochrome images, there is also a small number of Picasso works on show. These include two paintings from the early 1960s – Femme au chignon et au chapeau jaune (1962) and Femme assise tenant un petit chat (1964). These long-necked female portraits are most likely of his wife and are typical of his later style. There are also some of his bullfighting prints and ceramics depicting birds and owls. The result is a show that forms an interesting portrait of an artist – and will provide a refreshing change for those heading out into the snow (or the mourning the lack of it).

Owl floor tile by Picasso (1956)
Owl floor tile by Picasso (1956) | Image: © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2019. Courtesy Succession Picasso
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