MoMA Presents Its First Digital-Only Publication, Picasso: The Making of Cubism 1912-1914

PicassoCubism_cover-300x400The Museum of Modern Art announces the launch of Picasso: The Making of Cubism 1912-1914, the Museum’s first digital-only publication and the first monographic e-book to be authorized by the Estate of Pablo Picasso. Edited by Anne Umland, The Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Curator of Painting and Sculpture, MoMA, and Blair Hartzell, independent art historian and curator, it embraces the innovative features and infinite real estate of the digital format in order to present new scholarship on a breakthrough moment in the history of Cubism and twentieth-century art. Scott Gerson, private art conservator and former Associate Conservator, MoMA, served as conservation editor on this cross-disciplinary project, which presents in-depth studies of 15 objects made by Picasso between 1912 and 1914. Contributing scholars include Elizabeth Cowling, Professor Emeritus and Honorary Fellow, History of Art, The University of Edinburgh; Jeremy Melius, Assistant Professor, Department of Art and Art History, Tufts University; and Jeffrey Weiss, Adjunct Professor, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and Senior Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

Catalyzed by the exhibition Picasso: Guitars 1912-1914, presented at MoMA in 2011, Picasso: The Making of Cubism 1912–1914 draws upon the many insights gathered by curators, scholars, and conservators during first-hand examination of paintings, sculptures, and works on paper in the Museum’s galleries and conservation labs, and in the three intensive years of study since the show. This collaborative scholarly project marshals the technical and archival resources of the Museum to offer fresh, object-focused research on canonical works of art, serving as both an important new reference and a groundbreaking interpretative resource.

“We knew from the earliest phases of preparing for the exhibition that we didn’t want to lose the information gleaned during the months when scholars and conservators would have the rare opportunity to study these works together,” explained Ms. Umland. “Digital publishing now makes it possible for us to share these discoveries in dynamic and unprecedented ways, after the exhibition, after living with a unique constellation of works,” said Ms. Hartzell.

The publication delves into the artist’s complex, cross-medium studio practice in the years between 1912 and 1914 by examining Picasso’s cardboard and sheet metal Guitarconstructions alongside the drawings, papiers collés, mixed-medium paintings, photographs, and assemblages made during this period. Each chapter features an illuminating essay by one of the scholars and is complemented by a wealth of documentation. High-resolution images range from interactive 360° views of constructed sculptures to X-rays and ultraviolet, infrared, and raking-light images taken in the conservation lab. Detailed conservation notes offer key insights into the artist’s materials and processes.

Archival documentation includes newly discovered and previously unpublished photographs of Picasso in his studio, as well as an illustrated provenance, exhibition history, and published references for each object. Rare primary-source images show the works in the homes of early collectors, in historical gallery installations, and in early publications, augmenting the physical history of the object with details of its ownership, display, and reception. Video clips of curators and conservators speaking about the objects, including a 1971 interview with William Rubin, then director of MoMA’s Department of Painting and Sculpture, speaking on the occasion of the Museum’s acquisition of the sheet metal Guitar, further enhance the rich interactive study of these objects.

Picasso: The Making of Cubism 1912–1914 is published under the auspices of the Museum’s Research and Scholarly Publications Program and is the tenth volume in the seriesStudies in Modern Art.

The publication is $24.99. It is available as an iPad app from the App Store and as an interactive and enhanced PDF to be read on laptop or desktop computers using Adobe Reader