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Early Pioneers of Abstraction Explored in Gallery's Remarkable Collection
Fernand Léger, Smoke, 1912. Photo: Courtesy The Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

BUFFALO, NY.- The work of four modernist masters and early twentieth-century pioneers of abstraction: —Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Fernand Léger, and Sonia Delaunay—are explored in a new exhibition which opened at the The Albright-Knox Art Gallery, on January 21, 2011. The exhibition, organized by Albright-Knox Curator Heather Pesanti and Curatorial Assistant Ilana Chlebowski and drawn from the Gallery’s Collection, features more than seventy objects in a variety of media, including paintings, sculptures, and works on paper, spanning decades of each artist’s career. By following the transitions and shifts of these four masters’ works from one style or movement to the next, viewers have the opportunity to explore the creative development of each of the artists, and forge connections between them.

This exhibition also reveals the parallel histories of four artists: contemporaries who were experimenting, and, as a result, revolutionizing the world of modern art. Greater context and understanding is brought to the works of these four artists as their tangential paths progress and at times even intersect, most notably when Braque and Picasso joined forces to revolutionize the arts with their invention of Cubism. Meanwhile, Delaunay’s bright colors and geometric forms presaged geometric abstraction and Léger’s cylindrical forms interpreted the mechanical age.

Artists in Depth: Picasso, Braque, Léger, Delaunay is the first in a new series of ongoing exhibitions drawn from the Albright-Knox’s Collection focusing on important artists whose works the Gallery has acquired in depth. This and other exhibitions in the “Artists in Depth” series will explore the collecting history of the Albright-Knox, as the Gallery’s past leadership endeavored not only to collect well-known masterworks by these artists but to acquire representative examples from different phases of their careers, offering greater breadth and scope. For example, in this first iteration of “Artists in Depth,” Picasso’s iconic La Toilette, 1906, can be viewed and considered alongside lesser-known but equally important works that show the progression of Cubism, such as Nude Figure, 1909 –10, which epitomizes Picasso’s most fully realized Cubist style, and Harlequin (Project for a Monument), 1935, which continues the theme begun in the artist’s Blue and Rose periods but has the quality of his Cubist style.

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