World-Class Collection of French Modern Art Featuring Matisse and Picasso to be Reassembled at U.Va. Art Museum

January 05, 2009

January 5, 2009 — "Matisse, Picasso, and Modern Art in Paris: The T. Catesby Jones Collections at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the University of Virginia Art Museum" will open Jan. 30 at the U.Va. Art Museum.

The exhibition, which runs through April 24, reunites works of art that were given in 1947 as bequests to U.Va. and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. 

The selection of 88 works from the Jones collections at VMFA and the U.Va. Art Museum includes masterpieces of modern French art from 1904 through 1946. The exhibition encompasses many of the key artists, innovative styles and central themes that emerged and developed during a crucial period in the history of modern art.

Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, Georges Braque, Raoul Dufy, Juan Gris, Jacques Lipchitz, Andre� Masson and Georges Rouault are among the artists represented.

"The exhibition has great scope and depth," said Matthew Affron, curator of modern art at the U.Va. Art Museum and co-curator of the exhibition. "It begins with the flowering of new modernist movements before and during World War I, with highlights in the work of Matisse and in cubism. Next are presented the diversity of major interwar art currents, with a strong suit in surrealism. The show concludes with the tragic and transformative World War II period, when many of the best-known French modernists fled Paris for New York.

"Jones was personally acquainted with several of these emigre� artists, including Masson and Lipchitz, and he continued to collect their newest work until the time of his death in 1946."

Jones (1880–1946) came from a family with a long and distinguished history in Virginia's Tidewater region. He graduated from the U.Va. School of Law in 1902 and had a prominent career in New York as an admiralty lawyer.

His greatest passion was modern French art. He collected the work of his favorite artists in depth and across media: not only paintings and sculpture, but also drawings, prints, artists' books and textiles.

In 1947, the paintings, sculptures and some works on paper went to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, of which Jones was a trustee. In the same year, his very significant holdings in prints and illustrated books went to the University; a major portion of that gift was transferred to the U.Va. Art Museum in 1975.

"Matisse, Picasso, and Modern Art in Paris" is the first comprehensive assessment of Jones' legacy as a collector. The exhibition is co-organized by the two Virginia institutions that Jones favored in his bequests and represents a major research and curatorial collaboration between those institutions.

Co-curator John B. Ravenal, Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, said, "The exhibition and catalogue demonstrate the mutual benefits of collaboration. Both institutions gained enormously from the partnership, which brought fresh scholarly perspective to a treasure trove of important art."

Catalog

"Matisse, Picasso, and Modern Art in Paris" is accompanied by a comprehensive, fully-illustrated 150-page catalog. It contains essays by the co-curators, Matthew Affron, curator of modern art, U.Va. Art Museum; and John B. Ravenal, Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, VMFA; and scholarly entries on 24 artists in the exhibition by current and former U.Va. graduate students. 

Credits

The exhibition "Matisse, Picasso, and Modern Art in Paris" is organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, and the University of Virginia Art Museum, Charlottesville. The exhibition is sponsored at the University of Virginia by the U.Va. Art Museum Volunteer Board; the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust, the Carl H. and Martha S. Lindner Center for Art History, the Enhancement Fund of the Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts, and Arts$. The exhibition is also generously supported by a grant from Altria for VMFA traveling exhibitions and the Faberge� Ball Endowment of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Venues

"Matisse, Picasso, and Modern Art in Paris" will be presented at four venues in Virginia in 2009-10: the U.Va. Art Museum (Jan. 30-April 24); Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester (Aug. 15-Nov. 29); William King Regional Art Center in Abingdon (Dec. 11-Feb. 21, 2010); Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond (April-June 2010).

Exhibition Programming at the University of Virginia

Lectures:

• Feb. 12, 6 p.m., Campbell Hall, Room 160
Malcolm Gee, professor of art history, Northumbria University, UK
Gee will discuss the history of modern art collecting in Paris during the first half of the 20th century.
 
• March 17, 6 p.m. Campbell Hall, Room 160
Kenneth E. Silver, professor of art history, New York University
Silver will discuss the reinvention of classicism in French art between the two World Wars.

Lunchtime talks:

• March 10, noon. University of Virginia Art Museum
Matthew Affron, curator of modern art at the U.Va. Art Museum and co-curator of the exhibition 

• April 14, noon 
University of Virginia Art Museum
Emily Smith, curatorial fellow in modern and contemporary art, VMFA, and member of the curatorial team for "Matisse, Picasso, and Modern Art in Paris"

— By Jane Ford