Published: May 13, 2016
WATERVILLE, MAINE — The Colby College Museum of Art announces the major acquisition of a deluxe set of Pablo Picasso’s “Vollard Suite,” the 1939 series of 100 etchings that is considered the artist’s most significant cycle of prints and a hallmark of Twentieth Century modernist printmaking.
The landmark acquisition was made possible by the generosity of Peter and Paula Lunder, philanthropists and longtime Colby College benefactors, who also gifted their renowned collection of American art to the museum in 2013.
“This is a truly remarkable gift that will be a delight to visitors and create a tremendous set of experiences for the generations of students who will learn from studying this phenomenal series of etchings,” said Colby President David A. Greene. “We are so grateful to the Lunders, whose generosity and unmatched dedication have made the Museum a destination for people from around the world and a defining asset of Colby College.”
Exploring themes of mythology, identity, creativity and sexuality, the “Vollard Suite” is etched in a neoclassical style that Picasso adapted from his studies of classical sculpture and traces his artistic development during a critical period in his career. Colby’s suite is one of 50 deluxe sets that was printed on extra-large Montval laid paper in 1939 and is believed to be one of only eight deluxe sets that Picasso signed in full. In pristine condition and never before publicly exhibited, Colby’s version is the only completely signed deluxe set held by a college art museum and one of a handful currently held by a US museum.
A large selection of prints from the suite will be on view at the museum June 2–August 21 and the full series will be on view here in the spring and summer of 2018. The “Vollard Suite” will be incorporated into many Colby College classes starting this fall and a future online project will offer an in-depth, interactive exploration of the work.
The Lunders have helped to transform the Colby College Museum of Art in many meaningful ways, including support of museum expansions with the addition of the Lunder Wing in 1999. Their 2013 gift of the Lunder Collection, featuring more than 500 works by American masters and considered one of the most important private collections of its kind, is among the largest donations of artwork ever made to an American college. The Lunders continue to be generous to the museum, with recent gifts of work by Al Held, Maya Lin, Julie Mehretu, Kenneth Noland, and Pat Steir, among others.
Picasso began the “Vollard Suite” in 1930 and completed it in 1937. He dated each print, but deliberately left them untitled and never intended for them to be organized around a specific narrative. However, certain pictorial themes emerge in the suite that scholars have traditionally grouped as “Battle of Love,” “The Sculptor’s Studio,” “Rembrandt,” “The Minotaur,” and “Portraits of Vollard.”
The Colby College Museum of Art is at 5600 Mayflower Hill. For more information, www.colby.edu or 207-859-5600.
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