Many people have heard about Van Gogh’s relationship with the people who bought and sold his works, the chief of whom was his brother Théo. But not much is written about others.Marc Restellini, director of the upstart museum Pinacothèque de Paris, has now seen to that.
Restellini’s new show - in the building kitty-corner to his other location, where Les masques de jade Mayas (see blog, Feb 19, 2012) is still showing until June 10th - is called La Collection Jonas Netter. It covers the adventure of Montparnasse, which started where the adventure of Montmartre left off. This was the period just after the Impressionists had become famous... and expensive. Which is why Jonas Netter sought out unknowns. In 1916, he fell under the spell of Modigliani, then Soutine and Utrillo.
Rue Muller à Montmartre
Why elusive? Because only one photo of Netter has been found. There’s a portrait by Moïse Kisling that is said to be him - and it does bear a striking resemblance - but the canvas is just called Portrait d’homme. And Netter only ever gave one interview.
He preferred to let the spotlight shine on his far more effervescent - and some would say unscrupulous - partner, Léopold Zborowski, or Zbo as he was called. And yet it was Netter who discovered the genius of Modigliani and Soutine... and probably Utrillo as well. Panels spaced throughout the exhibit literally gossip about Netter’s and Zbo’s relationship - to the artists and to each other.
Overall Netter had the better eye for talent. Zborowski often had to be convinced.
Portrait de Maria Lani
In that same interview, Restellini underlined Netter’s importance. "He bought the first of Modigliani’s canvases in 1915 and, from that moment on, he was passionate about his works, to the point of collecting up to forty-two, which is about 15% of the painter’s production (...) A true buyer’s frenzy, in a man of total discretion." Netter bought hundreds of canvases of his favorite artists, snapping them up almost compulsively. "But he didn’t want people to mention him. No matter. Zborowski made up for that in spades."
Portrait de Zborowski
A large part of the canvases that hang in this exhibit come from private collections and have never been seen in public before. Visitors progress from Utrillo, his mother Suzanne Valadon and Modigliani to Soutine and then on to smaller groups of works by André Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck, Isaac Antcher, Pinchus Krémègne, Eugène Ebichre and Henri Hayden. One sees the slow shift from Impressionistic influences - one canvas almost pointillist - to hints of Cubism and beyond.
All these works are assembled for the first time ever and will disappear back into their various homes and museums after September 9th. So strap on your skates and get over to the Pinacothèque.
And if you go before June 10th, you can hop across the street and see the jade masks of the Mayas as well. So double your pleasure.
Autoportrait au rideau
Until Sept. 9, 2012
Pinacothèque de Paris
8 rue Vignon
75008 - Paris
Wed. & Fri until 9 pm
Wheelchairs available upon request