The Myra and Sandy Kirschenbaum Collection is part of an important tradition among collectors that focuses primarily upon works on paper. This extensive collection comprises every aspect of Picasso as a printmaker and includes many unique works.
Early in 1997, I first met Sanford Kirschenbaum through Michael Hladky, director of the Mezzanine Gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That encounter turned into a lasting friendship as we continued to meet and discuss Picasso and his printmaking. During weekly visits with Sandy and his wife Myra, they consistently tested my expertise on the aesthetic and technical aspects of Picasso’s work. Sandy’s curiosity and knowledge of print techniques always made our discussions lively. Our debates were punctuated by explanations and observations on many different pieces.
Over time, they came to a complete appreciation of Picasso’s creative process and the inventive subtlety of his work. Throughout his life, Picasso was involved with printmaking and with learning new techniques from master printers. Picasso’s work reflects his intimate relationship with printers who could guide him in the nuances of each method: Roger Lacourière for intaglio prints, Mourlot for lithographs, Arnéra for linoleum cuts, and so on. At first, Sandy and Myra were drawn to the linoleum cuts which coincided with Picasso’s period in the South of France. In this medium, Picasso would produce most of the color prints he ever engraved, as well as black and white images. As time went on, Sandy and Myra began to explore other periods and techniques in Picasso’s printmaking.
They became aware of the differences between specific beautiful impressions or proofs from mediocre ones found on the open market. Because Picasso was very finicky about choosing the first and best impressions to keep for his own collection, most of the best prints were part of the vast holdings of Picasso’s granddaughter Marina Picasso, which have been handled by Jan Krugier as the exclusive representative. Through Jan Krugier, Sandy and Myra obtained many of the best examples of Picasso’s prints.
One of the reasons this collection is so significant is that through these impressions the smallest details engraved by the artist are visible. I would like to warmly thank the Kirshenbaums for suggesting my text as the catalog to this exhibition and for lending so many unusual and beautiful works—many of which are not well known or are unique impressions. The exhibition displays Picasso’s prints from state to state in the order of their creation, and organizes them chronologically to cover every period in the artist’s life. Through the succession of states, we can see the mind of the artist; it is like reading an open book. Picasso prints in the way that a writer writes: he reveals his stories to us, chapter by chapter.