In 1947, Matisse was seventy-eight years old, Picasso sixty-six. That year each released exceptional prints representative of their long careers as innovative and influential giants of twentieth-century art. Four years in the making, Matisse’s Jazz was a book project and print album of twenty pochoirs (handmade stencil prints) based on compositions initially made as cut-out shapes of brightly colored paper. It was the publisher who suggested the title Jazz as a metaphor for Matisse’s improvisational, lyrical working method and the subject matter reminiscent of circus themes.
Picasso’s White Pigeon on Black Background was produced in a spurt of activity over a three-day period, one of many such sessions that fostered unprecedented methods and a wide range of lithographic effects. Picasso was most likely standing right at the press bed and brushing a syrupy acid substance onto the printing stone or plate to achieve the mottled look of the bird’s feet and feathers, further manipulating the surface to get the softer, grayer effect in the animal’s chest and wings.
This exhibition has been organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts. Support has been provided by Comerica Bank. Additional support has been provided by the City of Detroit.