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Letter signed by Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (1963)

Letter signed by Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (1963)

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The dealer who first invested in Cubism and Picasso, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, writes to a famous German gallerist.

  • Letter signed by Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler to Mr. Stangl.
  • One page.
  • In German.
  • 19.5 cm x 27.1 cm.
  • Paris, April 9, 1963.
  • Excellent condition.
  • Unique piece.

Dear Mr. Stangel,

yes, unfortunately, we arrived at them at 4 o'clock and missed each other. This morning I found your letter on my return from Dortmund, where I was with Jardot, at the opening of the Manolo exhibition at the museum. As much as it may be, we cannot lend you the new heliogravures in such a short time, because all the collections have been promised for months. Please contact Hertz who will be able to give you the sheets, thank you. Otherwise, you would have to agree to a date next season.

Kind regards, also from my friend Jardot.

Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler

Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (1884 - 1979) was a very renowned dealer for having been the first to invest in Cubism, with painters such as Picasso and other big names at the beginning of the 20th century. Here we reproduce parts of an interview conducted in French by journalist Charlotte Delafond, with Kahnweiler's biographer, Pierre Assouline.

CD What do you think are the essential characteristics that make Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler a key figure in the history of modern art?

PA First of all, it must be remembered that Kahnweiler was self-taught by nature, he did not follow aesthetic standards, he depended on his instinct. He learned his taste, his profession, by going to the Louvre museum, attending the Salons, especially the Independent ones, at public sales and according to his readings, enriched by foreign art magazines. Furthermore, and this is very important, he was the same age as his painters - Picasso, Braque, Gris, Léger - with whom he maintained a true complicity. He was truly the art dealer of his generation. (...) Kahnweiler was also a man with a certain strength of conviction, who made choices and stuck to them at any cost, even in times of crisis. When he believed in the Demoiselles d'Avignon, no one else believed in it, he didn't change his mind in the face of criticism.

For his painters, he was willing to do anything, but what he asked for was exclusivity. So he was uncompromising. That's what made it special. He put them under contract, which had never been done. He paid each person a monthly fee to give them the means to live their art. They were busy painting; the sale, the collectors, the salons and the rest were his. That was revolutionary!

The last thing is that Kahnweiler was a patient man. By this I mean that he thought everything in the long term, he worked for posterity. In this sense, he invested heavily in advertising and was one of the first - if not the first - to systematically photograph paintings and send these photographic reproductions to art magazines throughout Europe, in Germany, of course, but also in Switzerland, Belgium and in England. This was one of his main strategies and one of the reasons that made his painters famous.

CD What did Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler owe to famous former dealers, including Paul Durand-Ruel and Ambroise Vollard? And to what extent does he remain a model for young dealers?

PA Paul Durand-Ruel, he didn't know him, but he considered him an absolute role model. He really admired him. Not only because he was the Impressionists' dealer who supported them against everything, but also because of the line of conduct he imposed on himself. He respected the principles on which Durand-Ruel reinvented his profession, his moral attitude towards the market, artists and the public. Kahnweiler secretly wanted to replicate what his master had done. He wanted to be a pioneer, buying what he liked and imposing his taste on the public.

Ambroise Vollard was not the same story. He was a contemporary. He was a little older, but they often met, the Vollard gallery is not far from the one where he was based. He was interested in Picasso shortly before him, and Kahnweiler respected his tastes. But the two men were very different, almost opposites. Ambroise Vollard liked to enjoy life, she took everything as a joke. Kahnweiler was very Germanic, quite austere and extremely meticulous. In other words, Kahnweiler liked Vollard but did not admire him.

Indeed, his true master was Paul Durand-Ruel. It was he who laid the foundations of the art dealer in the modern sense of the term, which Kahnweiler adapted and reinvented at the beginning of the 20th century. For me, Kahnweiler is the model of the modern art dealer, or rather, what a dealer should be in the 20th century. Today, of course, things have changed, the profession has evolved and conditions are no longer the same. But the principles he presented are still valid.

Otto Stangl was a German art dealer and gallerist, who with his wife Etta founded the Etta and Otto Stangl Modern Gallery in Munich in 1947, one of the most influential galleries of the avant-garde after the Second World War; Manolo Hugué, a friend of the Spanish painter Picasso, was a renowned sculptor; Finally, Maurice Jardot was Kahnweiler's right-hand man and presided over the Kahnweiler / Leiris Gallery for almost 40 years (1956 - 1996).

Sometimes the people behind the scenes are as important and interesting as the famous people... in the end, who would Picasso, Vlaminck or Derain, Gris or Leger be without Kahnweiler? This letter shows a little about the daily life of this great art dealer, mentioning his work with his partner (Maurice Jardot), meetings with artists and exhibitions (Manolo Hugué) and relationships with other gallerists (Etta and Otto Stangl) in 1963, the year of his death by George Braque. We also like the personalized paper by Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler here, with the sophisticated header from his famous gallery.

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