Letter signed by Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (1963)
Letter signed by Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (1963)
The dealer who first bet on Cubism and Picasso, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, writes for a famous German gallery owner.
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. Single piece.
Dear Mr. stangel,
yes unfortunately we got to 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 is, we cannot lend you the new heliogravures in such a short time, because all the collections have been promised for months. Contact Hertz who will be able to give you the sheets, thank you. Otherwise, you'd have to agree to a date next season.
Sincerely, also from my friend Jardot.
Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (1884 - 1979) was a renowned dealer for being the first to bet on Cubism, with painters such as Picasso and other great names in the early 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 should be remembered that Kahnweiler was self-taught by nature, he did not follow aesthetic standards, he depended on his instinct. His taste, his profession, he learned by going to the Louvre museum, frequenting 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 dealer of his generation. (...) Kahnweiler was also a man with a certain force of conviction, who made choices and maintained 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 before. He paid each one an amount each month, to give them the means to live their art. They busied themselves with 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 that I mean he thought about 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 the paintings and to 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 is he still a role model for young dealers?
PA Paul Durand-Ruel, he didn't know him, but he considered him an absolute model. He really admired him. Not only because he was the dealer of the Impressionists 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 reproduce what his master had done. He wanted to be a forerunner, buying what he likes 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 settled. He was interested in Picasso shortly before he was, and Kahnweiler respected his tastes. But the two men were very different, almost opposites. Ambroise Vollard liked to enjoy life, he took everything as a joke. Kahnweiler was very Germanic, quite austere and extremely meticulous. In other words, Kahnweiler liked Vollard but didn't admire him.
Indeed, its true master was Paul Durand-Ruel. It was he who laid the foundations of art dealership in the modern sense of the term, which Kahnweiler adapted and reinvented in the early 20th century. For me, Kahnweiler is the model of the modern art dealer, or rather, of 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 avant-garde galleries after World War II; 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 celebrities themselves... in the end who would Picasso, Vlaminck or Derain, Gris or Leger be without Kahnweiler? This letter shows a little of 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 gallery owners (Etta and Otto Stangl) in 1963, the year of his death by George Braque. We also like Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler's custom paper here, with the fancy letterhead from his famous gallery.