History and progress—two seemingly diametrically opposed concepts. Yet, both are expertly realized in Pablo Picasso’s Boy Leading a Horse, one of the masterpieces featured in The William S. Paley Collection: A Taste for Modernism. In this catalogue, MoMA’s former Director Emeritus of Painting and Sculpture, William Rubin, analyzes in depth how this Rose Period painting marks a point in Picasso’s career when his work was on the brink of ingenuity yet steeped in history at the same time. Throughout his discussion, Rubin not only situates Boy Leading a Horse in the context of the artist’s oeuvre, but also within the spectrum of art history as a whole. He illustrates how Picasso both draws inspiration from his contemporaries and demonstrates his extensive art historical knowledge, even referencing as far back as Ancient Greek sculpture. Further, Rubin examines how the boy in the painting, P’tit Louis, acts as the artist’s surrogate. Therefore, the work can be read as Picasso himself leading his loyal steed into the future, into the age of Cubism.
William S. Paley, founder of CBS Inc., was an enthusiastic collector of modern art and an active supporter of the Museum throughout his life, serving as President, Chairman, and Chairman Emeritus. The William S. Paley Collection: A Taste for Modernism was originally published in 1992 to accompany an exhibition celebrating MoMA’s acquisition of his extraordinary personal art collection. This newly redesigned edition of the book has been released to accompany a tour of the collection throughout the United States and Canada.
The Paley collection includes many other landmark works by modern masters such as Paul Cézanne, André Derain, and Henri Matisse, and all are illustrated in the catalogue, accompanied by an insightful and illuminating commentary written by either Rubin or Mathew Armstrong. The book allows the viewer to feel as well acquainted with the works as Mr. Paley must have been. The intimate connection it affords is appropriate as modernism’s “emphasis on the private, individual experience [marked] not only the art Mr. Paley bought, but the way he lived with it.”
For a sneak peek at more artworks from the Paley collection, download a preview of the catalogue.