From MOMA collection - Les Demoiselles d'Avignon by Pablo Picasso (1881–1973)
The releases revealed (amongst other things):
The 603 pieces came from Europe’s African colonial powers – England, Germany, Belgium and France – and from some American collectors.
The list of collectors who loan work included:
The Artist Henri Mattisi (Picasso's life long friend)
The Art Dealer D H Kahnweiller (as well as his dealer, he championed Picasso)The Museum Musee d’ Ethnographie , Paris (Picasso visited here in 1907)
All very closely associated with Picasso – and yet Picasso denied ever having been influenced by African Art!
From V& A Collection: Polychrome mask, Ivory Coast, Walker Evans, 1903 - 1975
I recall visiting the Picasso Museum in Barcelona which had a display dedicated to his figurative design development of the mask shapes found in his seminal 1907 work Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. According to the drawings this development was based solely on the leaf as inspiration shape for the face – nothing to do with African Religious Masks.......
An alternative source for the masks in Picasso’s work is given by Ingo Walther in his Picasso Monogram for Taschen. In which he argues Picasso discovered the figurative design for himself , by himself. Walther uses a 1907 sketchbook as proof.
I am not persuaded, I believe Picasso was principally inspired by the African religious masks he saw at the Ethnographic Museum in Paris which he visited in 1907.
Meanwhile the research and preparation continues.