Staring Back:
The Creation and Legacy of Picasso's Demoiselles d'Avignon

February 3 - June 21, 2015
East Gallery

Picasso's major 1907 painting, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, created an uproar in the Paris art world and laid the foundation for the development of Cubism. This spring, the Fleming Museum presents an exhibition that explores Picasso's extraordinary process in creating the painting, through innovative installations and advanced technologies that transform the museum experience. The painting's ongoing legacy is examined through the work of a diverse group of American, African, and European contemporary artists. While Demoiselles does not travel from its home in the Museum of Modern Art, it will be represented at the Fleming in an unprecedented manner.

Visitors will be introduced to the painting in an environment that evokes Picasso's studio at the "Bateau Lavoir," where he first showed Demoiselles to his close friends and colleagues in 1907; their reactions may be heard against a background of ambient sounds that would have echoed through the streets of Montmartre at the time. Augmented reality will enable visitors to view images of Picasso's studies for the individual figures and the full composition in the context of the painting, and to understand its evolution.

Picasso found inspiration for Demoiselles in art history and contemporary visual culture. Through a variety of new visual technologies, visitors will understand how he synthesized and transformed these diverse sources - from Iberian, African, Oceanic, and Egyptian art to Baroque painting, Cezanne's and Gauguin's work, and colonial photographers' images of African women - to launch a radically new artistic vocabulary.

The largest section of the exhibition highlights the continuing pull of the painting - over 100 years after its creation - as evidenced in the work of international artists, including Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou, Gerri Davis, Damian Elwes, Julian Friedler, Kathleen Gilje, Carlo Maria Mariani, Sophie Matisse, Stas Orlovski, and Jackson Tupper.

Staring Back was conceived and curated by Janie Cohen, Director of the Fleming Museum of Art. The exhibition is informed by the work of numerous Picasso scholars, including Cohen, who has published on Picasso for over thirty years and whose new research on anthropometric-style colonial African photography and Demoiselles will be published in the journal Photography and Culture in March, 2015. Cohen's project collaborators are Coberlin Brownell '95, Assistant Professor, Emergent Media Program at Champlain College, Burlington, Vermont; and Jenn Karson '93, Sound Artist; Adjunct Lecturer, UVM College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences; and Founder, Vermont Makers, Burlington, Vermont.

Generous support for this exhibition has been provided by the Kalkin Family Exhibitions Endowment Fund; the Walter Cerf Exhibitions Fund; Rolf Kielman and Stephanie Spencer; TruexCullins Architecture and Interior Design; Kimberley Adams, M.D., and Mark Depman, M.D.; Brianne Chase '62; Neil and Ursula Owre Masterson '89; the Offices of the President and the Provost at the University of Vermont; and the Fleming Contemporary Art Fund.



AUDIO FILE:Click on the audio file below to hear the audio collage created by Jenn Karson, titled Place Ravignan. The piece depicts the physical environment that birthed Cubism and served as home to several luminaries of the Modernist art and literature movements. It crafts a soundscape that evokes the surroundings of Le Bateau-Lavoir, Picasso's studio in 1907, where Demoiselles d'Avignon was painted.