Douglas Cooper’s zeal as a collector and passion as a connoisseur led him to acquire a series of seminal Cubist works and an enviable art collection. The latter included the works of artist friends such as Picasso, Léger, Braque and Juan Gris, who died in 1927 too early for Cooper to meet in person. This exhibition, commissioned by the Kunstmuseum of Basel in 1987, has the merit of bringing together a collection that was scattered among museums and private collections on his death in 1987. Now, three years later, the County Museum and Houston Museum of Fine Arts are putting on show a condensed version until April 21. Their exhibition follows Cubism from its beginnings, with the monumental “Three figures under a tree”, painted by Picasso between 1907 and1908, after the prophetic “Demoiselles”, together with a series of thirty-four paintings, collages, water-colours and drawings executed between 1901 and 1962. The ten Braques include a late work (1952- 55), “Studio VIII”, that exemplifies the painter’s painstaking attitude to his work. At that time, he was attracted by the depths of the sea, intriguing interiors and the flight of birds. “Portrait of the Artist’s mother” painted by Gris in 1912 shows the artist intent on rediscovering his predecessor Cézanne. Léger’s unorthodox interpretation of Cubism, shot through with mystic and futuristic echoes, formed the subject of a memorable exhibition put on by Cooper in Paris in 1982, “Contrastes de formes, 1912-15”. Of all the twenty-eight works exhibited, this is best illustrated by the gouache “Still life on a table” (1914). A moody “Composition” marks the year 1936, when “Le nouveau realisme continue”, a work of theoretical and poetical reflections, was published.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Douglas Cooper’s Cubists'