“It is a curious fact,” writes Alan Bowness, “that there has never before been a major Cubist exhibition in London.” Mr. Bowness, the director of the Tate Gallery, has lately set out to rectify this astonishing situation by inviting Douglas Cooper and Gary Tinterow to mount a major exhibition. The result is “The Essential Cubism: Braque, Picasso and Their Friends, 1907-1920.”[1] This is in many ways a splendid exhibition and in some ways a peculiar one, but nothing in or about it is quite as peculiar as the “curious fact”—what an understatement!—that it has been so long in coming. Before turning to this interesting, if belated, exhibition, it might therefore be useful to place it in some historical perspective—though this is, admittedly, a little like attempting to trace the history of a...


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