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Pierre Daura (Catalán-American, 1896-1976), Self Portrait, circa 1939-45, oil on board, 16 1/8 x 13 inches. Joel and Lila Harnett Print Study Center, University of Richmond Museums, Gift of Martha Randolph Daura, H 2004.47.01. © Martha Randolph Daura.
Sep 28, 2005
throughDec 11, 2005

Pierre Daura, Catalán-American Modernist: People, Places, and Things

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On September 28, 2005, University of Richmond Museums will open Pierre Daura, Catalán-American Modernist: People, Places, and Things. On view simultaneously in the Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art and the Print Study Center, the exhibition presents drawings, watercolors, prints, and oil paintings selected from a major gift to the museums from the artist's daughter, Martha Randolph Daura.  

The more than sixty works on display represent Daura's stylistic development throughout his life and travels in Spain, France, and the countryside of Virginia, with a focus on landscapes, portraits, still lifes, and figure studies.

About the artist
Born on the island of Minorca, Spain, in 1896, Daura was raised in Barcelona, Catalonia (a northern region in Spain) where he studied art under José Ruiz Blasco, Pablo Picasso's father. In 1914, Daura moved to Paris to work in the studio of artist Émile Bernard, cataloging letters between Bernard and Vincent Van Gogh. During the 1920s, he exhibited works in Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Paris, with his first one-person exhibition in 1928. That same year, Daura married Louise Heron Blair of Richmond, Virginia, who was studying art in the French capital.  

In 1929, Daura and close friends Joaquín Torres-García, a Uruguayan painter, and Michael Seuphor, a Belgian artist and writer, formed the Cercle et Carré ("Circle and Square") group for which Daura designed the logo. Members included notable modern artists Jean Arp, Wassily Kandinksky, Piet Mondrian, and architect LeCorbusier. They created abstract art using the purity of the circle and square forms, and these artists are now considered an important part of early twentieth-century art.  

In 1930, Pierre and Louise Daura purchased a thirteenth-century home in Saint Cirq-Lapopie (Lot valley of southern France) where their only daughter, Martha, was born that same year. In 1937, Daura joined the Spanish Republican army during the Spanish Civil War. After recovering from a severe wound, he moved his family to Virginia in 1939. Settling in Rockbridge Baths, he continued to paint and exhibit in Virginia. He served as Chairman of the Art Department at nearby Lynchburg College (1945-1946) and taught at Randolph-Macon College for Women (1946-1953). For the rest of their lives, the Dauras alternated seasons between their homes in Virginia and France.
About the exhibition
The installation of portraits and landscapes in the Harnett Museum of Art provides a biographical context for the artist's work. Portraits of the Daura family exemplify the recurrent theme of mother and child as seen in the ink drawing, Louise and Martha (circa 1935). Daura's travels and deep admiration of nature are depicted in scenes of the medieval town of St. Cirq-Lapopie, including the oil painting, Church and Presbytery (1955-1971), and an assortment of Virginia landscapes primarily in the Blue Ridge region such as the watercolor, Horses and Jump Mountain (1945-1955). Of particular interest is a series of dramatic prints entitled Civilisation (1937-1939), which show the horrors of the Spanish Civil War.

The artwork in the Harnett Print Study Center reflects the artist's studio work with more the academic subjects of figure studies and still lifes. Created throughout his lifetime, the figure studies reveal the artist's continual interest in the human form while an array of still lifes demonstrates his progression from highly realistic representations to completely abstract, vibrant watercolors.

Daura's prolific output of several thousand works attests to his self-professed, lifelong "love affair with art." His work is included in the collections of Virginia institutions such as the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond), the Virginia Historical Society (Richmond), The Chrysler Museum of Art (Norfolk), and the Daura Gallery at Lynchburg College. National and international collections include the San Antonio Museum of Art, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona, and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. The Pierre Daura Center was recently established at the Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia.

Works in this exhibition were selected from a recent gift of two hundred and twenty-eight works given in 2003 by Martha Randolph Daura. The exhibition was co-curated by Richard Waller, Executive Director, University Museums, and Bradley J. Wright, '06, marketing major, University of Richmond, and 2005 Harnett Summer Fellow.
Past Programming
"Looking at the Life and Art of Pierre Daura"
Lecture by Richard Waller, Executive Director, and Bradley J. Wright, ' '06, marketing major, University of Richmond, and 2005 Harnett Summer Research Fellow
Tuesday, September 27, 7 p.m.
Harnett Print Study Center, George M. Modlin Center for the Arts

Reception and Preview of the exhibition
Tuesday, September 27, 8-9 p.m.
Booth Lobby, Harnett Museum of Art, University Museums,
George M. Modlin Center for the Arts