Lists Take the Spotlight at RISD Museum

Mar 25, 2013

The humble list is the focus of a new exhibit at the Rhode Island School of Design Art Museum.  The lists provide added insight into the artists who kept them.

The RISD Museum has on display a collection of 80 lists, most of them written by artists.  The collection is on loan from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art.  The most prominent artist featured is Pablo Picasso. A yellowed four-by six-inch piece of paper contains his recommendations of artists for a 1913 exhibition.

RISD Museum curator Allison Chang says the list of ten artists shows Picasso had a keen eye for talent.

"Juan Gris, Mesanger, Leger, Duchamps, they all ended up having very prominent careers as modern artists in the early 20th century," Chang says.  "He [Picasso] was a great talent scout."

Some of the lists are elaborately illustrated.  Others more mundane like painter Franz Kline’s 1960 receipt from a liquor store for booze.

"I think he had them delivered for a New Year’s Eve party," Chang says. "He spent $274.51, which was a huge amount of money in 1960."

The list exhibit will be on display at the RISD Museum through June 16th.