Picasso, the Professor, and the Fine Art Print

In 1945, Pablo Picasso began to create prints at the Mourlot Studio in Paris, a print shop that was founded in 1852. Picasso worked in a space that he set up in a corner of the shop, where he spent months at a time creating prints. Between 1945 and 1969, Picasso created over four hundred lithographs at the Mourlot Studio.


With the help of master printmakers at the Mourlot Atelier, Picasso created many prints that are highly sought after by today’s art collectors.


At the time that Picasso was creating some of his most impressive prints, art historian Leo Steinberg was amassing a collection of prints that he found in bookshops, antique stores and frame shops in New York, London and Paris. An art historian with a PhD from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, Steinberg could easily afford the prints, for which he sometimes paid only pennies, on a university professor’s salary. In the 1940s, when Steinberg began to increase his collection, museums, galleries and art collectors were focused on buying paintings, often overlooking and not understanding the craftsmanship, labor and talent that goes into the creation of a fine art print.


Leo Steinberg was not only a college professor. He was an art historian, whom the New York Times called, “one of the most brilliant, influential and controversial art historians of the last half of the 20th century” and “an inspirational lecturer, a writer of striking eloquence and an adventurous scholar and critic who loved to challenge the art world’s reigning orthodoxies.”


His writings inspired artists like Jasper Johns to create innovative prints and, by the 1970s, fine art prints were getting the respect they deserved and their market value greatly increased.


Leo Steinberg died in 2011, at the age of 90. He donated his collection of more than 3,000 fine art prints to the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas at Austin, where he had taught. The collection ranges from prints by Michelangelo, Rembrandt and Goya to ones by Matisse, Picasso and Jasper Johns.


An exhibit, After Michelangelo, Past Picasso: Leo Steinberg’s Library of Prints, contains a selection of prints from the Steinberg collection and is currently on display at the Univeristy’s Blanton Museum of Art. Please contact us if you would like more information about the fine art prints of Pablo Picasso, Jasper Johns or the works of any of the other fine artists whose paintings, prints or scultptures are available at Surovek Gallery.



Lauren Moya Ford. How Leo Steinberg Saw the Profound Importance of Prints Before Most. Hyperalleric. February 15, 2021.
Taylor Defoe. A New Show of Leo Steinberg’s Print Collection Reveals the Critic’s Deep Appreciation for the Medium’s ‘Circulating Lifeblood of Ideas’. artnet news. February 8, 2021.
Nancy Kenny. Unorthodox preacher: Leo Steinberg’s prints helped explore and explain his sometimes controversial theories. The Art Newspaper. February 5, 2021.
Ken Johnson. Leo Steinberg, Art Historian, Dies at 90. The New York Times. March 14, 2011.
Blair Asbury Brooks. What Did Leo Steinberg Do? A Guide to Understanding the Brilliant Art Historian of “Other Criteria”. Artspace. September 2, 2014.

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