(Highlights of Frederick Mulder’s remarks at the September 17, 2014 announcement of his gift of 23 Picasso ceramics to Remai Modern.)
When I sold my great Picasso linocut collection two years ago to the Frank and Ellen Remai Foundation, and the Foundation gave it to you, I thought, “I’m from Saskatchewan; I ought to do something for the gallery, too.”
This gesture sprang from my continuing sense of wonder that I had been a Prairie boy, growing up in the 1940s and ‘50s in tiny Eston, SK, 35 miles from a paved road. When I came to the University of Saskatchewan in the 1960s to do my first degree, there was no museum in Saskatoon. Yet I ended up in London, England, working with the families of the craftsmen who helped Picasso make his linocuts, etchings, and lithographs. And I managed to put together from these friendships the most extensive collection of Picasso linocuts in the world.
From this sense of wonder and delight, I wanted to make my own contribution, complementing the Picasso linocut collection Ellen Remai bought with such vision. I decided on a group of Picasso ceramics. Picasso loved doing ceramics, and he made them roughly at the same time as the linocuts, in the same village, devoted to many of the same themes, and democratic impulses. Picasso saw his editioned ceramics as a way for ordinary people to have a Picasso to eat or drink from — though few ever have! I realized the ceramics would also be a bridge between the linocuts and a tradition of art ceramics in Saskatchewan.
I am so pleased my linocut collection came here through the vision of Ellen Remai, and I feel privileged to be able to make my own small contribution to build on her gift. I believe Saskatoon may now have the largest public collection of Picasso linocuts in Canada, as well as the world’s largest collection of Picasso linocuts.
About Frederick Mulder
Mulder is an expert in 19th- and 20th-century European printmaking, including the work of Picasso. Director of the Frederick Mulder Foundation, he founded The Funding Network, a UK-based organization for social change. Winner of the Judges’ Special Beacon Fellowship Prize in 2004, he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by the Queen in 2012.