Cubism is Chic
Autumn doesn’t just signify falling leaves. It also means the start of wonderful art exhibitions. One of the most exciting is Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art which is billed as “the most important exhibition of the essential Cubists—Georges Braque (French, 1882– 1963), Juan Gris (Spanish, 1887–1927), Fernand Léger (French, 1881–1955), and Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973)—in more than 30 years.” Above is a look at the art in his living room before it was installed at the museum.
I had the pleasure of attending the press preview and was beyond impressed. Cubism is an often over looked artistic movement although Leonard Lauder considers it the entrance to the 20th-century. He started collecting over 40 years ago when he was one of the only people bidding on Cubist works at auction. He said the paintings spoke to him with their complicated compositions and clues. He decided to create a world class collection that would be worthy of a great museum. “Every picture I bought had one criteria, would it make the cut.” He wanted to make it difficult for curators to take a piece off of the wall and only wanted pieces such as the Winged Victory of Samothrace that is always on display at the Louvre.
Mr. Lauder decided to promise his collection of 78 pieces, and the three more he’s since acquired, to The Metropolitan Museum of Art since he and so many members of his family were born in New York and the city has welcomed and educated them so why not return these works of art to the city. He said, “it will catapult The Met into the 20th-century.”
Not only has be pledged his art to The Met but he has also established “the Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art will serve as a center for scholarship, archival documentation and collections, and innovative approaches to studying the history of Cubism, its origins and influence.”
One of the things I learned at the exhibition was how Picasso and Braque were such good friends that they decided together when each of their paintings were finished and pushed Cubism to new heights.
“Cubism was the most influential art movement of the 20th century: it radically destroyed traditional illusionism in painting, revolutionized the way we see the world (as Juan Gris said), and paved the way for the pure abstraction that dominated Western art for the next 50 years. Led by Picasso and Braque, the Cubists dismantled traditional perspective and modeling in the round in order to emphasize the two-dimensional picture plane. Cubist collage introduced fragments of mass-produced popular culture into pictures, thereby changing the very definition of art.”
Cubism opens at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on October 20, 2014 and runs through February 16, 2015. I also highly recommend purchasing the accompanying book Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection. It is not only highly informative but is destined to become a collector’s item.
Pablo Picasso, The Scallop Shell: “Notre Avenir est dans l’Air”, Paris, spring 1912
Pablo Picasso, Student with a Newspaper, Paris, late 1913–early 1914
George Braque, Violin: “Mozart Kubelick”, Paris, spring 1912
Pablo Picasso, Bottle of Bass and Glass, Paris, spring 1914
A look at the art including two Ferinand Leger works in Leonard Lauder’s living room.
Leonard Lauder in his home in front of Picasso’s Nude in an Armchair.
Pablo Picasso, Nude in an Armchair, Horta de Ebro (present-day Horta de Sant Joan), summer 1909