As New York's Museum of Modern Art has shifted it's focus away from painting and Modernism to concentrate on contemporary art and new genres, the Metropolitan Museum is picking up the slack.
Yesterday the Met announced that lifelong art collector and cosmetics big Leonard Lauder (net worth 8.1 billion, brother of Ronald, founder of the Neue Galerie and collector of early twentieth-century German and Austrian art) has pledged to give 78 pieces by Cubism superstars Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Juan Gris, and Fernand Léger that he assembled with help from his longtime curator Emily Braun. In addition the museum has announced they will establish the Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art. Nurturing scholarly work on Modernism, the central mission will be to produce research, programming, and publications about Cubism’s enduring impact on art, design, and architecture.
This is extremely good news for painters. Last Friday afternoon, while roaming through the painting galleries at the Met preparing for an upcoming field trip with some students, I was lamenting how few Cubist paintings were on view. The Lauder collection is going to fill a gaping hole in their collection. The first exhibition, scheduled for fall 2014, should be a knockout.
“Almost every evening, either I went to Braque’s studio or he came to mine." Picasso explained. "Each of us HAD to see what the other had done during the day. We criticized each other’s work. A canvas wasn’t finished until both of us felt it was.”
New opportunities resulting from the gift: Rebecca Rabinow, currently a Curator in the Metropolitan’s Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, has been named the first Leonard A. Lauder Curator of Modern Art, a new curatorial position. She will also serve as the Curator in Charge of the Research Center. Under the auspices of the Center, the Metropolitan will also award four two-year fellowships annually for pre- and post-doctoral work and invite senior scholars for residencies at the Museum.
Juan Gris, Figure Seated in a Café (Man at a Table), 1914
Fernand Leger, Houses under the Trees, 1913.
Image at top: Pablo Picasso, Woman in an Armchair (Eva), 1913. Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection; 2013 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
UPDATE (April 12): I just received word from the Met that the painting pictured at the top of the post, Woman in An Armchair (Eve), will be on display in the first-floor galleries of the museum’s Lila Acheson Wallace Wing for modern and contemporary art for "at least the next three months."
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