NEW YORK, NY.- Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art will be 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. The exhibition and accompanying publication will trace the invention and development of Cubism using iconic examples from the Leonard A. Lauder Collection, with its unparalleled holdings in this foundational modernist movement. The exhibition will mark the first time that the Collection, which Mr. Lauder pledged to the Museum in April 2013, is shown in its entirety. The exhibition, which opens October 20, 2014, will present 79 paintings, works on paper, and sculpture: 17 by Braque, 15 by Gris, 15 by Léger, and 34 by Picasso. Rich in modernist pictures by Picasso and Braque, the exhibition will also include an unprecedented number of papiers collé by Juan Gris and a stunning array of Léger’s most famous series, his Contrasts of Forms.
Over the past 40 years, Leonard Lauder has selectively acquired masterpieces and seminal works to create the most important collection in private hands of works by the four preeminent Cubist artists: Mr. Lauder made his first two Cubist acquisitions in 1976 and continues to add to the Collection, which is distinguished by its quality, focus, and depth.
In coordination with Mr. Lauder’s announcement of the gift of the Cubist works, the Metropolitan Museum, with support from a group of trustees and supporters, including Mr. Lauder, has established a new research center for modern art, housed at the Metropolitan. 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. The Center has been envisioned by Mr. Lauder as a means to transform the presence of modern art at the Metropolitan in dialogue with its encyclopedic collections. With its own dedicated two-year fellowships—with two new recipients arriving each year—the Center will also sustain focused research on all aspects of modernism, the Leonard A. Lauder Collection and the Metropolitan Museum’s growing holdings of early and mid-20th-century art.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication edited by the co-curators of the exhibition—Emily Braun, Curator of the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection and Distinguished Professor of Art History at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and Rebecca Rabinow, the Leonard A. Lauder Curator of Modern Art and Curator in Charge of the Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art at the Metropolitan Museum. The publication will serve as an essential resource for the study of these four artists and their role in inventing and extending the definitions of Cubism. It includes 22 essays by 17 preeminent scholars in the field, who have used the works in the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection as the basis for new discoveries and interpretations. It will also publish 25 years of sustained research on the works in the Collection – their provenance, exhibition history, and inclusion in earlier canonical studies of Cubism.
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.