“Woman in an Armchair (Eva)” from 1913, a masterpiece by Pablo Picasso, is on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. From Leonard A. Lauder’s renowned cubist collection, this exquisite painting provides a special opportunity to preview one of the masterworks from a wonderful collection at the Met. This display of Picasso’s work will be on view 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.
Thomas P. Campbell, director and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum, announced on Tuesday, April 9 that Lauder has committed to give the museum his collection of 78 works by Picasso, Georges Braque, Juan Gris and Fernand Leger. This complete selection stands as one of the foremost collections of cubism in the world. The collection, distinguished by its quality, focus and depth, includes 33 works by Picasso, 17 by Braque, 14 by Gris and 14 by Leger. It is surpassed in the number of masterpieces and iconic works that are critical to the development of cubism.
Among the highlights of the collection are Picasso’s “The Scallop Shell” (“Notre avenir est dans l’Air”)(1912), “Woman in an Armchair (Eva)” (1913) and “Still Life with Cards, Glasses and Bottle of Rum – Vive la France” (1914); “Partially Reworked” (1915); Braque’s “Trees at L’Estaque” (1908) and “The Violin (Mozart/Kubelik)” (1912); Leger’s “Houses Under the Trees” (1913) and “Commission (the Typographer)” (1917-18); and Gris’s “Portrait of the Artist’s Mother” (1912) and “Figure Seated in a Cafe (Man at a Table)” (1914).
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 Gris said) and paved the way for the pure abstraction that dominated Western art for the next 50 years.
Campbell concurrently announced that, in coordination with the gift, the Metropolitan Museum is establishing a new research center for modern art at the Metropolitan by a $22 million endowment funded by grants from Museum trustees and supporters, including Lauder.
According to Lauder, “This is a gift to the people who live and work in New York and those from around the world who come to visit our great arts institutions. The arts are the cornerstone of the cultural, educational, and economic vitality of the city. I selected the Met as the way to share this collection because I feel that it’s essential that cubism–and the art that follows it for the matter–be seen and studied within the collections of one of the greatest encyclopedic museums in the world.”
The entire Lauder collection will be presented for the first time at the Metropolitan Museum in an exhibition scheduled to open in fall 2014. The Leonard A. Lauder Collection is one of the most significant groups of cubism art ever assembled. Over the past 37 years, Lauder has selectively acquired the best and most important works of the four preeminent cubist painters–Picasso, Braque, Leger and Gris. He made his first two cubist acquisitions in 1976 and his most recent, a Gris college, in March 2013. Lauder will continue to look for opportunities to add cubist works to the collection he has committed to the Met.