22 Feb Celebrating the Cube
The Metropolitan Museum of Art just closed an intimate and revealing exhibition on the cubist works acquired by Mr. Leonard A. Lauder.
This impressive private collection is a promised gift to the museum and the show is an honor to the man who not only appreciated great art but has now provided the way so that anyone can enjoy what he so studiously collected and proudly displayed in his home.
A true connoisseur of this art period, Mr. Lauder began in earnest by focusing solely on four artists: Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Ferand Leger and Pablo Picasso, starting with a Picasso piece from 1906 and building his collection to an impressive eighty-one paintings, collages, drawings and sculpture. Together, the works are a wonderful summation of a singular style as interpreted by four very different artists.
I was captivated by the fact that the artists so clearly demonstrated the tenets of cubism but developed the form in their own unique way. Many of the paintings, one could argue, look all the same. And while this is true at first glance, further study and reflection show them as their own individual voice. This is where the placards provided fantastic insight, educating the viewer. I found these invaluable as they expanded the works exponentially.
Expecting to be most drawn to the Picasso pieces, I was surprised that my favorite turned out to be Juan Gris, whom I knew very little about. I was completely taken by his use of color and vibrant palettes. The paintings vibrate with a three dimensionality and I spent the most time absorbing them. Gris was also a witty artist, imbedding additional “hidden” images, such as a headless man or a bull. The concept of cubism easily allows for alternate visuals in a piece and his sense of humor and cleverness are unparalled in the movement.
The show followed a linear timeline so you can observe the development of the genre, culminating in Leger’s famous forms as he transitioned to the Purist movement at the start of the 1920’s.
Even though the show has closed, the promised gift ensures that museum goers will be able to enjoy these works for decades to come. And if it’s hip to be square, then the cube is where it’s at!