Arts, News

New York’s Met Museum Gets $1B Donation Of Cubist Art

Pablo Picasso. Femme assise dans un fauteuil (Eva) (Woman in an Armchair), 1913.
Pablo Picasso. Femme assise dans un fauteuil (Eva) (Woman in an Armchair), 1913.

Leonard Lauder’s interest in art began when he was six years old and began collecting Art Deco* postcards.

His postcard collection eventually grew to include more than 120,000 postcards. Last year, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston exhibited 700 of them.

But postcards weren’t Lauder’s main artistic interest. He became more interested in Cubist** art, by artists such as Pablo Picasso. He collected Cubist art for 37 years and built up a collection of 78 famous works.

Last week, he decided to donate his collection of Cubist art to New York’s Metropolitan Museum and to create a new research centre for modern art.

Lauder’s collection is worth more than $1-billion.

Some of the paintings are “the best and most important works of the four pre-eminent Cubist painters—Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Fernand Léger and Juan Gris,” according to a statement from the Metropolitan Museum.

Lauder, 80, comes from a very wealthy family. He is the son of Estée Lauder, who co-founded the Estée Lauder cosmetics company.

Lauder said he is donating his collection as “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 collection includes 33 works by Picasso, 17 by Braque, 14 by Gris and 14 by Léger.

Some of the most significant paintings in the collection are Picasso’s The Scallop Shell (“Notre avenir est dans l’air”), Woman in an Armchair (Eva) and Still Life with Cards, Glasses, and Bottle of Rum: “Vive la France”.

The collection is “truly transformational for the Metropolitan Museum,” according to a media release.

More than half of works in the collection were created during the six-year period from 1909 to 1914, when Picasso and Braque were working closely together.

The Lauder Collection will be exhibited in the fall of 2014.


*Art Deco is “an influential visual arts design style which first appeared in France in the 1920s… often characterized by rich colours, bold geometric shapes and lavish ornamentation.” (Wikipedia)

**Cubism is a style of painting and sculpture in which objects are “analyzed, broken up and reassembled in an abstracted form… from a multitude of viewpoints.” (Wikipedia) The famous painter Henri Matisse once dismissed Braque’s pictures as “painting made from small cubes.”

Related links
For the names of many of the paintings included in this impressive collection, read the Metropolitan Museum’s media release.

By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Before reading this article, you may have never heard of Cubism. After reading the article and looking at the painting created by Picasso, how would you describe Cubism? Do you like the painting by Picasso – why or why not?

If you feel like being artistic, select an ordinary image and try to draw it in a Cubist style (i.e. break up the image into small cube and different viewpoints).

Reading Prompt: Making Inferences/Interpreting Texts
Why do you think Lauder chose to donate his very valuable collection?

Use stated and implied ideas in texts to make inferences and construct meaning (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Develop and explain interpretations of increasingly complex or difficult texts using stated and implied ideas from the texts to support their interpretations (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Grammar Feature: Asterisks
An asterisk is a small star (*) that is used to refer readers to a separate note explaining a term. For example, the author used asterisks to explain the terms ‘Art Deco’ and ‘Cubism’.

Why do you think the author chose to use asterisks instead of including the information in the original paragraphs?

Would you include any more asterisks in this article? If so, where would you put them and what information would you explain?