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Cubism:The Leonard Lauder Collection
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
October 20 2014-February 16, 2015

Leger's The Typographer
"Composition (The Typographer)," by Fernand Leger, 1918–19, Oil on canvas, 98 1/4 × 72 1/4 inches 
Promised Gift from the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection
Wall text: "This painting depicts an anonymous worker standing with his back to the viewer, presumably typesetting the red-and-white letters in front of him. The colorful segmented oval at center is the man’s hat. His ear is represented by a curved, gray, tubelike shape, and his torso is depicted in red at lower center. The dark perimeter of the oversized canvas sets off the dazzling brilliance of the center scene, which in its scale and graphic power emulates the posters and billboards that Léger saw all around him in postwar Paris. Léger made many changes to the composition, likely working on it into 1919, despite the dating on the lower right."

Except where otherwise attributed,  photos by Michele Leight, Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection
All works are promised gift of Leonard A. Lauder to the Metropolitan Museum except where noted

By Michele Leight

Some will remember the media reports about Leonard A. Lauder's one billion dollar gift of his collection of Cubist art to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Several of the masterworks are illustrated and described in this review of the exhibition. All the works of art in the collection and exhibition are the Promised Gift of Leonard A. Lauder to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where 81 paintings, works on paper and sculpture which Mr. Lauder pledged to the Museum in 2013 is shown in its entirety for the first time.

In an interview with Emily Braun in the catalogue accompanying the exhibition, also titled "Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection," (edited by Emily Braun and Rebecca Rabinow) at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the curator asks Mr. Lauder how he began collecting.

"For almost as long as I can remember, I've been a collector," Mr. Lauder responded, adding that he "started as a seven - or eight - year old, collecting picture postcards of Art Deco hotels in Miami Beach."

"The way the architecture worked fascinated me - the almost surrealistic way that a hotel was plunked down on the beach, surrounded by nothing but blue sky and ocean in the background. Was that the way it really was? No, but's that's the way they wanted you to see it, and I loved it...That collection grew and grew. My parents sent me postcards whenever they traveled, and I'd save one card from here and one card from there. I kept my collection in a shoebox in my room - my own private treasure chest. Once in a while, I would take it out and admire it. It was important to me to collect something that no one else collected (at least as far as I knew), something that was all mine..." he said.

Thomas Campbell and Leonard A. Lauder

Thomas Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, with Leonard A. Lauder at the press preview of "Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection"

From these humble beginnings emerged the important collection of Cubist art currently on view at The Metropolitan Museum Art, that include some of the most famous paintings in the world in this genre, created by four artists that symbolize Cubism: Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Juan Gris and Fernand Leger. Their paintings, works on paper, and sculptures show that while they might all be labeled "Cubist," each had their own brilliant and distinctive style, which makes this collection even more fascinating. For some, it will dispel any ideas that Cubism fits neatly into a particular slot.

Both Braque and Leger served in, and were impacted - differently - by, World War I, and it influenced their art-making. Arguably Picasso and Braque are closest in spirit - and end result if one looks at their body of Cubist canvases - which is not a coincidence, as they did work together and compete and egg each other on extensively. Juan Gris is one-of-a-kind, and there is much to delight and intrigue the viewer in his work. Perhaps the surprise for most people will be the extent to which Leger is represented - justifiably - in this collection, where he more than holds his own with stunning paintings such as "Composition (The Typographer)," executed in 1918-19, illustrated at the top of this review, and with his rich and dynamic works on paper. There are other surprises, or unusual juxtapositions, in the collection, which adds to its dynamism, the most notable being several outstanding works on paper by all four artists, including studies for famous, finished canvases in this and other collections.

A review would not be complete without insights about why Leonard Lauder formed this collection, which are addressed in the previously mentioned interview at the beginning of the catalog accompanying the exhibition, where Emily Braun asks Mr. Lauder: "What motivates you as a collector?"

Mr. Lauder responds:

"Collecting is a passion, possibly an illness or an obsession - or all of the above!" As I look back, I see that I never really did it alone. I did it with people's advice, and I learned from other people. In high school I collected antique picture postcards. One day I visited a stamp dealer who had a beautiful selection of old German postcards. There, I met an older gentleman who was a memer of the Metropolitan Post Card Collector's Club. He showed me the value of cards - not the monetary value, but what qualities to look for. He explained the printing techniques, how the cards were organized, and what each card's serial number meant. It was fascinating. From that moment on, I always sought the advice of someone who knew a lot more than I did, because to me, the thrill was not just in the search and acquisition but also in the connoisseurship and the potential for learning."

"So, assembling your Cubist collection was related to your deep interest in history - essentially, you are a historian. I've seen that in your postcard collection (an enormously rich archive, which you recently donated to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston). I've seen that in your library and the books that you read assiduously, and in our conversations about cities, about the world wars, about propaganda. Your Cubist collection was formed with a historian's eye and, in many ways, with a historian's method. Would you agree?" continues Ms. Braun:

"Yes. For instance, I was always interested in the history of France - from 1900 to the beginning of the First World War - and I amassed a collection of postcards from the period. My discovery of Cubism, the great movement that changed Western art forever, was deeply connected to my love of French history and the history of modern society, politics and culture," Mr. Lauder said.

Mistral and L'Estaque

Left: "The Terrace at the Hôtel Mistral," by Georges Braque, L'Estaque and Paris, autumn 1907, oil on canvas, 32 × 24 1/8 inches 
Right: "Trees at L' Estaque," L'Estaque, summer 1908. Oil on canvas, 31 5/8 by 23 11/16 inches
Both the Promised Gift from the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection

Wall text at the show set the scene for what would become the  new art movement, Cubism: "
A century ago, L’Estaque was a modest Mediterranean port to the northwest of the industrial city Marseilles. Of the many artists who spent time painting its scenic vistas, none was better known than Paul Cézanne (1839–1906). It was partly in homage to this revered and recently deceased artist that Braque traveled to L’Estaque in the summer of 1907. The influence of Cézanne’s art can be seen here in Braque’s palette and use of geometric forms to render the terraced park adjacent to a seaside hotel."

Wall text at the exhibition is cited throughout this review as it gives a historical context for this important art movement, the first to portray the objective world in an abstract, non-objective way, while also incorporating the world of ideas. The exhibition was, for the most part, organized chronologically, adding to the historical emphasis Mr. Lauder brought to his collecting through the years:

"Cubism was born just over a century ago, in the years of European conflict that led to the Great War and when established orders and ideas were being called into question. Albert Einstein’s theories of relativity, Sigmund Freud’s investigations of the unconscious mind, and innovative ways of seeing, from aerial views to X-rays, challenged traditional notions of reality. The barrage of words and images generated by newspapers and advertising posters dramatically altered everyday experience. Led by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, the Cubists sought to create new forms of artistic expression that reflected these shifts in hierarchies and perception. They did so by overturning the conventions of representation, reconceiving the depiction of three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional picture plane. Cubism destroyed traditional pictorial illusionism and paved the way for the pure abstraction that dominated Western art for the next fifty years. Blurring the boundaries between fine art and popular culture, the Cubists were the first to incorporate strips of newspaper and wallpaper, book pages, and tobacco wrappers—the flotsam of modern life—inside the picture frame. They confounded expectations of materials and originality, changing the definition of art itself. Covering the years 1906 to 1924, the Leonard A. Lauder Collection consists of eighty-one works of art, many of which are benchmarks in the revolutionary history of Cubism."

Trees at L'Estaque

"Trees at L' Estaque," by Georges Braque, L'Estaque, summer 1908. Oil on canvas, 31 5/8 by 23 11/16 inches

Wall text: "A November 1908 display of Braque’s work at Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler’s Parisian gallery is considered the first Cubist exhibition. The Leonard A. Lauder Collection contains two landscapes from this historic debut: The Terrace at the Hôtel Mistral and this work. Created one year apart, they chart Braque’s stylistic evolution toward a reverse perspectival space, wherein highly sculptural forms push outward rather than recede into depth. Light and shade are no longer used to model objects naturalistically. At far left is a cylinder that represents a tree trunk and behind it is a cube, which may indicate a rock or a building farther in the distance. Landscapes such as this one were misunderstood and criticized by Braque’s peers as being “full of little cubes,” leading to the use of the name “Cubism” for this new artistic approach."

It all began in November 1908, when a display of Braque’s work at Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler’s Parisian gallery is considered the first Cubist exhibition. The Leonard A. Lauder Collection includes two important landscapes from this historic event: "The Terrace at the Hôtel Mistral" (which shows traces of Fauvism) and "Trees at L'Estaque," both illustrated here. Typically, they were not well received at the time, but that did not deter Braque:

"In September 1908  Georges Braque submitted to the jury of the Salon d'Automne six Cezanne-inspired pictures he had recently created at L'Estaque, where Paul Cezanne himself had painted. The Salon jury, headed by Henri Matisse, rejected them. Matisse reportedly described the refused canvases as being full of 'little cubes.' Stung by the rejection, Braque arranged instead to show twenty-seven of his recent works at Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler's gallery on the rue Vignon. That exhibition, which ran from November 9 to 28, marked the birth of 'Cubism' as a concept..." (from the essay, "The Birth of Cuism: Braque's Early Landscapes and the 1908 Galerie Kahnweiler Exhibition," by Jack Flam)

The swirling geometric shapes of "Trees at L'Estaque, illustrated above, defy conventional representation, an effect explained by Braque, who said he was seeing "'something else: 'the underlying reality of the landscape, the enduring presence of the elements in it that transcended the fleeting sensations of direct perception. What he was seeking, in effect, was a kind of painting that was more clearly based on ideas that could make a new claim to truth..." (ex. cat)

Picasso and Braque became inseparable in their quest for a new art form, captured in this quote by Picasso:
“Almost every evening, either I went to Braque’s studio or he came to mine. 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.”

Castle by Braque

"The Castle of La Roche-Guyon," by Georges Braque, La Roche-Guyon, summer 1909, Oil on canvas, 25 1/2 by 21 1/2 inches

Wall text: "Before reporting for mandatory military service in the summer of 1909, Braque visited the town of La Roche-Guyon, on the Seine northwest of Paris. This canvas is one of five views he painted of the local castle, a ruined twelfth-century tower situated on a chalk cliff above a fortified manor house. Taking his cue from Cézanne’s landscapes, Braque incorporated a high horizon line, vertically stacked motifs, and faceted planes that tumble forward into the viewer’s space. A central lozengelike shape—one of Braque’s favorite compositional devices during these years—stabilizes the composition, which is rendered in a cascade of shimmering fragments."

Picasso's early Cubist paintings bear the influence of one of the greatest painters of all time, Paul Cezanne, and this was no coincidence. Picasso, like other artists of his time, revered the master, even as he sought to surpass him in innovation and originality. In an essay in the exhibition catalogue, "Picasso, Cezanne, and Accounts of Early Cubism," Michael Fitzgerald writes:

"In 1943 Pablo Picasso told the photographer Brassai that Paul Cezanne 'was like our father.' His admission echoed Henri Matisse's famous statement of 1908 that Cezanne was 'the father of us all' and reflected the effect the profound impact of Cezanne's work on the early careers of many twentieth-century artists, especially in the years just before and after Cezanne's death in 1906, when large exhibitions of his work were held at the Paris Salons, his art was ubiquitous in Paris and was generally considered the most significant precedent for avant-garde practice...Besides grappling, as an ambitious artist, with these public exhibitions, Picasso had professional reasons to address the question of Cezanne. Ambroise Vollard, the dealer who had presented Cezanne's first one-person show, in 1895, and built a large inventory of his work through subsequent exhibitions and transactions with the artist, also gave Picasso his first major exhibition in Paris, in 1901, and remained one of his most important, if occassional buyers. If Vollard had become Picasso's regular dealer - the artist's unfulfilled hope - his gallery would have not only provided steady financial backing but also positioned Picasso as the heir to Cezanne...Instead, Picasso found crucial early support in the household of Leo and Gertrude Stein, and there, too, Cezanne was the essential, referent for artistic genius. Leo had learned to admire Cezanne under the tutelage of the connoisseur Bernard Berenson, and the Stein's salon did more than any other venue in Paris to promote Cezanne's influence. Leo began acquiring works by Matisse and Picasso in 1905. By 1908, when he broke with Matisse, Leo had proclaimed Picasso a 'phoenix,' the greatest artist to rise from Cezanne's ashes. He specifically defined Picasso's importance through his confrontation with the legacy of Cezanne. Speaking of Picasso, Leo named Cezanne as the 'one rival who had to be met'...Perceiving Picasso's relationship to Cezanne to be different from that of his confreres Matisse and Andre Derain, among others, as well as from Picasso's own description of it in later years, Leo wrote, 'He was an outsider, not a Frenchman, and could not with the others accept Cezanne as a father, 'le pere de nous tous,' as Matisse once said. Picasso's lifelong pride in his Spanish heritage did set him apart from artists who conceived themselves as part of an illustrious French tradition, as Matisse certainly felt himself to be, yet Leo exaggerated this difference when he states that Picasso 'did not enter into a rivalry with the painters about him' because of his sense of otherness. Indeed, Picasso's rivalries - and collaborations - with his contemporaries were among the defining characteristics of his career."

Nude with raised arm

"Nude with Raised Arm and Drapery (Study for 'Les demoiselles d'Avignon')," by Pablo Picasso, Paris, spring-summer 1907, oil on canvas, 25 5/8 by 19 3/4 inches

If you have always been fascinated by Pablo Picasso's "Les demoiselles d'Avignon" because it is one of the most amazing paintings ever created, it is a special treat to see a 1907 oil on canvas measuring 25 5/8 by 19 3/4 inches entitled "Nude with Raised Arm and Drapery (Study for 'Les demoiselles d'Avignon)" in the Leonard Lauder Cubist Collection - illustrated above. It is a stunner, and a beautiful runner-up to the final act, illustrated below, which is permanently on view at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. It also illustrated Picasso's obsession with African art and the nude, which persisted throughout his artistic career. Unlike Braque, Picasso would eventually move beyond Cubism and create hundreds if not thousands of compositions featuring the mask-like faces and torsos prevalent in African Art that could trace their origins to this study of a woman, among hundreds of others the artist created in preparing for the final "Les demoiselles d'Avignon." In an essay entitled "Double Exposures: Picasso, Drawing, and the Masking of Gender, 1906-1908," Christine Poggi writes:

"...a strange doubling and cohabitation of bodies structures Nude with Raised Arm and Drapery, an oil of spring-summer 1907 that again takes up the image of the erect gisante, the sitting/slouching of horizontal figure with parted thighs who is represented vertically on legs that cannot sustain her. (Picasso also imagined this figure lounging on cushions on a bed or sofa and sitting in a chair in related studies). Conservation examination of the Lauder study reveals beneath the paint surface the image of a nude, stocky Picasso, seen in profile with a visible penis and disproportionately large head. Here the artist portrayed his own body in a rigid, self-contained stance similar to that of his crudely executed wood sculptures of winter 1906-7 and of 1908 - now known as his 'fetish' figures. The self-portrait also recalls a surprising sequence of drawings in sketchbook 42 of 1907, in which Picasso depicted a nude male figure, usually with penis exposed stepping through a curtain with arms either raised or held by his side as if trying on for himself the pose of the prostitute who arrives in three-quarter view at the upper right of Led demoiselles. In two of these drawings, the child appears to be Picasso. As Robert Rosenblum has observed, these drawings 'transsexualize' the figure who passes through the curtains; moreover, the drawings 'art nouveau rhythms' suggest 'a return to a womblike experience...the naked creature who is born from these organic shapes appears to regress to a kind of homunculus, infant, or embryo. The transsexualizaiton and infantilization go even further in one drawing, in which Picasso superimposes a male child/sexual initiate bearing his own schematized features onto a frontally positioned nude with parted thighs, so that their forms and postures are confused and intermingled...In 'Nude With Raised Arm and Drapery, Picasso reworked certain elements of this 'archaic,' infantile self-portrait and tansferred them to the female nude...."


Permanent collection, The Museum of Modern Art: "Les demoiselles D'Avignon," by Pablo Picasso, 1907, oil on canvas, acquired through the Lilly P. Bliss Bequest, 1939 (This painting was not included in the exhibition. It is illustrated here because it is referenced in the catalogue and because it relates to the drawings illustrated here by Picasso)

Standing nude

Pablo Picasso: Left: "Standing Female Nude," Paris, winter 1906–7, Ink and gouache on white laid paper, 24 1/4 by 16 3/4 inches

Wall text: at the exhibition references these sketches and "Les demoiselles D'Avignon," permanently on view at MoMA: "The earliest pictures in Leonard Lauder’s collection were created by Picasso in 1906. A number of drawings from this period contain multiple layers of imagery, revealing that Picasso reversed the gender of his figures when he reworked the compositions. Continuing to address issues of human sexuality in his art, Picasso began a daring new painting, "Les demoiselles d’Avignon" (1907; Museum of Modern Art, New York); two studies for it are on view here. Whereas Braque deconstructed traditional European painting through his engagement with Cézanne’s landscapes, Picasso attacked it via his unorthodox treatment of the nude, largely inspired by African sculpture. Picasso’s ambition to reconfigure the hallowed subject of the nude intensified in 1909, when he reimmersed himself in a study of the old masters. During an extended stay in Spain, he drew inspiration from the allegorical paintings of El Greco (1540/41–1614). Several canvases by Picasso in this room depict nudes in ambiguous settings that are neither pure landscapes nor interiors. The sense of melancholy that pervades these scenes suggests that Picasso himself was torn between his reverence for the art of the past and his desire to invent a radically new approach to painting."

Avignon head

 Head of a Woman (Study for "Nude with Drapery"), Paris, 1907, 
gouache and watercolor on tan wove paper; subsequently mounted to panel, 12 3/16 by 9 7/16 inches

Wall text: "This sheet was initially bound into Carnet Dix (Notebook Ten), a sketchbook that Picasso filled with drawings and watercolors related to two major oil paintings of 1907: Les demoiselles d’Avignon (Museum of Modern Art, New York) and Nude with Drapery (The State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg). Here, Picasso presents the face as a shallow mask, with the simple ovoid eyes reading as open or downcast. The reduction of the facial features to elementary geometric shapes and the striations on the flesh, which serve as both decorative details and shadowed cross-hatching, were influenced by Picasso’s encounter with African art at the Musée du Trocadéro in Paris."

"Les demoiselles D'Avignon," is illustrated above, together with a compelling study, entitled "Head of a Woman" that "...may have also been a study for one of the demoiselles. In this drawing , Picaso pressed the face so close to the foreground that it breaches the upper limit of the picture. Like the previous oil study, this one presents the face as a shallow mask, but with the new intensity provoked by Picasso's encounter with African art at the Musée du Trocadero in June 1907. However, if in the earlier study Picasso created a depersonalized visage through a deliberately crude application of blue paint over his own preexisting face, thereby emphasizing the distinction of the mask from the face that lies beneath it, here he fused the mask to the paper support. One cannot imagine detaching this mask from the paper ground, despite evidence of layered applicaitons of paint in certain areas. Perhaps even more enigmatically, he made the face both singular and general, as if an abstracted psychic force were emanating from a particularized portrait. Somewhat distorted, asymmetrical focals stand in for the eyes. Picasso painted over their interiors with white gouache so as to partly cloud, but not completely extinguish, their wide-eyed gaze. Indeed, white serves, paradoxically, as a sign of shadow throughout, obscuring a former outline and narrowing the almond-shaped mask at the right, and indicating the recession of the forehead at the left. Harsh striations in black, white and red both simulate scarification and accentuate abrupt, inorganic transitions and disjunctions. As in most related images, Picasso eschewed the laws of anatomical structure, bringing the eyes to the very edge of the face and settling the head directly on a curve signifying 'shoulders.' A length of falling hair, exaggerated eyelashes, and what might be an earring at the left constitute the only markers of gender, but these secondary feminine attributes do little to disturb the overall tendency toward sexual de-differentiation in the image." (from the essay "Double Exposure: Picasso, Drawing, and the Masking of Gender, 1906-1908" by Christine Poggi, in the exhibition catalogue)

Woman with a book

"Woman with a Book," by Pablo Picasso, Paris, 1909, oil on canvas, 36 1/4 by 28 3/4 inches

Wall text: "The image of a woman with a pensive gaze, opened book, and head weighing heavily on one hand is a classic image of melancholy, as seen in works by Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528), El Greco (1540/41–1614), and Camille Corot (1796–1875), among others. A studio photograph by Picasso shows the canvas on an easel in front of Nude Woman with a Guitar (also on view). The head casts a prominent shadow against what appears to be a back wall, suggesting that Woman with a Book began as an interior scene. The trees and mountains at upper left were added later (they are not evident in the photograph)"

More than the other artists whose work is featured in this collection, Picasso was intrigued with and influenced by the art of the past. His early body of work confirms that - at heart at least - he was an avowed classicist. Yet the allure of innovation beckoned, and he responded. For Picasso, "Woman with a Book," painted in 1909, is both a significant move forward and a reverent look backwards. In an essay in the exhibition catalogue, "1909: Picasso's Meditation On the Past," by Andrea Bayer notes that Picasso was especially influenced by El Greco, and other great masters of the past:

"...As early as 1901 works by artist's of the past seemed to come his way. The poet Max Jacob recalled the first time he met Picasso: 'I remember having given him a Durer woodcut, which he still has.' The artist assiduously collected postcards and photographic reproductions; the extent of the collection came to light with the discovery in the Picasso Archives, Paris, of a portfolio of albumen prints of paintings, including examples from all the great European photographic studios, such as Alinari (Florence), Anderson (Rome), Braun (Paris), and Laurent (Madrid). Such images allowed Picasso to continue to keep El Greco in mind. Gustove Coquiot, who organized Picasso's first exhibition at Ambrose Vollard's Paris gallery, reported that the artist had placed photos of El Greco's paintings all around his studio. A 1906 photograph of Fernande, Picasso, and Ramon Reentos shows the three seated at a table; tucked into the backrest behind them are postcards including immediately recognizable works by Sandro Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, and Peter Paul Rubens, among others, clearly demonstrating their quotidien presence in the life of the young artist."

The Leonard A. Lauder collection contains five works of art from 1909, including "Woman with a Book," (illustrated above), that is shown in the catalogue besides a reproduction of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot's "Interrupted Reading," circa 1870, (Art Insitutue of Chicago, Potter Palmer Collection, 1922). Andrea Bayer continues: "...Woman with a Book shares much with the classical portrayal of the melancholy woman - head bent to the side, cheek resting on one hand, surrounded by objects alluding to her thoughts or character - an iconography with extensive pedigree. The figure of Melancholy received its greatest elaboration in Albrecht Durer's 1514 engraving Melencholia; the figure's image was codified in and disseminated by Cesare Ripa's Iconologia (first published in 1593). The theme of the melancholic female went through countless permutations before Picasso dealt with it, perhaps never more poignantly than in the hands of the nineteenth-century painted Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. Picasso is known to have been engaged with Corot's work after his return to Paris from Horta; the 1909 Salon d'Automne, which he visited, included a large group of paintings by Corot, many showcasing his ability to integrate figures and landscapes. In the same months, following Picasso and Fernande's move to their new home on the boulevard de Clichy, the artist hung a work by Corot amid other things on the studio's walls; Fernande described it as a 'little Corot representing a pretty female figure.'"


"Pedestal Table, Glasses, Cups, Mandolin," by Pablo Picasso, Paris, spring 1911, oil on canvas, 24 1/4 by 19 1/2 inches 

Wall text: "Picasso’s still life, probably painted a few months before Braque’s, is arranged on a round pedestal table draped with a braided-and-fringe-trimmed cloth. The composition centers on the cup and saucer and the black sound hole of the mandolin—two props seen in the photograph of Picasso’s studio at left. Depending on their placement and combination with other shapes, Picasso’s simple graphic marks—semicircles, triangles, short vertical and horizontal lines, and S-curves—assume the identities of different objects. For example, the prominent curved form with parallel lines at upper left denotes the loop of a curtain, while its fringed tassel, resembling a fluted bottle, dangles just below to the right"

Braque clarinet

 "Still Life with Clarinet (Bottle and Clarinet)," by Georges Braque, Ceret, summer-autumn 1911, oil on canvas, 25 1/2 by 19 3/4 inches

Wall text: "The subject of this still life is not a clarinet as has often been thought, but a tenora, a Catalan woodwind instrument that Braque heard played by folk bands in the village of Céret in the French Pyrenees. The diagonally placed tenora rests on a rectangular tabletop, which is tilted up and rotated at an angle, its edges defined by long unbroken lines. The round knob of its front drawer appears at the base of the picture. The contours of the still-life objects, including a long-necked bottle at left and a stemmed glass at right, emerge from the luminous planes."

The group of paintings illustrated here are the reviewer's personal choice, although several of them elicited more attention than others at the show, which begs the question whether Mr. Lauder, the collector, had any personal preferences. In the interview with Lauder, Emily Braun asks:

"Are there certain painting that you like more than others, or, to put it differently, are there certain pictures or works in the collection that would just break your heart if they were to leave?"

Leonard Lauder responds: I have no favorite children, I have no favorite pictures. The collection is of a whole, like one piece of cloth. You can't pull a strand out. That is what makes the collection such a pleasure for me - it's the whole thing, I have pictures in every room in the house. Often, I sit in a room and just look at a picture. There isn't one picture that I look at more than any other, I'm just always interested in learning more about each one of them."

The two paintings, "Still Life with Clarinet (Bottle and Clarinet)," by Braque, and "Pedestal Table, Glasses, Cups, Mandolin" were compared in the exhibition and the accompanying wall text is included here, under the heading "A Lesson in Difference."

Picasso recalled that from 1909 to 1911 “almost every evening, either I went to Braque’s studio or he came to mine. 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.” Braque’s Still Life with Clarinet (Bottle and Clarinet) and Picasso’s Pedestal Table, Glasses, Cups, Mandolin (both at right) exemplify the similarities and differences between the two artists’ work. The authorship of their paintings from this period is even more difficult to discern as they were signed on the back to avoid any visual distraction. Working with still lifes that they had arranged in their studios, Braque and Picasso shattered the profiles of objects in order to reveal their salient characteristics from varied points of view within a flattened pictorial space. Close looking reveals aspects that distinguish their respective styles. Braque used longer, unbroken lines and prominent diagonals to anchor his composition, and he distributed the weight and dimensions of the Cubist facets evenly across the surface. In contrast, Picasso’s forms are more compact and tend to accumulate toward the center of the image. Whereas Braque applied his paint with a semi-transparent, gossamer consistency that creates a subtle luminosity, Picasso’s brushstrokes are more opaque, revealing his flair for a dramatic use of black and pronounced shadows."

Still life with fan

"Still Life with Fan: 'L'Indépendant,'" by Pablo Picasso, Céret, summer 1911, Oil on canvas, 24 by 19 3/4 inches

Wall text: "Presumably aware that this painting might seem impenetrable at first glance, Picasso provided several “attributes” that he thought would be recognizable to anyone. The most obvious is the masthead of L’Indépendant, the local newspaper of Céret, the French town in the foothills of the Pyrenees where he was staying. The reproduction of the folded newspaper provides information about the scale and subject matter of the painting and may prompt a viewer to seek out other identifiable objects, such as the curve of the café table at right or the five-petal flower on a curved stem, bottle, and glass at center. The individual gray and blond brushstrokes lend an optical vibrancy and contrast with the dark contour lines in the painting’s center." 

A section entitled "Word and Image" at the exhibition focuses on the incorporation of letters, newspaper clippings and other artifacts from everyday life, and specifically references "Still Life with Fan: 'L'Independent,'" by Pablo Picasso, painted in Ceret in summer 1911:

In 1910, just as they approached the brink of abstraction, Braque and Picasso drew back and began to introduce visual clues into their pictures. Braque specifically referred to the flat forms of stenciled letters as “certitudes.” Picasso later used the term “attributes” to describe such immediately recognizable elements. Cubism came of age at a moment of explosion in print media: posters and newspapers turned Parisian streets into veritable collages of word and image. Picasso first depicted a newspaper masthead in a painting from the summer of 1911, Still Life with Fan: “L’Indépendant.” By fall 1912, Braque and Picasso had begun pasting bits of mass-produced papers directly onto their drawings, giving rise to the new medium of papier collé. Braque took the lead by incorporating faux bois (imitation wood grain) wallpaper into his drawings; two of his earliest examples are displayed on the opposite wall. Picasso responded by composing images with pieces of newspaper. The use of unorthodox art materials, jettisoning of traditional modeling, and play of visual and verbal puns were revolutionary. The need for illusionistic representation was gone; meaning could be imparted through signs for things or even through fragments of actual objects. Cubist collage, a radical development, would have an extraordinary impact on the art of subsequent generations." (Wall text)

An essay in the catalog entitled "Menu Du Jour: Word and Image in Cubist Painting" by Jack Flam, also highlights "Still Life with Fan: 'L'Independent," by Picasso:

"The appearance of words in Cubist paintings introduced passages of relative clarity into imagery that was often difficult to make out. The Leonard A. Lauder Collection includes Picasso's Still Life with Fan: 'L'Independent,'" the first painting in which he used lettering based on printed matter and in which the letters are the only easily legible forms. As the only part of the image that can be grasped immediately, they introduce another time frame and psychological relationships between words and images in general. The letters 'L 'Indep' at the lower right represent the masthead of L'Independent, the local newspaper in Ceret, where the picture was painted, and carefully rendered Gothic script introduces what Robert Rosenblum has characterized as an 'old-fashioned and picturesque' typeface into an 'avant-garde pictorial context.' This mixture infuses the picture with a particular energy and wit, and the meticulous verisimilitude of the Gothic newspaper masthead amid so many objects that are nearly undecipherable creates a kind of wry, self-reflexive commentary on the paintings own means. (Picasso may also have intended 'L 'Indep' as an ironic reference to his sense of superiority over the other Cubist artists who had recently shown in Room 41 at the 1911 Salon des Independants as well as from traditional painting, and making clear how much his painting surpassed anything that the official 'Independents' were capable of doing)...The rest of the objects in the painting, with the exception of the incongruously realistic little flower near the center, are quite difficult to identify; in fact, the precise place where each begins and ends is hard ot ascertain. They are represented in what might be called a state of coming-into-being that is typical of the way objects were represented in most of Picasso's paintings at this time..."


"Still Life with Dice," by Georges Braque, Paris, summer 1911, Charcoal on tan wove paper, 9 7/8 by 12 7/8 inches

Wall text: "A sign nailed to the wall of this café scene advertises rosé wine for “30 c[entimes]” a glass. By stenciling the missing “É” to the far left of “ROS,” Braque transformed “rosé” into “eros” (erotic love), a wry allusion to how wine and romantic dalliance often go hand-in-hand. Key to Braque’s Still Life with Dice is the trompe-l’oeil nail at top center, which along with its shadow creates and defines a depth of field that challenges the resolute flatness of other areas, such as the stenciled letters and numbers."
A personal favourite at this show is the drawing "Still Life with Dice" by Georges Braque, created in the summer of 1911, because it captures a sense of fun enjoyed by the Cubists, and mischievious Picasso. In an essay in the catalog, "Jouer: The Games Cubists Play" by Rebecca Rabinow, she writes:

"Punning and multivalent references delighted Cubist artists and their literary friends - Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob, and Andre Salmon - 'who made continual fun of everything.' 'When we dined together," Salmon recalled, "Jacob would often pretend that he was a small clerk, and our conversations in a style that was half slang half peasant amused everybody in the restaurant. We invented an artificial world with countless jokes, rites and expressions that were quite unintelligible to others.' Any word containing the sound 'cube' was immediately embraced, from the widely advertised pats of dehydrated broth ('boullion KUB') to the names of the famed Czech violinist Jan Kubelik, the Czech artist Bohuil Kuvista, and the Austian printmaker Alfred Kubin. What the Cubist artists considered a handy label for their work was interpreted literally by others. As the journalist Henry Bidou noted in 1911, 'The public is looking for something: they have heard about the Cubists; they want to see cubes.' Braque gambled with this  recognition by slyly including the most familiar cue of all: a die. The six-sided form is so well known that in Still Life with Dice Braque was able to represent various faces of the game piece without compromising its identity. Whether one interprets his lines as representing a single die seen from three perspectives or as three dice, Braque conjured a cube without mass, revealing new strategies of representation that trumped the old ploys of perspectival illusionism...Braque's inclusion of dice inevitably recalls Stephane Mallarme's highly influential typographical poem Un coup de des jamain n'abolira le hasard (A Throw of the Dice Will Never Abolish Chance), which appeared in the journal Cosmopolis in 1897 and was published in book form in 1914. The words are arranged on the page without punctuation, as if by chance, so that their visual impact assumes heightened significance. Braque surely knew of this work, as well as the free-association prose poems that Max Jacob wrote beginning in 1904 and eventually pulished in the collection Le cornet a des (The Dice Cup) of 1917. Braque, Jacob and their friends were fascinated by shifing and ambiguous meanings. Some argued that truly appreciating Cubism required embracing uncertainty, a process articulated by Jacob in his own apprach to writing: A story is begun and left unfinished, the reader is slid from one meaning of a phrase to another and from that new one to the next and so on to a dead end; it appears there's no sense in any of the poems, that words are piled one on another without rhyme or reason; what starts in all seriousness turns into a play on words, what appears to be profound thoughts on the cosmos erupt into full-throated laughter. The art of glissando, of stupefying the reader's mental faculties, of the gratuitous, of lighness of touch; it is the art of leaving one's intelligence in limbo...

Rebecca Rabinow continues: "Key to Braque's Still Life with Dice is the trompe-l'oeil nail and its attendant shadow at top center. Braque first used the motif in Violin and Palette (1909; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York) and Pitcher and Violin (Fig 30. cat). In Kahnweiler's opinion, the presence of  'a completely naturalistic nail casting its shadow on a wall' within an Analytic Cubist painting presented a singlar challenge to the viewer: The difficulty lay in the incorporation of this real object into the unity of the painting.' The representation of the nail and its shadow creates and defines a depth of field, which is challenged by the resolute flatness of other areas, such as the stenciled letters and numbers. Braque's nail is the equivalent of Jacob's glissando, a reminder that all bets are off in this gambit of (mis) representation...As Analytic Cubism gave rise to Synthetic Cubism, the objects depicted in still lifes became easier to identify, changing the nature of the game and prompting the viewer to tease our relaitonships between objects and to contemplate juxtapositions of shapes, textures, and finishes. Why, for example, did Picasso cover most of the surface of Bottle of Bass and Glass (CAT. 74), which is painted on canvas, with a wood grain effect? Did he intend to challenge the assumption that decorative finishes had no place in fine art? Does it represent a floor or wall molding, could the allusion be historical, a subtle nod to the wood panels on which artists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries painted trompe l'oeil still lifes, or to all of the above?"

leger card game

Drawing for “The Card Game,” by Fernand Leger, 1917, graphite and ink on off-white wove paper, 20 3/4 by 14 7/8 inches

Wall text: "Card games were one of the few ways that soldiers could distract themselves from the monotony and misery of their daily lives during World War I. Léger had dug trenches on the frontline, and a sense of his claustrophobic cramped quarters is reflected in this drawing of a tubular machine-man, whose left arm is bent as if holding cards or at least shielding them from view. On December 5, 1917, Léger sold this drawing, along with additional studies and the final oil painting The Card Game (1917; Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo) to his new dealer Léonce Rosenberg. It was Léger’s first major sale since the war had begun."

On the subject of "games", Rebecca Rabinow continues: "Before the war, the best-known images in Paris of card playing were those painted by Paul Cézanne (who made almost no effort to identify the individual cards he depicted). One of his large Card Players (ca. 1892-96, private collection) had been included in a posthumous Cezanne retrospective at the 1907 Salon d'Automne and was shown again, along with another version, at Gelerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, in January 1910. A third, (ca. 1892-96; Musée d' Orsay, Paris) was included in Count Isaac de Camondo's bequest to the Musee de Louvre the following year. Cezanne's Card Player's series inspired many young artists, including Picasso, Roger de la Fresnaye (Card Players, 1012; private collection), and Fernand Leger...Leger's Card Game is a rare depiction of game playing in his oeuvre. Visual high jinks did not suit Leger's pictorial agenda in his Contasts of Forms series (illustrated later in this review), which sharply differentiated his Cubist enterprise from that of Braque, Gris, and Picasso. In the painting and related ink-and-wash study in the Lauder Collection (CAT. 39), Leger transformed Cezanne's card-playing laborers from Provence into armored defenders of the nations. The figure in the lower-left foreground of the drawing is so radically cropped that only the top of his hat is visible. Leger's perspective owes much to his personal wartime experiences. As the pencil sketches he made in Verdun (Musee National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris) reveal, these striking compositions reflect the claustrophobic, cramped quarters in which he and his comrades were confined: the artist simply could not back away from his subject. As Leger wrote of October 27, 1914:

"All in all, for the past month the current war has become a nasty, harsh war, a war of defenses, trenches, attacks and counter-attacks in order to gain barely 50 meters of terrain. I know, since we are the ones carrying out the work and the 'biffins' [army squads] arrive to occupy them when the time comes. For the past three weeks, we have been living with them in the advance tunnels that we dug for them. It's an appalling life. Those poor devils stay for up to 11 days in there, 11 days without being able to sleep and eating when they can. If you raise your head, you are a marked man. The Germans are 100 meters away and watch for hats that jut up. It is as dangerous to take a piss as it is to lead an assault. The day before yesterday I saw something upsetting...A poor devil had to take a dump. He left the tunnel and hadn't even gone 4 meters before he was picked off. It was impossile to get him. The bullets were so dense that it would have been crazy. We all witnessed his death throes, he called for his friends by their names...This trench warfare is full of small murders like that. You sleep, you eat in the mud, in the rain. I don't know how men can do it. It is incomprehensible to me..."

Card games were one of the few diversions available to these soldiers, a temporary means of focusing on something other than the misery of their daily lives. The principal subject in Leger's Drawing for 'The Card Game' is a tubular machine man, whose eyes are concealed by his hat brim. His left arm is bent as if holding cards, or shielding them from view. Leger's focus on the figures is understandable: in a context as horrifying as World War I, a still life with cards alone could mean only that no one remained alive to play...Leger most likely created the Lauder drawing in the second half of 1917, while convalescing in Paris..."

Scallop shell

"The Scallop Shell: 'Notre Avenir est dans l'Air,'" by Pablo Picasso, Paris, spring 1912, enamel and oil on canvas, oval, 15 by 21 3/4 inches

Wall text: "Bold color reentered Braque’s and Picasso’s work in spring 1912, partly in response to the Italian Futurists’ brilliantly hued canvases, which debuted in Paris earlier that year. Picasso used industrial paint to reproduce the cover of a pamphlet, “Our Future Is in the Air,” issued by the Michelin tire company to raise support for the government’s aviation program. The blue, white, and red stripes refer to the French flag. Cubists enjoyed aviation references because they viewed their art as similarly groundbreaking. As an inside joke, Braque and Picasso compared their creative partnership to that of the Wright brothers."

"The Scallop Shell: Notre Avenir est dans l'Air" by Pablo Picasso is a stunning painting. At the show it is one of the paintings with abundant accompanying wall text in a gallery that vibrates with color, with a focus on Cubist Color and Cubist Metamorphosis:

"Cubist Color: In spring 1912, Braque and Picasso reintroduced color into their monochrome canvases. This development was likely in response to the garish images of the Italian Futurists, whose Paris debut in early 1912 intensified the competition among the international avant-garde. The works in this gallery exemplify how Braque and Picasso used color to help viewers identify objects, to trigger direct associations through symbols such as flags, and to set a tone—be it one of frivolity, patriotism, or even eroticism. Sometimes the addition of color was a by-product of incorporating bits of the real world into an artwork. In Picasso’s The Scallop Shell: “Notre Avenir est dans l’Air” (at left), the tricolor pamphlet is depicted with shiny industrial paint. Other works in this gallery are sprinkled with vividly colored dots that refer to the canvases of Pointillist artists, such as Georges Seurat (1859–1891), and, at the same time, evoke a fad of street culture—paper confetti. Every year at Carnival the crowds went wild, tossing tons of colorful paper circles into the air. Customers at the cafés along the parade route would try in vain to keep the dots out of their drinks, although some seem to have landed in Picasso’s sculpture Absinthe Glass. In addition to the irreverent collusion of high-and low-brow influences, stippled brushwork was key to the new pictorial space of Cubism: by varying the densities, sizes, and hues of the dots, Braque and Picasso found yet another way of producing the effect of overlapping planes without resorting to traditional perspective."

"Cubist Metamorphosis: Collage sparked a new means of representation in Cubist painting. Braque and Picasso began to use flat colored planes, to which they added telling details and descriptive textures, painted with trompe l’oeil illusionism. Woman in a Chemise in an Armchair (at far right), Picasso’s breakthrough canvas of 1913, inaugurated this new approach, known as Synthetic Cubism. If, in the early years of Cubism, Braque was the innovator, by 1913 it was Picasso who was leading the way. During World War I, Picasso experimented freely with drawing. The four works on paper that feature seated men (at near right) reveal his creative principle of metamorphosis. Simply put, Picasso played with forms, recognizing that the shape of a man’s shoe could be repurposed as the arm of a chair or that a hand with bent fingers could be depicted in the same way as a wine glass or a tassel. The identities of the objects change before our very eyes. Picasso’s novel biomorphic shapes—often comic, overtly sexual, and vaguely threatening—intrude upon the predominantly geometric structure of Cubism. These disturbing juxtapositions of realism and abstraction, the animate and inanimate, directly influenced Surrealism" (End of wall text)

Student with newspaper

"Student with a Newspaper," by Pablo Picasso, Paris, late 1913–early 1914, plaster, oil, conté crayon, and sand on canvas, 28 3/4 by 23 1/2 inches

Wall text: "The college student, identifiable by his beret, reads a newspaper and clutches the dotted form of a bottle in the crook of his arm. The face - a dark triangle with white oval eyes, arched eyebrows, a curved mustache, and a toothy grin - was inspired by a Wobe mask from West Africa. Picasso reveled in the work’s multiple textures. The grit of the sand mixed into some of the paint catches the light, an effect repeated by the colorful dots that animate the surface. Students showed up en masse for the annual Carnival celebrations, which involved copious amounts of paper confetti. The spray of red dots on this student’s face hints at his inebriation, an interpretation supported by the inclusion of a bottle of alcohol and by the shortening of the newspaper masthead to 'UR[I]NAL.'"

Absinthe glass

"The Absinthe Glass," by Pablo Picasso, Paris, spring 1914, painted bronze and perforated tin absinthe spoon, 8 7/8 by 5 by 2 1/2 inches

Wall text: "In an age when sculpture usually meant allegorical figures and portrait busts, Picasso’s life-size rendering of a glass of alcohol was shocking for its banality. Cast in bronze in an edition of six, and then hand-painted, none of the finished works is colored green, so it was clearly not absinthe’s distinctive color that inspired Picasso. Nor does he seem to have been moved by the national debate about whether to ban the potent liquor. Instead, absinthe presented Picasso with the opportunity to incorporate an actual piece of cutlery, a trowel-shaped, slotted spoon designed to hold a sugar cube over the rim of a glass when preparing the drink. When asked about the sculpture years later, Picasso remembered that he had been particularly intrigued by 'the relationship between the real spoon and the modeled glass. In the way they clashed with each other.'"

Picasso's "Student With Newspaper" - and his winsome sculpture, "The Absinthe Glass" - (both illustrated above) "...was created in the spring of 1914,  a time of 'crazed gaiety...a period dominated by Carnival.' Mi-Careme fell that year on March 19. The parade began at place Denfert-Rochereau and proceeded down boulevard Raspail, passing half a block from Picasso's apartment on rue Victor Schoelcher. It was cold and damp, but in the evening, when the weather improved, confetti filled the skies. As always, the revelers included rowdy university students, 'pale-faced youths...of unathletic build, the majority with spectacles.' They wore black velvet berets, which is a kind of Tam o' Shanter cap, and in France at least is a headdress never seen on land or sea except in the Quartier Latin and in the Basque country. In other words, they were the types Picasso had immortalized the previous year in his painting Student with a Newspaper, also in the Leonard A. Lauder Collection...Picasso's 1913-14 painting would seem to represent a student at Carnival: the male figure, who reads a newspaper while clutching the dotted form of a bottle in the crook of his arm, has a debauched quality that is underscored by the text of the masthead, which Picasso truncated from 'Journal' to 'urnal' (ur[i]nal). Elizabeth Cowling has suggested that the curved lines in a closely related papier colle in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, evoke Carnival streamers. Similar undulating lines appear in the Lauder Student with a Newspaper, just to the left of the figure's face, between the area of brown faux bois and the black double curve...In this dynamic composition, painted geometric forms, stacked topsy-turvy, assume anatomical meanings. On the right side of the student's head, for example, a small double curve with a dark circle inside it signifies an ear. The shape is repeated farther to the right, this time possibly representing a fastening on a collar. The face itself - a parallelogram superimposed with a dark triangle with white lozenge-shaped eyes, arched eyebrows, upturned mustache, and toothy grin - is said to have been inspired by a Wobe mask from West Africa. During this period Picasso was also intrigued with bas-relief, and here certain elements seem to project from the two-dimensional canvas, casting shadows generated by an unseen light source at the upper left. The newspaper appears heavily folded, almost pleated, and is punctuated with staccato horizontal dashes that signify printed words." (From the essay, "Confetti Cubism" by Rebecca Rabinow in the exhibition catalogue)

Violin by Picasso

"Composition with Violin," by Pablo Picasso, Paris, 1912, Cut-and-pasted newspaper, graphite, charcoal, and ink on white laid paper; subsequently mounted to paperboard, 24 by 18 3/8 inches

Wall text: "While Picasso has rendered the unmistakable attributes of a violin, most notably the scrolled top and F-shaped sound holes, some viewers might also see a face: eyes formed by the half circle at the top of the rectangle, cut in two by the instrument’s fingerboard to make the nose, and a mouth suggested by the shape of the bridge. Picasso and his friends embraced this kind of ambiguity, a sense of play that extends to the rendering of depth. The incorporation of pasted paper is a reminder that this work is resolutely two-dimensional, yet the shadow on the right side of the newspaper has an illusory third dimension."

Braque sti9ll life on a table

"Still Life on a Table: Duo pour flute," by Georges Braque, 1913–14, Oil on canvas, 18 by 21 3/4 inches

Wall text: "Braque often depicted a table drawer and rounded knob, seen straight on, at the base of his Cubist still lifes to orient the viewer. Here, the stippled brushstrokes in rich, ruddy browns and silvery grays create a scintillating surface that contrasts with the matte effect of the wood-grained triangle at center right, hand-painted in slight relief to look like a pasted piece of paper. The 'duo' on the cover of the sheet music at left may allude to the artistic collaboration of Braque and Picasso or to Braque’s 1912 marriage to Marcelle Lapre."

Braque Bottle Glasses and Newspapers

"Bottle, Glasses, and Newspapers," by Georges Braque, Paris, early 1913, Oil on canvas, Oval, 15 by 21 3/4 inches

Wall text: "The ostensible subject of this still life is a café. The letters 'NAL,' shown on a diagonal at right, are part of the French word 'journal' (newspaper); at left is a placard indicating the 'MEN[U DU] JOU[R]' (today’s menu). With its abrupt spatial shifts and juxtaposed rectangular forms, this work is a striking example of the immediate impact that Braque’s collages had on the aesthetic of his paintings. The inclusion in so many Cubist artworks of the letters 'JOU' (from 'jouer,' to play) is a hint at the game of representation that lies at the core of Cubism."

Braque still life

"Bottle, Glass, and Newspaper," by Georges Braque, Paris, early 1914, Charcoal and cut-and-pasted newspaper and printed wallpaper on gessoed paperboard (commercial board from mirror backing), Oval, 19 7/8 by 24 1/4 inches

Wall text: "The ostensible subject of this still life is a café. The letters “NAL,” shown on a diagonal at right, are part of the French word “journal” (newspaper); at left is a placard indicating the 'MEN[U DU] JOU[R]' (today’s menu). With its abrupt spatial shifts and juxtaposed rectangular forms, this work is a striking example of the immediate impact that Braque’s collages had on the aesthetic of his paintings. The inclusion in so many Cubist artworks of the letters “JOU” (from “jouer,” to play) is a hint at the game of representation that lies at the core of Cubism."

2nd etude by Braque

Still Life: "2ᵉ étude," by Georges Braque, Paris, early 1914, Oil, charcoal, and sand on unprimed canvas, 28 7/8 by 21 1/4 inches

Wall text: "Although the word 'CAFÉ''appears at right, this arrangement, like so many others by Braque and Picasso, was painted in the artist’s studio. At left, an area of faux marbre (imitation marble) indicates the material of the tabletop on which the items are arranged. A folded newspaper, “[Le Qu]otidi[en du] MIDI,' is tucked between a mandolin at left and a bottle, white clay pipe, and stemmed glass at right. Additional musical references can be found at lower right with the words 'solo violin' and '2eme étude' (Second Study)."

Dead of a Woman by Gris

"Head of a Woman (Portrait of the Artist's Mother)," by Juan Gris, Paris, 1912, oil on canvas, 21 3/16 by 18 1/4 inches

Wall text: "While distorted facial features are legible on the top half of this gridded composition, the bottom half is more difficult to read, making it a challenge to identify the woman with pearl earrings. It was Gris’s friend and dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler who first referred to this painting as a portrait of the artist’s mother, 'painted from memory, for after leaving Madrid he never saw her again.'”

The gallery filled with works by Juan Gris was notably colorful and uplifting - beautifully executed - while also including paintings like "Head of a Woman (Portrait of the Artist's Mother)," circa 1912, illustrated above, and "The Fruit Bowl," circa 1915, monochromatic bookends between a more colorful interlude that include magnificent "Pears and Grapes On a Table," (circa 1913) and "Still Life With Checked Tablecloth," excuted in 1915.  

Wall text set the scene for the inspiration and influences of another member of the Cubist foursome:  

"Legend has it that on his way to visit Picasso at the Bateau-Lavoir, the ramshackle complex of artists’ studios in Montmartre, dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler glanced into Juan Gris’s open window and asked to see more of his work. Gris (the adopted name of José Victoriano Carmelo Carlos González Pérez) had eked out a living as a caricaturist and illustrator, but by late 1912, after securing Kahnweiler’s financial support, he was able to devote himself to fine art. Having watched Braque and Picasso develop Cubism, Gris made it his own with precisely delineated compositions, flattened planes, and rhythmic surface patterns. His penchant for architectural motifs and standardized geometric shapes led to a new style of Cubism during the war years: one that aimed for classical restraint and synthesis, rather than the analytic deconstruction of form...."

"Fantômas:  The Leonard A. Lauder Collection contains an unparalleled selection of mixed-media collages created by Gris during the first half of 1914. Several incorporate witty references to the fictional criminal mastermind Fantômas, the protagonist of a wildly popular French crime series, which was published in cheap-paper editions and then produced as silent films. This shadowy thief and murderer, a master of disguise, fascinated Gris and his avant-garde circle. More than any other Cubist artist, Gris emphasized duplicitous identities, shape-shifting, and hidden clues in his work from this period. All of the collages displayed here ostensibly represent still lifes with newspapers, bottles, and glasses, yet visual sleuthing reveals objects that seem present and absent at the same time, even a headless man and a looming bull's head

Pears and Grapes by Gris

"Pears and Grapes on a Table," by Juan Gris, Céret, autumn 1913, oil on canvas, 21 1/2 by 28 3/4 inches

Wall text: "The sense of movement and intrigue in this diagonally oriented painting is palpable: someone has quickly left the scene, leaving a shawl or cloak behind on the chair and a crumpled napkin and folded newspaper on the table. The blade of the black knife at far left, dangerously angled at the table’s edge, infuses the painting with menace, while the goblet at right seems to levitate upward at an angle. A fluted design on its base almost appears as the fingers of an invisible intruder. In contrast to Braque and Picasso, Gris reveled in garish colors that add narrative drama to his still lifes."

"Pears and Grapes on a Table" is a beautiful, sophisticated Cubist painting that draws its strength from dizzying perspective and powerful colors, much as Leger's "Composition (Typographer)" does, a highly charged interlude between the monochromatic hues and tones that dominate much of Cubist painting.

"'Pears and Grapes on a Table' belongs to a series of paintings made in the late summer and early fall of 1913, which Gris spent in Ceret, in the South of France. Experimenting simultaneously with collage and with oil on canvas, he achieved his signature Cubist style, characterized by isometric projections and obliquely angled objects. Floors, walls and tabletop areas brim with checkerboard patterns, which are by nature flat and gridlike but which Gris set on a diagonal. And rarely are his checkerboards merely that - a set of bicolored squares. Divided and subdivided into geometric designs of two-toned triangles and diamonds, Gris's foreground backgrounds prompt multiple and reversible readings. To add to the visual complexity, echoes of distinctive shapes and profiles are plotted across the picture surface, transubstantiating from solid to void. In other instances, the edges of things are inexplicably occluded from view. Most notably, a new character emerges in Gris's compositions: the black silhouette...Pears and Grapes on a Table positions the viewer as if standing in close proximity to the scene, looking down on it. A bowl of fruit, poised precariously at the far edge of the table, occupies the center of the oddly insubstantial repast. The velvety black pears splay outward in a circular movement that reiterates the shape of the vessel, their inky tips directing our attention to other objects in the picure. Beneath them, also on the furiously rumpled tablecloth, like three bunches of grapes. Rendered mainly in pitch black and chartreuse green, the grapes play havoc with the reading of positive and negative forms, for the lighter areas alone improbably cast shadows - and weird ones at that. Two iterations of a folded newspaper, Le Matin, frame the right side of the canvas, the first few letters of their mastheads appearing in the familiar Gothic script. As the name suggests, this was a morning paper, although the colors of the painting hardly indicate the light of day. Clashing red, orange and mustard yellow emit the dingy glow of artificial illumination, the hot hues punctuated by touches of icy blue. Strange things occur: the goblet at the right begets a double that levitates upward at an angle, or is it lifted, perhaps, by an invisible hand, whose fingers masquerade as the glass fluttering? In his biographical account of the artist, Kahnweiler noted that Gris indulged in mystical pursuits such as table turning and levitation 'with a breath of mockery." (From an essay entitled "Juan Gris's Cubist Mysteries" by Emily Braun in the exhibition catalogue)

Man at the cafe by Gris

"The Man at the Café," by Juan Gris, Paris, 1914, Oil and newsprint collage on canvas, 39 by 28 1/4 inches
Wall text: "Gris’s largest and most celebrated collage from 1914 features a man with a stein of beer, reading the newspaper Le Matin, the pages of which are held together by a stick with teardrop-shaped ends. Though we can see his fedora, his face is hidden by the ingeniously cut-and-pasted newspaper fragments containing part of an article titled “The Bertillon Method / One will no longer be able to make fake works of art.” Alphonse Bertillon was a famed French criminal investigator who championed the forensic science of fingerprinting. The article posits that artists should be required to register their fingerprints, which then could be compared to ones found on any given canvas, rendering forgeries impossible. The presence of this shadowy figure, whose own fingers are colored a spectral blue, suggests otherwise."

Tablecloth by Gris

"Still Life with Checked Tablecloth," by Juan Gris, Paris, spring 1915, oil on canvas, 45 7/8 by 35 1/8 inches
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection, Purchase, Leonard A. Lauder Gift, 2014

Wall text: "Gris, a master of disguised images, presents a table brimming with coffee cups, stemmed wineglasses, a large white-footed fruit compote (seen from the side and from above) containing thickly painted grapes, a bottle of red wine, a bottle of Bass extra stout ale with its distinctive red diamond logo, a newspaper, and a guitar. Yet this painting has another equally compelling identity: a bull’s head. The coffee cup at lower center doubles as the animal’s snout, a black-and-white concentric circle at left is a “bull’s eye,” the bottle of ale is an ear, and the sinuous edge of the guitar is a horn. The letters “EAU” on the wine label, which ostensibly stand for “bEAUjolais” can just as easily represent “taurEAU” (bull)."

Fruit Bowl by Gris

"The Fruit Bowl," by Juan Gris, Paris, 1915-16, Graphite, wax crayon, and gouache on blue wove paper-faced paperboard, 10 11/16 by 8 1/2 inches

Wall text: "Illustration for Pierre Reverdy’s poem 'Compotier,' in Au soleil du plafond (Paris: Tériade Éditeur, 1955) 
Gris collaborated with his friend, the poet Pierre Reverdy, on a commissioned book, but the project stalled during World War I and remained unfinished at the time of Gris’s death. A reduced version, with color lithograph reproductions of eleven of Gris’s original still lifes, was published some thirty years later. The Reverdy poem that accompanies this image is titled 'Compotier' ('The Fruit Bowl'): 'A hand reaches toward the arrangement of fruit and, like a bee, hovers over it. The circle where the fingers glide is drawn tight as a trap—then they resume their flight, leaving at the bottom of the dish a bright red scar. A drop of blood, of honey, on the fingertips. Between light and teeth, the web of desire weaves the bowlful of lips.'"

Still life by Leger

"Still Life," by Fernand Leger, 1913, Gouache and oil on tan wove paper, 18 1/2 by 23 inches

Wall text: "With few exceptions, the objects on the table defy identification. Léger did not aim for a descriptive rendering of things, but rather, scintillating optical vibrancy. In his studies for the Contrasts of Forms series, Léger transformed traditional chiaroscuro. Instead of modeling with intermediary tones, he juxtaposed strokes of black and white (shadow and highlight) and circumscribed them with black contour lines."

Study for nude model by Leger
"Composition (Study for "Nude Model in the Studio"), by Fernand Leger, 1912, oil, gouache, and ink on paper on tan wove paper; subsequently mounted to masonite, 25 1/8 by 19 inches; 

Wall text: "This work is one of the largest and most highly finished sketches for a painting roughly twice its size, Nude Model in the Studio (1912–13; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York). Léger uses a series of curves to depict the volumes of a female nude standing in three-quarter profile, with her right arm bent behind her head. Léger considered this drawing important enough to exhibit at the annual Salon des Indépendants in spring 1913."

The Village by Leger

"The Village," by Fernand Leger, 1914, oil on canvas, 31 1/2 by 39 1/2 inches
  The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection, Purchase, Leonard A. Lauder Gift, 2013

Wall text: "This painting is one of a series that depicts a small village. Spherical and cylindrical shapes that evoke trees and possibly a town wall encircle the church with buttresses and a bell tower to the right of its facade. In this work, thought to be one of the last paintings he made before World War I was declared, Léger merged the past with the present, depicting historical architecture with the most contemporary means of expression."

Leger's paintings celebrate the man-made, and an environment in which nature takes a back seat. Like the photographers that celebrated architecture - including heavy machinery, bridges and industrial cityscapes (notably Charles Sheeler) - Leger reveled in the industrialization of his world. In an essay in the exhibition catalogue entitled "Essentially Modern, Quintessentially French: Leger's Prewar Landscapes," Dorothy Kosinski writes:

"It is possible that Leger's fascination with clouds and smoke derived from his conversations at La Closerie des Lilas, a cafe in Montparnasse, with the writer Jules Romains. Romains was the originator of Unanimism, a utopian, collectivist philosophy that deemphasized the individual in favor of the unity of human beings with every aspect of the modern environment, as elements of a single, synthetic entity. Leger - who went on, a few years later, to emphathise deeply with his fellow soldiers in the trenches, championed the worker, and decades later, wrote about an art for the people - may indeed have been influenced by Romain's poetic imagery of smoke in the city: 'My plumes of smoke arch above their blue chests/Shaking their heads, twisting their torsos/Trampling chimneys, rearing up/With a brutal desire to gallop.' There is a close correlation between Romains images  and the smoke forms that dominate so many of Leger's works from 1911 through 1913, from 'The Smokers and Smoke' to 'Nude Model In the Studio,' alongside a remarkable number of cityscapes (primarily of Parisian roofs) animated with puffs of smoke. Most intriguing is the way the poet endowed smoke with a lifelike energy that parallels Leger's use of the same type of form to depict the nude model, smokers and smoke itself, blurring the boundaries between animate and inanimate. In text and and on canvas, in interiors and cityscapes, people, places and things all fuse: 'People have melted together, their forms and their lives/...the passerby over there on the pavement/Is not the least bit outside me, I who agitate him and/whom he passes.'"

The Smoker by Leger   Back of painting

Left: "The Smoker," by Fernand Leger, 1914, oil on canvas, 39 1/2 by 32 inches; right: Verso, "Houses Under the Trees," by Fernand Leger, 1913, oil on canvas, 36 1/4 by 28 3/4 inches

Here is the accompanying wall text for "The Smoker:" "For Léger, smoke and smokers were symbols of modern industrial life and the working class, with whom he closely identified. The smoker’s face is seen in three-quarter view. His head is turned to the left (the back of it is represented by the elongated half-oval shape at upper center), and his red pipe juts out, with puffs of smoke floating up to the upper left corner. The figure’s massive body is a conglomeration of rotund swirling parts. This is the type of painting that led Parisian critic Guillaume Apollinaire to characterize Léger’s work as “cylindrical painting.” Verso, "Houses Under the Trees:" "The image found on the back of Houses under the Trees is a female figure, as indicated by the swelling curves of the body. The black semicircle at the top is her hat, a motif used by Léger in other works from this period. Though it was nearly complete, Léger cancelled the composition with brushy black strokes and began anew on the other side. The title, date, and signature on the stretcher bar refer to the painting on the front. Among the historical labels still affixed to the back are one from Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler’s Parisian gallery, stamped with an inventory number, and a modest circular sticker reading “WPC,” an indication that the work was once owned by Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., the son of the founder of the automobile company.

The illustration on the right shows the back of a canvas by Leger that is richly painted, turning it more into a sculpture or three dimensional object in the mold of Jasper Johns. Perhaps the reason is simply that Cubist canvases were painted on both sides in the interests of economy, as these artists were not flush with money. In a fascinating essay in the exhibition catalog entitled "The Backs Of Things," Emily Braun and and Rebecca Rabinow write:

"The back of a canvas yields far more information than just a works material origins. It can be a repository of additional images, extant or effaced; a visual record or trial and error in an earlier stage of the creative process; or perhaps, the site of a work by a different artist. It may even provide clues for re-dating the image on the front. In addition, the stretcher often has the character of a manuscript, even a palimpsest. Words and numbers, hand rendered, stamped, or typeset, appear in full or in fragments, indelibly inscribed or diminished by time, deliberately placed or haphazardly affixed. These pieces of evidence - be  they dealer's inventory numbers, names of private collectors, or labels from museum exhibitions - document the triumphs and travails of the object. They speak of countries and oceans traversed, different domiciles and audiences, fortunes gained and lost, and the virtue or weakness of the art market. Whereas the image on the front embodies the artist's vision and the worldview of a certain culture at a specific moment in time, the backs of things reveal the ongoing history of specific pictures and many stories they have to tell."

Kahnweiler championed Fernand Leger, whose work is noticeably different from the other three Cubists represented here. He was an important influence on Douglas Cooper, which had an impact on all four artists:

"Kahnweiler was eager to establish Leger alongside Pablo Picasso, Braque, and Juan Gris as the Cubist painters, distinct from the broader avant garde, shrewdly protecting and enhancing the value of the artists in his gallery stable. In turn, Kahnweiler had a profound influence on the thinking of the collector, curator, and art historian Douglas Cooper, who eventually defined 'the essential Cubism' and 'the Cubist epoch.' Kahnweiler's influence is clear in the commercial program of the Mayor Gallery on Cork Street in London, where Cooper was director in the 1930s and where, as a source for a good deal of the gallery's stock, he was in a position to insist that the four Cubist masters be shown separately from artists such as Gleizes and Jean Metzinger. Moreover, Cooper also purchased directly from Kahnweiler, adding to his fast growing personal collection of Cubist works. Most importantly, the clarity and authority of Kahnweiler's aesthetic philosophy deeply informed Cooper's key concept of 'true' Cubism,' to which he adhered in his curatorial and collecting practices over more than fifty years of professional activity, guiding (for better or worse) future generations' understanding of this pivotal art-historical moment. Both Kahnweiler and Cooper ignored the nationalist content that appears in much of Leger's prewar work, as seen in 'Houses Under the Trees' and 'The Village,' aspects that align Leger more closely with the 'public' or 'Salon Cubists' - Gleizes, Metzinger, and Henri Le Fauconnier - who imbued their images with nationalist allegories of fecundity and preeminence...'Picasso, for one, set Leger apart, claiming a special status for 'the Three Musketeers of Cubism' - himself, Braque and Gris. 'Leger puts down his colors in the required amounts and they all have the same degree of radiation...You can stand in front of one of his paintings for an hour and nothing happens beyond the shock you register during the first two minutes.' With these dismissive or ambiguous comments, Picasso nonetheless expressed an appreciation akin to Kahnweiler's admiration of the strident energy in Leger's works; he acknowledged too, Leger's success in achieving his goal of 'maximum effect.' Yet the pictorial freshness of House Under the Trees and The Village was soon tempered by the violent caesura of World War I, a traumatic reeducation, which Leger experienced firsthand and which would prompt a radical reevaluation of his artistic purpose and expression of the modern experience..."
("Essentially Modern, Quintessentially French: Leger's Prewar Landscapes," by Dorothy Kosinski, from the exhibition catalogue)

Three by Leger

All by Fernand Leger: Top: "Two Figures with Dog," 1920, ink on white wove paper, 15 by 12 1/2 inches; Lower left:  Study for "The Aviator," 1920, graphite, ink, and watercolor on tan wove paper, 11 3/8 by 15 inches; Right: "The Tugboat," 1918, ink, watercolor, gouache, on off-white wove paper, 9 5/8 by 12 8/8 inches

Wall text for "The Aviator": "Léger repurposed Cubist planes as mechanical parts and arranged them across the surface in a juxtaposition of geometric solids and architectural motifs. His postwar figures, from longshoremen to heroic aviators to city dwellers, have steely limbs and a metallic sheen. Even the conical snout and triangular ears of a dog conform to Léger’s new ideas about standardized and functionalist design, which he called his 'multiplicative' vision."

Leger served in World War I, and his return from the war marked a turning point in his painting, the most dramatic example being "Composition (The Typographer)," (1918-19), illustrated at the top of this review, that celebrates the artisans of the communications industry, and continuing in the wonderful works on paper illustrated here. 

"Writing from the front in April 1915, Fernand Leger anticipated emerging from the war a changed man with a changed vision, if only he could survive, he would be 'one of the great postwar generation' - not one of those safe at home, who would always be 'prewar' men. 'One has to have lived in the mud and the night for nearly a year to (be able to) discover Paris. How I will gobble Paris up, if I'm lucky enough to go back there! I'll fill  my pockets with it, and my eyes.' Leger the frontline soldier, the poilu, was no hero, but he would always claim that the war fundamentally changed him as an artist and gave him a new sense of identification with 'the whole French people,' above all the peasants and workers with whom he served...Between August 1917, when he finally escaped the carnage, he showed two major canvases at the first Salon des Independants after the armsitice and met with spectacular success..."
writes Christopher Green in an essay entitled "Fernand Leger's Multiplicative Vision For a Postwar Generation."

The difference between Leger's and Braque's experience of the War and its impact on their work is evident in their Postwar paintings. Braque served in World War I and was wounded in 1915 at Carency - a severe head injury which caused blindness and interrupted his painting till he picked it up again in 1917. He and Picasso did communicate however, the experience described by Braque as akin to "being roped together on a mountain."

 Christopher Green continues:

"While Georges Braque, a gravely wounded war hero, returned to painting with a succession of Cubist pictures worked up on black grounds, whose somber intensity evokes loss, Leger took on postwar Paris in a mood of almost ecstatic release and optimism. The sheer size and ambition of 'Composition (The Typographer)' allowed him to let loose with unbridled force; it is one of a succession of major paintings that celebrated Leger's return from the front, including the oil for which the Lauder Collection's circus sketch was a study. The origins of 'Composition (Typographer),' however, unlike any of the other works in the collection's postwar group, are to be discovered in their entirety in Leger's frontline experience..."

Seated man by Picasso

Pablo Picasso: "Seated Man," Paris, 1915–16, watercolor and gouache on off-white wove paper, 11 3/8 by 8 7/8 inches; 

Wall text: "Beginning in the fateful summer of 1914 through to the end of World War I, Picasso’s work developed in startlingly new directions as he experimented with a pastiche of different styles. Picasso again looked to Cézanne, reinterpreting his depictions of seated men and cardplayers. In Picasso’s versions, the figures’ crossed legs merge with those of the tables, and the curves of armchairs metamorphose into body parts. The mannequin figures of Giorgio de Chirico (1888–1978), who lived in Paris at the time, also suddenly appear in Picasso’s work, transformed into uncanny dummies, animated bottles, and looming shadows. Picasso’s combination of realistic details, abstract shapes, and biomorphic forms bridged Cubism and Surrealism.

An extraordinarly vibrant and dynamic drawing - watercolor and mixed media on white wove paper - by Pablo Picasso is illustrated at the end of this review, created in 1915-1916. It is entitled "Seated Man" and it has an American - New York - connection, described in the essay "Incessant Invention: Picasso's Drawings, 1914-1916," by Pepe Karmel:

".....the most striking feature of this composition is the inclusion of two planes covered with black dots. These are not the random colored speckles that Picasso had employed since spring 1914, evoking the Pointillist burshwork of Georges Seurat or showers of confetti (see the essay 'Confetti Cubism' by Rebecca Rabinow in this publication). They are, rather, monochromatic dots arrayed in a regular grid. In the finished canvas Man Leaning on a Table, (now in the Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli), they appear both as black dots on light planes and as white dots on dark planes, but they are arranged in identical grids. This new, regulated patterning bears comparison to the wartime compositional devices of Juan Gris, who introduced such stippled planes in his classicizing still-life compositions (see the essay on Juan Gris by Kenneth E. Silver in this publication). But to make sense of the gridded dots, we must look forward to Picasso's designs for the 1017 Ballets Russes. Similar arrays of dots appear in the costume of the 'American Manager' character and on the buildings that loom over the dancers in the stage set as a whole. There, the elongated dots unmistakably represent the apertures of windows cut into the facades of tall rectangular buildings...Such buildings did not then exist in France: the dots correspond instead to the incoic image of the American skyscraper around 1915. As John Richardson and Marilyn McCully have noted, Gertrude stein had shown Picasso photographs of American skyscrapers. Furthermore, they point out, Gelett Burgess's interviews with Picasso and other 'Wild Men of Paris' had appeared in the May 1910 issue of Archictectural Record, which also included an article on recent New York skyscrapers, and one of the illustrations in the article seems to have specifically inspired Picasso's costume design for the 'American Manager'. Given this history, it seems likely that the gridded dots in the 1915-16 Seated Man and the larger Man Leaning on a Table were meant to suggest the window's of skyscrapers..."If so, Picasso's 'window' grids of 1915-17, best known from his designs for Parade, had more influence on the subsequent history of abstraction than is usually recognized. The dotted grid of Seated Man reappears, for instance, in Machano-Faktur, a 1923 work by the Polish Constructivist Henryk Berlewi (Museum Sztuki, Lodz). Similar facade-like grids appear in later abstractions by another Polish Constructivist, Henryk Stazewski; by the Italian Osvaldo Licini; and by the Swiss painter Sophie Tauber-Arp. Other artists, such as Charles Sheeler and Alfred Stieglitz, created more naturalistic representations of skyscraper facades, stressing - as had Picasso - the repetitive, abstract quality of their fenestration. Picasso's drawings of this period, including these masterworks in the Lauder collection, thus provide an essential key not only to his own paintings but also to a range of later movements, from Surrealism to Constructivism." (ex. cat)

Students, cues, dice, skyscrapers, tubular clouds, confetti, newsprint, wallpaper and much more make this movement and this collection a fascinating journey for those interested in the evolution of modern art to the multi-faceted, mixed-media world of contemporary art today. Reference to Designs for the Ballet Russes remind us of the intersection of art - manifested in the scenery and costumes - and performance art. Brilliant showman Picasso must have wanted to join the performers of Diaghilev's ballet, but his work represented him instead.  Oh to have seen those brilliant productions.

A collection like this is the product of great passion and dedication. New York was, in a sense, the enabler of the initial inspiration behind the collection - as was MoMA - as Mr. Lauder eloquently describes it in the interview in the catalog. Emily Braun asked Mr. Lauder how he became interested in modern art:

"Through film! I was passionately interested in film. In New York City I went to P.S. 87 on the Upper West Side. My parents let me travel all over the city by myself. Two or three times a week, I would go downtown to watch classic movies at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). If I arrived early, I would wander through the museum. If possible, after the movie was over, I would linger in the galleries. I didn't discover Cubism then, but I did experience the great pleasure of savoring a picture again and again and making it mine...These were the years 1944-1946. The pictures that I visited often were Pavel Tchelitchew's 'Hide and Seek' (1940-42), (illustrated above and currently on view at MoMA), Peter Blume's 'Eternal City,' (1934-37), Dali's 'Persistence of Memory,'  (1931), and Van Gogh's 'Starry Night,' (1889). But my favourite was Oskar Schlemmer's 'Bauhaus Stairway,' (1932), which was hanging over the main staircase as you entered. I loved that painting and yearned for it...What all these pictures and these artists had in common was a new way of seeing, a new way of looking at things, so different from a photograph - and perhaps here was the seed that germinated into my love of Cubism..."

Pavel Tchilitchew

The Museum of Modern Art: "Hide-and-Seek," by Pavel Tchilitchew, 1940-42, oil on canvas, Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund, 1942, a painting cited as a favourite by Leonard Lauder when he was young and visited MoMA regularly (on view at MoMA)

At the press preview, Mr. Lauder spoke movingly about his families deep ties to New York, and to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in particular, which he described as the best museum in the world. He added humorously that he will look closely at the curators when he passes to make sure they do not take this precious collection off the walls, a familiar concern of donors to museums who want the public to be able to see the works of art, instead of enduring the fate of being stowed away in vaults.

The Leonard A. Lauder Collection of Cubist Art is a generous gift and a precious addition to a great, great Museum, which will hopefully be on view regularly.

Click here to order the catalogue from for 29 percent off its $65 list price
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