Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection. The Metropolitan Museum Of Art

I’ve been spending a lot of time at the Met lately, rushing up to view the many shows of interest to me. The other day I took the long trip to the Upper East Side to view the very beautiful Cubism show from the collection of Leonard Lauder who has promised this great trove of 81 masterpieces to the Met. Lucky Met. Lucky us. This is a show to savor, to casually walk slowly through the seven galleries and not to be rushed or inconvenienced by the ladies who lunch, the tourists or the people who have those annoying listening devices attached to their heads The collection focuses on only four giants of modern art Picasso, Braque, Gris and Leger all long time favorites of mine who pretty much changed the history of art with their experiments in painting that took on abstraction, collage, drawing and assemblage with twists and turns that are still being felt today, more than a century later. Its hard to grasp that these amazing works date back to 1907 and extend only to 1918, these are for me toe curling works that still give me pause, that can still thrill and inspire. The big surprise for me were the vibrant paintings by Gris who is probably the least known (and certainly the least seen) of the group. Reason for this might be that he was only 40 when he died, which probably explains why he is not as well known as the other three who lived to creative old age with Picasso passing when he was 92. I thought he would live forever, and I guess he does still live on, it seems that there are major shows of his work every year. One of my favorite sculptures of his is in the show “Glass of Absinthe” of 1914, which I grew up seeing at the Moma, and here is presented in a later casting. This was a piece that played with me, and no doubt threw its influence all of me along with the great Max Ernst’s small combine painting “Two Children Are Threatened by a Nightingale”. In 1962 when I was 15 my high school art teacher gave us the assignment to do a book report on an artist we liked and I choose for some reason Braque. When I was a kid I would buy these small cheap paper books with color repros on various artists, and one that I had was on Braque. My report took the form of a little book that I made and still have along with the one I did on Modigliani. I typed out excerpts from the text, and pasted in the small reproductions from the book. I made a big hit with my art teacher who even though she knew that the text was not mine gave me a grade of 100. That’s the grade I would give to this wonderful exhibition. 


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