(New York, September 19, 2013)—Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, announced today that Leonard A. Lauder—after promising his collection of 78 Cubist works of art by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Juan Gris, and Fernand Léger to the Museum in April—has added another masterpiece, Léger’s The Village, to the collection. Mr. Lauder had been interested in the painting since he first saw it several years ago and provided funding to the Museum for its acquisition. It was placed on display in the first-floor galleries of the Lila Acheson Wallace Wing for Modern and Contemporary art this week, where it will remain on view through at least the end of the year.
Mr. Campbell said, in making the announcement, “Leonard Lauder is dedicated to creating the greatest collection of Cubist art in the world and to ensuring that these works will be accessible to the millions of people who visit the Met. Léger’s Village certainly demonstrates that unparalleled commitment. It is a rare and beautiful painting, in pristine condition. Most importantly, it represents a pivotal moment in the evolution of Cubism: using pyramids, cylinders, and spheres as building blocks, Léger creates a Cubist style that’s all his own.”
The Village was painted in 1914 by Léger (1881-1955) and depicts a church and neighboring buildings encircled by trees and possibly a town wall. (A second, identically sized version of the composition is in the collection of the Sprengel Museum, Hannover.) Unlike the city scenes for which Léger is better known, these two paintings are part of a rare series focusing on a country scene. The central part of the composition is painted in the colors of the French flag—blue, white, and red—a patriotic touch given that the work was created shortly before Léger was mobilized to fight in the First World War. The Village measures 31-1/2 x 39-3/8 inches (80 x 100 cm). It has been in private hands for nearly a century and is not known to have been exhibited publicly during that time.
Mr. Campbell announced on April 9, 2013, that Mr. Lauder has pledged to give the Metropolitan Museum his collection of 78 works by Picasso, Braque, Gris, and Léger, which stands as one of the foremost collections of Cubism in the world. The collection, distinguished by its quality, focus, and depth, includes 33 works by Picasso, 17 by Braque, 14 by Gris, and now 15 by Léger. Already unsurpassed in the number of masterpieces and iconic works critical to the development of Cubism, Mr. Lauder will continue to add to the collection. Mr. Campbell concurrently announced that, in coordination with the gift, the Metropolitan Museum is establishing the Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art at the Metropolitan, supported by a $22-million endowment funded by grants from Museum trustees and supporters, including Mr. Lauder. Further details are available here.
Exhibition of Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection in Fall 2014
The entire Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection will be on view at the Metropolitan Museum in an exhibition that will be open to the public from October 20, 2014, through February 16, 2015. Special Membership preview days will be held October 15-19, 2014.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue edited by Emily Braun, Curator of the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection and Professor of Art History at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and Rebecca Rabinow, the Leonard A. Lauder Curator of Modern Art and Curator in Charge of the Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art at the Metropolitan Museum. Essays by both scholars will be included in the catalogue, along with essays by Matthew Affron, Andrea Bayer, Harry Cooper, Elizabeth Cowling, Carol S. Eliel, Michael FitzGerald, Jack Flam, Christopher Green, Lewis Kachur, Pepe Karmel, Dorothy Kosinski, Christine Poggi, Kenneth Silver, Gary Tinterow, and Anne Umland.
The catalogue will be published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press.