Today contemporary art seems to rule the roost and more and more institutions such as, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston are undergoing monumental renovations and revamping their collections to cater to popular taste. However, with makeup mogul Leonard Lauder’s, donation of his $1.1 billion collection of art (and who said art wasn’t a good investment…) the Met will be expanding its Modern art collection instead of its contemporary.
Not known for it’s modern art collection the Met will now rise to the top as the crème de la crème, no doubt upping the competition between other institutions such as MoMA and the Whitney, after receiving this gift of 78 Cubist paintings: 33 Picassos, 17 Braques, 14 Legers, and 14 Gris from Mr. Lauder. This announcement couldn’t have come at a better time, in light of the recent lawsuit over deceptive admission costs. Lauder could be seen as the Met’s saving grace as he will restore their reputation from money grubber to muse. According to sources, the sum of the donation is one eighth of Lauder’s entire fortune, which demonstrates his generosity, but also shows that he still has money to continue building his impressive collection. Having been collecting for over forty years, Lauder stated that he has no plans to stop buying when, of course the right piece presents itself. His collection will most certainly be the Met’s new pride and joy and with “no strings attached,” the curators have free range over the presentation of the work. In fact an exhibition is already on the radar for 2014 which will be curated by Rebecca Rabinow of the Met’s Modern and contemporary art department and Emily Braun, an art historian and curator who’s been Lauder’s right-hand man for the past 26 years helping him build his collection.
This acquisition is undoubtedly a move in the right direction for the Met, which has been struggling to reinvent itself and present ‘young and hip’ exhibitions to attract the crowds. Last year’s Regarding Warhol exhibition was indeed an ambitious attempt to shake things up that unfortunately resulted in mixed reviews and landed a spot on TimeOut NY’s worst exhibitions of 2012 list… These new Picassos certainly aren’t young in age, but they are the definition of avant-garde, as well as exceptionally important in the history of art. Just maybe this good fortune will help the directors of the Met realize that they should embrace the historical, fill gaps in their collections, and stop running in the contemporary art race; because so far they are coming in close to last.
Here are a few of the many outstanding works of art that will soon have a new home at the Met.