Post on April 5th, 2012 in Art and Industry: The business of fashion
I spent Monday afternoon at the Neue Gallery. The exhibition of Ronald Lauder’s personal collection had been on for five months and I had never gone for one reason or another. Monday happened to be the last day of the exhibition, so it was now or never. For those unfamiliar with the Neue Gallery, it is a magnificent turn of the century mansion on Fifth Avenue and 86th that was founded by Ronald Lauder as a museum dedicated to Austrian and German Art.
The building is a fantastic location to look at art and the exhibition is staged in a wonderful eclectic manner. The intricate and ornate details of the building and the variety of the selection, work perfectly, and give you a sense that the creation of art is one long continuous narrative that should not be divided into easy to relate categories for ease of understanding. Mr. Lauder’s collecting tastes are wonderfully varied from incredible early European armaments, to ceramics, and contemporary art. The exhibition has been somewhat divided into a few categories, but the museum is relatively small and I came away feeling that it was one continuous exhibition with one narrative.
My favorite part of the exhibition was in the first room where there are five tremendous Cezanne oils placed closely together and displayed above a group of the most intricate armored helmets I have ever seen. Each one of these paintings is a masterpiece and in other museum they would have been hung in a lonely manner on a large white wall with a large text next to it. Seen together closely packed and displayed with other pieces from a completely different period in history allowed a different perspective. I appreciated them more as individual works, rather than viewing them from the historical retrospective context where Cezanne is rightly heralded as the foundation of 20th century modernism.
To my surprise on the third floor in the last room of the exhibition was one of the maquettes that Matisse made for his screen-printed Ascher Square, Escharpe B. One of four seaweed elements of the 90cm silk screen-prints, this cutout was positioned in the upper right corner of the final square composition. Of the eight original maquettes that were created this is the only one with the whereabouts known, and I was glad to finally see it in person and very proud to see it displayed in such a prominent exhibition.
The quality of the work exhibited throughout the Lauder collection is on a similar standard to the best museums in the world. It is almost absurd when you consider that it is a private collection and it was all collected in the last 40 or so years. The exhibition was really a treat and I hope it instigates other large collectors to share their treasures with the public in a fashion that truly shows their passion for collecting.