The following texts were written by Emily Braun and Rebecca Rabinow for the Metropolitan Museum's presentation of Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection.
The Leonard A. Lauder Collection, a promised gift to the Metropolitan Museum, is the most important group of Cubist artworks still in private hands. Long fascinated by modern visual culture, Mr. Lauder, Chairman Emeritus of Estée Lauder Companies Inc., began acquiring postcards as a boy. In 1976, he purchased two works on paper by Fernand Léger. By the early 1980s, after acquiring several paintings by Picasso, Mr. Lauder decided to focus on Cubism, the most influential avant-garde movement of the first half of the twentieth century, which flourished in Paris in the years before World War I. He set his eye exclusively on the main proponents of the movement: Georges Braque (French, 1882–1963), Juan Gris (Spanish, 1887–1927), Fernand Léger (French, 1881–1955), and Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), artists whose reputations had been cultivated by visionary dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler. Mr. Lauder acquired works of the highest quality and historical importance with the aim of forming a comprehensive collection that would eventually be donated to a museum. The present exhibition marks the first time that the results of this sustained effort have been publicly displayed.