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Juan Gris’s The Musician’s Table Acquired through New Gift from Leonard A. Lauder—Now on View

New York – WEBWIRE
Juan Gris (Spanish, 1887–1927). The Musician’s Table, 1914. Charcoal, wax crayon, gouache, cut-and-pasted printed wallpaper, blue and white laid papers, transparentized paper, newsprint, and brown wrapping paper; selectively varnished on canvas.
Juan Gris (Spanish, 1887–1927). The Musician’s Table, 1914. Charcoal, wax crayon, gouache, cut-and-pasted printed wallpaper, blue and white laid papers, transparentized paper, newsprint, and brown wrapping paper; selectively varnished on canvas.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced today the addition of Juan Gris’s remarkable The Musician’s Table (May–June 1914) to the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection. Acquired with funds given by Leonard A. Lauder, this major example of Gris’s exploration in papier collé joins the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection now totaling 83 works by Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Fernand Léger, and Pablo Picasso.

“Since the landmark gift in 2013, Leonard A. Lauder has augmented the collection with five additional masterworks of modern art. His continued commitment and outstanding generosity to the Museum is exemplary, and it continues a nearly 150-year tradition of support from donors and collectors that is critical to the success of The Met’s mission,” said Daniel H. Weiss, President and CEO of The Met.

Max Hollein, Director of The Met, added: “The Musician’s Table deepens the rich holdings of the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection, the most important of its kind. It joins six other collages from this pivotal moment of the artist’s career, forming an unparalleled representation of his experimental forays into this medium. Combined with the critical contributions to scholarship made by the award-winning 2014 Leonard A. Lauder Cubism catalogue and the ongoing activities of the Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art, this gift further enables us to explore the depth of influence this transformative period had on modern art.”

The Metropolitan Museum of Art will celebrate the 150th anniversary of its founding in 2020, and announced today that one part of its celebration will be to further evolve its encyclopedic collection in a number of areas. “Our 150th anniversary offers an opportunity to celebrate, to thank our supporters and visitors, and importantly, to continue to expand the artistic excellence of our collections and the complex cultural narratives they tell,” said Mr. Hollein.  “And to help launch the Collections Initiative, there is no one who better exemplifies the spirit of giving that has fostered the growth of The Met and the benefits it provides to the public than Leonard A. Lauder with his continued support of the collections as well as curatorial positions, and the Research Center.”

“It is an honor and a responsibility to help build the resources of a great public institution,” noted Mr. Lauder. “I am inspired by previous generations of supporters who have contributed to making The Met’s collections among the greatest in the world. As the Collections Initiative begins this autumn to mark the 150th anniversary of The Met, I am pleased to step forward to continue to build and deepen the Museum’s holdings for generations to come.”

Juan Gris, The Musician’s Table (1914)

Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso invented papier collé in 1912 as yet another avant-garde challenge to the traditional illusionism in painting and to embrace the realities of modern mass culture. Juan Gris (Spanish, 1887–1927), however, was the first to exhibit a cubist collage in a public exhibition, drawing immediate notoriety and making his name as an avant-garde artist. Between December 1913 and October 1914, the artist moved away from painting to concentrate on this novel, hybrid technique, producing some 40 works with cut and pasted papers, oil paint, gouache, and various drawing media. Decorative wallpapers and allusions to the pulp fiction novels Fantomas particularly inspired him, and he carefully organized his compositions around the textural and symbolic properties of his materials. His works from 1914 have been praised as the summit of the artist’s oeuvre by Cubist scholar John Golding, who wrote that they “represent the climax of Gris’s exploration of the intellectual possibilities of Cubism and of the new techniques it has introduced.”

Within the carefully cut and pasted layers of The Musician’s Table, Gris inserted a clever message: the headline of the journal that rests on the table is made from newspaper mastheads from two different dates and refers to the mounting tensions of 1914 but also to rivalries between the Cubists. Along with the violin yet to be played and notation sheet awaiting a score, the composition suggests Gris’s hope for peace and harmony with his fellow artists.

This magnificent new acquisition is now on view in gallery 908 along with other hallmarks of The Met’s modern art collection.

More information about the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection and the Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art can be found in the 2013 press release here.

Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art: Upcoming Activities

Founded in April 2013, The Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art is a leading center for scholarship on modern art, with a special focus on Cubism. The first such institution dedicated exclusively to the study of modernism within an encyclopedic museum, the Research Center, under the direction of Stephanie D’Alessandro, Leonard A. Lauder Curator of Modern Art and Curator in Charge, makes critical contributions to scholarship through its fellowships for emerging as well as senior scholars and its robust program of exhibitions, lectures, publications, research projects, and workshops. In January 2018, Birds of a Feather: Joseph Cornell’s Homage to Juan Gris inaugurated the series of dossier exhibitions, which are related to a work or group of works from the Collection, under the auspices of the Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art. These exhibitions and their accompanying catalogues are intended to provide a deeper context for understanding Cubism, its protagonists and greater influences, contribute exceptional scholarship, and offer a fresh approach to the subject of looking and thinking about modern art.

Each year, the Research Center awards two two-year Leonard A. Lauder Fellowships for pre- and post-doctoral candidates. In addition to providing support for research devoted to the agents, dealers, and reception of Cubism, recent fellowships have supported the advancement of scholarship on topics connected to Latin American modernism, Russian Constructivism, and Surrealism. The institution also supports the invited residencies of senior scholars of modern art, who pursue their own studies while participating in the activities of the Research Center.

The Distinguished Scholars and Fellows for the 2018–19 academic year are:

Adrian Sudhalter, independent scholar (Distinguished Scholar residency Sept 2018–May 2019)
Nicholas Sawicki, Lehigh University (Distinguished Scholar residency Jan–May 2019)

Luise Mahler, independent scholar (Fellowship, 2017–2019)
Sean O’Hanlan, Stanford University (Fellowship, 2017–2019)

Giovanni Casini, Courtauld Institute of Art (Fellowship, 2018–2020)
Hilary Whitham, University of Pennsylvania (Fellowship, 2018–2020)

Leonard A. Lauder Lecture Series on Modern Art

In the winter of 2019, the Research Center will launch the Leonard A. Lauder Lecture Series on Modern Art. The inaugural lecturer is Professor Jean-Louis Cohen, Sheldon H. Solow Professor in the History of Architecture at NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts. The three lectures will take place in the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium on February 26, March 5, and March 12. Details will be made available soon.

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