Exhibition tip: “Helena Rubinstein: Beauty Is Power” (Jewish Museum, NY)

Helena Rubinstein with African mask, c. 1935. Image courtesy of the Helena Rubinstein Foundation archive, Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York, Special Collections. Photograph by George Maillard Kesslere.

Helena Rubinstein with African mask, c. 1935. Image courtesy of the Helena Rubinstein Foundation archive, Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York, Special Collections. Photograph by George Maillard Kesslere.

When I was in New York, November last year, I visited the Jewish Museum‘s exhibition Helena Rubinstein: Beauty Is Power. Organized by Mason Klein, who also authored the accompanying catalogue, it focuses on the cosmetics entrepreneur Helena Rubinstein‘s famed art collection. Besides artworks by Picasso, Matisse, and Miró, it includes several objects from her iconic collection of African and Oceanic art. The sale of these objects, at Parke-Bernet Galleries on 21 April 1966, still is considered an important momentum that has driven the market forward and nourished the continued growth and appreciation of African art at the time. Rubinstein still is a cherished provenance and even the auction catalogue itself remains very sought after.

Below you can find some (non-professional) snapshots I discretely took during my visit. The whole exhibition was a delight and visually stunning by moments – the room with the black and white checkerboard floor for example was put to excellent use: it magnified the stark contrast between the white marble heads from Elie Nadelman and the black Fang heads at eye level. All in all, there were only about 40 African and Oceanic objects – the latter in the minority – but many of them in half a century were able to reach an iconic status, so it was wonderful to see them all reunited. If you are in the neighborhood it is definitely well worth a visit; the exhibition runs until March 22, 2015 (and you can see it in an hour – an hour well-spent that is).

Helena Rubinstein Beauty Is Power Jewish Museum

Helena Rubinstein Beauty Is Power Jewish Museum 2

Helena Rubinstein Beauty Is Power Jewish Museum 3

Helena Rubinstein Beauty Is Power African art

Helena Rubinstein Beauty Is Power Oceanic art

Helena Rubinstein Beauty Is Power African art 2