"From Géricault to Rockburne: Selections from the Michael and Juliet Rubenstein Gift"
“From Géricault to Rockburne: Selections from the Michael and Juliet Rubenstein Gift” at the Met Breuer in New York City presents approximately 50 works from a promised gift of 160 works from the collection of Michael and Juliet Rubenstein. The works span two centuries with the earliest being a drawing by Théodore Géricault (circa 1818) to a work done by Dorothea Rockburne in 2019.
Michael Rubenstein became interested in art at an early age as a result of visits to museums and galleries in New York City. He began collecting art as a teenager in the 1950s when he purchased a drawing by American artist John Hartell. Together with his late wife Juliet, Michael spent the next 65 years assembling a significant collection.
The Rubensteins did not collect for investment purposes but rather to have art that they wanted to live with. They displayed their collection wherever there was space on the walls of their apartment in New York City. As a result, the works in their collection are not of monumental scale but rather are intimate pieces, which often provide a more personal connection between the artist and the viewer.
While large works demand oil paints, acrylics and similar mediums, small scale works lend themselves to a wider variety of mediums. While there is at least one oil on canvas on exhibit, most of the works are watercolors or drawings.
Since the collection was assembled on the basis of personal taste rather than on the basis of what was fashionable to collect, the works vary considerably in style ranging from complete abstraction to traditional figurative works. The collection includes works by relatively unknown artists to familiar names such as Juan Gris, Eugene Delacroix and Pierre Bonnard,
As always, we enjoyed the drawings of Henri Matisse, located on a wall of nude drawings by a number of artists. Matisse was able to covey his message with a great economy of lines. We also liked Bonnard's nudes, which are much more traditional in style than his paintings.
A complete contrast in style but nonetheless appealing was an untitled oil by Giorgio Cavilon. This abstract work presented bold patches of strong colors in a quasi- geometric pattern.
Lying somewhere in between in style, we liked the landscapes done by Graham Nickson and Charles Demuth. Both went beyond traditional waterolor using the medium to produce abstract visions.
In sum, the Rubensteins collected a number of pictures that are interesting as individual works. But is was also interesting to see them presented together as that presented an insight into the people who created this collection.
Above: Untitled by Giorgio Cavilon.
Below: Charles Demuth, "Abstract Landscape: Provincetown"
Art review - Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met Breuer) - “From Géricault to Rockburne: Selections from the Michael and Juliet Rubenstein Gift