Published: December 28, 2010
The art collection assembled by American fashion designer Herbert Kasper †known simply as Kasper †is notable for its distinctive character and quality. Beginning January 21, The Morgan Library & Museum will present the collection to the public for the first time, offering visitors a rare opportunity to see this group of drawings and photographs. “Mannerism and Modernism: The Kasper Collection of Drawings and Photographs” will be on view through May 1.
The exhibition will feature more than 100 works, including old master drawings, modern and contemporary works on paper, and photography. The unusual, tripartite nature of the Kasper Collection is a testament to both Kasper’s personal taste and his desire to build a unique collection.
A particular focus of Kasper’s activity as a collector has been Sixteenth Century European art, notably drawings by masters associated with Mannerism †a style distinguished by its emphasis upon elegance, artifice and sophistication. Exhibition highlights include important works by Giulio Romano, Polidoro da Caravaggio, Parmigianino, Peter Candid, Hendrick Goltzius and Giorgio Vasari.
The earliest drawing on view, Fra Bartolommeo’s “Figures Fighting (Study for the Rape of Dinah?),” marks the end of the High Renaissance and reveals the artist’s pursuit of a dynamic composition populated with classically proportioned figures. Paolo Veronese’s arresting pen and ink studies for “The Consecration of David” exemplify the energetic line and complex poses associated with the Mannerist style.
Well represented are Northern artists such as Maarten van Heemskerck; his “Susanna and Her Relatives Praising the Lord” reveals the influence of Italian art in the sculptural treatment of the figures and classical inspiration of the buildings. In Hans Hoffman’s “An Affenpinscher,” the artist employs watercolor and gouache in a manner reminiscent of Albrecht Dürer.
Equally impressive are Kasper’s holdings of modern and contemporary drawings. This part of the collection features important Cubist works by Pablo Picasso and Juan Gris. Picasso’s “Glass and Bottle of Bass on a Table,” for instance, combines different viewpoints and collaged materials to challenge “the reality in nature.” Juan Gris’s “The Coffee Grinder” destabilizes the genre of still life by transforming household items into geometric abstractions. Also on view are significant works by Henri Matisse, Jean Dubuffet, Cy Twombly, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra and Anselm Kiefer.
Photographs constitute the most diverse portion of Kasper’s collection, with prints by major historical figures, in addition to numerous works by emerging artists. The photographs span the early Twentieth Century to the present, chronicling the evolution of the medium through works by Constantin Brancusi, Hilla and Bernd Becher, Robert Mapplethorpe, Jenny Holzer and Vik Muniz. Man Ray’s “Max Ernst Sand Painting” records the appearance of a drawing of a female figure incised in the sand by the photographer’s longtime friend and fellow Surrealist Max Ernst. Brassaï’s “The Imp, Belleville, Paris” (from the “Graffiti” series) belongs to the genre of street photography, also well represented in the exhibition.
“The Morgan is delighted to make this truly exceptional private collection available to the general public,” said William M. Griswold, director of the museum. “Kasper’s drawings and photographs are exhilarating in their diversity yet unified by the collector’s distinctive vision and devotion to quality.”
A catalog accompanying the exhibition features more than 150 works, including reproductions of all of Kasper’s major acquisitions, and provides the first comprehensive overview of the collection.
The Morgan Library & Museum is at 225 Madison Avenue, at 36th Street. For information, 212-685-0008 or www.themorgan.org .
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm