A wide-ranging exhibition of exceptional paintings, drawings, sculptures, and prints drawn from the collection of Louise Reinhardt Smith, a Life Trustee of The Museum of Modern Art, Masterworks from the Louise Reinhardt Smith Collection celebrates the superb array of gifts and promised gifts Mrs. Smith has made to The Museum of Modern Art. When they are eventually integrated into the painting and sculpture collection of the Museum, these gifts will further deepen, expand, and enrich the Museum’s chronological record of the history of modern art.
Remarkably varied in temperament and nature, the thirty-six works on view range from intimate portraits to expansive expressionist landscapes. Two historically important paintings by Pablo Picasso exemplify Mrs. Smith’s appreciation of powerful, albeit “difficult,” images: the large Bather (1908–09) and Woman Dressing Her Hair (1940). “Both seem to stress the monumental, and specifically sculptural, side of the artist’s imagination,” Kirk Varnedoe writes in the exhibition catalogue. “The shaded, curving volumes of the Bather are closely tied to Picasso’s experiments with translating nascent Cubism into sculpture in 1909 (as in the bronze Head of 1909, already in the Museum’s collection), in the same way that the massive, boldly illuminated bulk of the Woman Dressing Her Hair recalls the artist’s return to modeled sculpture earlier in the 1930s.”
Among the many highlights of the exhibition are Vasily Kandinsky’s Picture with an Archer (1909), his large and radiant exultation of nature, and Alberto Giacometti’s spidery Hands Holding the Void (1934–35), one of the more haunting icons of Surrealist sculpture. Henri Matisse’s charged and vivid Landscape at Collioure (1905) makes a wonderful counterpoint to his exuberant Still Life with Aubergines (1911), painted in the same Mediterranean vacation village six years later.
Other artists in the exhibition include Georges Braque, Edgar Degas, André Derain, Aristide Maillol, Claude Monet, Henry Moore, Odilon Redon, Auguste Rodin, Georges-Pierre Seurat, Edward Steichen, Jacques Villon, and Maurice de Vlaminck.
In 1986, in recognition of her great generosity, the Museum created the Louise Reinhardt Smith Gallery within the painting and sculpture collection. Since then, the gallery has showcased Kandinsky’s series The Four Seasons, and it is expected that it will one day also hold the magnificent Picture with an Archer.
Mrs. Smith’s longstanding association with The Museum of Modern Art began in 1957 when she joined the International Council. Elected to the Museum’s Board of Trustees in 1965, Mrs. Smith has served on Committees for Painting and Sculpture, Film, and Drawings, among others. In 1993 she was elected a Life Trustee.
Born in 1908 in Dallas, Texas, Mrs. Smith attended Washington University, College of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, and obtained her BA degree from New York University in 1964. A professional writer for many years, Mrs. Smith won the O. Henry Memorial Award in 1945.
Organized by Kirk Varnedoe, Chief Curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture.