Helena Rubinstein: Beauty Is Power


Opening at Boca Raton Museum of Art April 21

BOCA RATON, FL (March 25, 2015) – Helena Rubinstein: Beauty Is Power is organized by The Jewish Museum, New York and opens to the public on April 21, 2015 at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, 501 Plaza Real, Boca Raton, FL. This exhibition is made possible by The Jerome L. Green Foundation. Programming and events schedule is available at www.bocamuseum.org. The name Helena Rubinstein conjures up elegant images of international beauty salons and fabulously packaged cosmetics that rivaled Estée Lauder and Elizabeth Arden. Madame, as she was known, changed the way women envisioned themselves and empowered women to define and assert their individuality beginning in the early twentieth century. This is just a dab of blush compared to the depth and breadth of Rubinstein’s accomplishments including visionary art collector, entrepreneur, and one of the first female self-made magnates. Rubinstein’s lush, inspiring story comes to life – and to Boca Raton via The Jewish Museum in New York City — in the varied and significant exhibition, Helena Rubinstein: Beauty Is Power organized by Mason Klein. According to Mason Klein, “Helena Rubinstein: Beauty Is Power explores how Madame helped break down the status quo of taste by blurring boundaries between commerce, art, fashion, beauty, and design.” The exhibition includes works of art, photographs, and ephemera which reveal how Rubinstein’s unique style and pioneering approaches to business challenged conservative taste and heralded a modern notion of beauty, democratized and accessible to all. Rubinstein’s famed art collection was dispersed at auction in 199. Art from this collection are reunited for the exhibition including by Pablo Picasso, Elie Nadelman, Joan Miró and Henri Matisse, along with works from her peerless collection of African and Oceanic art. She was stellar at selfpromotion and commissioned her portrait by leadings artists of the day including Marie Laurencin and Andy Warhol. Picasso, one of Rubinstein’s favorite artists, completed a suite of drawings of Madame in 1955 12 of which will be on view. Madame was known for her volatile moods and these are well-depicted in Warhol’s drawings along with her finery, jewelry, and famous chignon, all set off by her imperious manner and bearing. Rubinstein adorned herself with exquisite jewelry and clothing designed by renowned couturiers, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Elsa Schiaparelli, and Paul Poiret, this is depicted in images throughout the show along with her embellishments of luscious pins, bracelets and other jewels. The exhibition’s title arrives from one of Rubinstein’s early advertisements that touted ‘Beauty Is Power’ as its slogan in 1904, showcasing Rubinstein’s distinctive brand of commercial savvy and inherent feminism. Vintage advertisements, cosmetics products, and promotional items from her business are part of the exhibition. Rubinstein amassed an acclaimed collection of African and Oceanic art of the early twentieth century. She perceived this as “high art” before it was commonplace to do so, displaying these sculptures in her homes and beauty salons. The collection shows off Madame’s interest in a broad range of cultures and traditions along with variety of form. Among the works on view in this section are a nineteenth century Fang Mask from Gabon, an Agni funerary figure, and sublimely carved male and female wood combs from the Ivory Coast. According to Klein, “the repetition of faces and masks is a leitmotif in Rubinstein’s collecting, with its emphasis on portraits and heads, as well as in her advertising imagery.” Chaja, as she was originally named, was born in Krakow in 1872. She renamed herself Helena after the great beauty of ancient myth and began breaking barriers at a young age. She fled the traditionally arranged marriage common along eastern European Jews in the 1800s and 1900s and arrived in Australia in 1896 by way of Vienna where she established her first business, Helena Rubinstein & Co, producing skin creams. “At the turn of the century the use of cosmetics – associated with the painted faces of actresses and prostitutes – was widely frowned upon by the middle class. A model of independence, Rubinstein rejected this, producing and marketing the means for ordinary women to transform themselves. Her business challenged the myth of beauty and taste as inborn, or something to which only the wealthy were entitled. By encouraging women to define themselves as self- expressive individuals, Rubinstein contributed to their empowerment,” says Klein. Exhibition Related Programming: The Museum will host a Tea & Talk event at 2:00 PM on Friday, April 17, 2015, entitled The Life and Times of Helena Rubinstein. Following a 2:00 PM tea time, a lecture will be presented by art historian Marlene Strauss at Saks Fifth Avenue, 5800 Glades Road, Second Floor, Boca Raton, FL 33431. Tickets are $75 for members and $95 for non-members. To RSVP please call 561-392-2500, ext. 213 or email barango@bocamuseum.org. Beauty Night by Saks Fifth Avenue from 5:30 to 8:00 PM will be held on April 30, May 28 and June 25, 2015 at the Museum. Complimentary makeovers at a beauty bar by Saks Fifth Avenue will be offered along with raffles, music, and light refreshments free with admission. The Boca Raton Museum of Art School will hold a Fashion Week workshop for students inspired by the work of renowned whimsical shoe designer, Sophia Webster. On May 7, 2015, Saks Fifth Avenue and the Museum will host a benefit for the Art School Scholarship Fund from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Boca Raton Museum of Art. Tickets are $40 for members and $50 for non-members. The Power & the Glory, a 2007 documentary of entrepreneurs Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein, global rivals and cultural icons who created an industry and permanently altered the way we view ourselves will be screened on Sunday, June 14, 2015 from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. Free with price of museum admission. The exhibition and its related programs at the Boca Raton Museum of Art are made possible through the generous support of Dr. Nicole Edeiken, Peg Anderson Greenspon, and Saks Fifth Avenue. An extensive list of programming and events at The Boca Raton Museum of Art is available online at www.bocamuseum.org.