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Helena Rubinstein: Beauty is Power

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Helena Rubinstein: Beauty Is Power, the first museum exhibition to explore the ideas, innovations, and enduring influence of the legendary cosmetics entrepreneur Helena Rubinstein (1872-1965). By the time of her death, Rubinstein had risen from humble origins in small-town Jewish Poland to become a global icon—the head of a cosmetics empire extending across four continents. She was the first modern self-made woman magnate, an avatar of female entrepreneurship, and a tastemaker in the worlds of art, fashion, and design. On view through March 22, 2015, the exhibition will explore how Rubinstein—as a businesswoman, arts patron, and one of the leading collectors of African and Oceanic art of her time—helped break down the status quo of taste by blurring boundaries between commerce, art, fashion, beauty, and design. Through works of art, photographs, and ephemera, Helena Rubinstein: Beauty Is Power reveals 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. The exhibition will reunite selections from Rubinstein’s famed art collection, dispersed in 1966, featuring works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Elie Nadelman, and Joan Miró, among others, as well as over thirty works from her peerless collection of African and Oceanic art – one of the most important private collections ever assembled. Other highlights include Madame’s (as she was universally called) beloved miniature period rooms, jewelry, and clothing designed by Cristóbal Balenciaga, Elsa Schiaparelli, and Paul Poiret. Rubinstein’s savvy for self-promotion will on view via portraits she commissioned from leading artists of her time, from Marie Laurencin to Andy Warhol. Also on display will be advertisements, cosmetics products, and promotional materials related to her beauty business.