Iris Cantor’s latest transformative gift was announced recently by New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Mrs. Cantor’s generosity will support the construction of a state-of-the-art proscenium theater at the School. The performance space – part of a planned multi-use building on Bleecker Street whose construction is due to start this year – will be named the Iris Cantor Theater. Tisch School of the Arts has been a long-time recipient of philanthropy from the Cantor Family and for the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Foundation.
“Education is the foundation of our intellectual existence, teaching us to challenge convention and push beyond boundaries. The arts remind us of what it means to be human — a mission never more important than it is today,” said Mrs. Cantor. “With this most recent gift to NYU, I hope to reaffirm all the tremendous progress made by the Tisch School of the Arts in its comparatively brief history and position the School for an even brighter future. I’m thrilled to be a part of expanding its operations to create a space where young minds can create, expand, and soar.”
Allyson Green, Dean of Tisch School of the Arts, in announcing the Cantor gift, said “We are so grateful to Iris Cantor. For decades, she has earned a reputation not only for her generosity, but also for her civic and artistic leadership, transforming medical, cultural, and educational institutions throughout New York City and the world and encouraging others to do the same. This gift goes right to the heart of what we most needed as a premiere arts education institution – space for student performances.”
“What distinguishes Iris Cantor is not just her generosity, which is enormous,” said John Sexton, President of NYU. “It is her discernment, her ability to make gifts that really make a difference. With this gift, she bestows on NYU – a school renowned for its performing arts – a proscenium theater performing and training space, which will be part of a new signature building for the University that will serve many needed roles under one roof. We are very grateful to Iris Cantor; this will mean the world to generations of theater students and faculty.”
The new space will enable students in performing arts programs at NYU to learn their craft in a setting with the same possibilities as working professional theaters. It will embrace all manner of current and evolving scenic, lighting, audio, and video technologies. The theater will be part of NYU’s proposed major new facility along Mercer Street between Houston and Bleecker Streets. The whole facility will include classrooms and teaching spaces and will serve students at Tisch as well as at NYU’s Steinhardt School’s Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions.
Dean Green predicted the Iris Cantor Theater will transform the Tisch experience for students in drama, graduate acting, dance, performance studies, and design. The result will more than double Tisch’s current rehearsal space and will make possible more numerous professional grade performances, she said.
Previously Cantor Family and Foundation support for Tisch has included a Cantor Scholarship Fund and the creation of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Film Center.
(Images courtesy NYU Department of Drama. Top: Troilus & Cressida. Bottom: The Wild Party.)
Cantors Receive Exceptional Honor as Paris’ Musée Rodin Names Gallery ‘Hall Iris et B. Gerald Cantor’
Following three years of renovations that ended with five days of anticipatory celebrations, Paris’ beloved Musée Rodin opened to the public on November 12. The restored museum’s days of celebrations honored Iris and B. Gerald Cantor for their six decades of support for the museum, support first initiated by B. Gerald Cantor and then continued by Mrs. Cantor. The museum has commemorated this support by naming the premier gallery of the Hotel Biron “Hall Iris et B. Gerald Cantor,” an exceptional honor rarely given by a French museum.
Iris Cantor was at the Musée Rodin with members of the Foundation Board and many friends to witness the ribbon cutting by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls. M. Valls lauded the Cantors and recognized the two American philanthropists for their extraordinary advocacy not only for the museum but also for a revived legacy for Rodin, who today is recognized as having transformed sculpture into a modern art form.
At a private luncheon in her honor in Hall Cantor, Mrs. Cantor spoke of her commitment to the Musée Rodin:
For all of us who love Rodin and treasure this museum, and have watched the renovations over the past three years, it’s thrilling to see the final result.
The Cantor name is linked to the Musée Rodin through six decades of an enjoyable, productive association that remains, at its heart, a great friendship. The reopening of the Musée brings our journey full circle — ensuring Rodin’s legacy while honoring another: the legacy of my late husband, B. Gerald Cantor.
Bernie was a businessman, a trailblazer in the financial world. But he had another passion: the art of Auguste Rodin. To use Bernie’s own words, Rodin was his magnificent obsession. When we met, I quickly realized that loving Bernie meant loving Rodin as well. As it turned out, they both captured my heart!
For Bernie, being a collector was just the beginning. He had a scholar’s thirst for knowledge. He spent long hours poring over art books with a magnifying glass in his hand. And when he wanted more insight into Rodin’s creative inspiration and production processes – when he wanted to walk in the footsteps of the great artist himself – he came to the Musée Rodin.
Bernie formed a friendship with the museum’s director at that time, Cécile Goldscheider. They didn’t speak each other’s language, but it didn’t matter – they understood each other. Madame Goldscheider often said that Bernie came here to learn. He did learn a great deal from Cécile and her colleagues — but he also shared his own expertise and generosity with them, helping the museum improve its systems and processes. For Bernie these were labors of love, fueled by a desire to preserve the genius of Rodin for all time, while being true to Rodin’s own vision.
As Bernie’s wife, and his partner in promoting the appreciation and study of Rodin, I was privileged not only to observe all of this, but to be a part of it. I loved our many visits to the Musée. What began as a simple friendship evolved into a lasting partnership that I am very proud to continue as the guardian of the Cantor legacy.
I wish that Bernie could be here today, to see the Musée Rodin as beautiful and functional as he envisioned. It’s an extraordinary honor to have the Cantor name on this exhibition hall, near The Hand of God, the Rodin piece that first captivated my husband — changing his life, and mine, in remarkable ways. I hope you know how grateful and proud Bernie would have been, and how much this recognition means to me and my family.
GET YOUR PASSPORTS READY! Rodin Museum in Paris to reopen on November 12 after three years of extensive renovation
With the help of the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, The Musée Rodin, often voted Paris’ most beloved museum, has during the past three years undergone a complete renovation. This work has been the most extensive conducted since Auguste Rodin himself used the eighteenth-century palace more than 100 years ago. The renovation will not only give visitors a better understanding of how the building looked and was used during Rodin’s time, it will also elevate the popular museum’s infrastructure to the high standards of today’s modern museums. In addition, the Musée’s staff is planning a complete re-installation of the artworks, emphasizing Rodin’s working methods.
As Ryan Fisher, Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Cantor Foundation, explains, “The Cantors’ support for the Musée Rodin goes back more than 60 years, to the days when Bernie Cantor became friends with the museum’s then-director, Cécile Goldscheider. That support continues today because of the Musée’s strong leader, Catherine Chevillot, whose friendship with Iris Cantor and the Cantor Foundation is ongoing. Part of this long relationship has always been simple friendship. Part has been a shared desire to encourage scholarship. The largest part has been the feeling that it’s important to preserve Rodin’s art in the way Rodin himself would have. It is no surprise that Iris and the Cantor Foundation are joining with Catherine Chevillot and her inspired team to preserve the integrity of the Musée Rodin for future generations.”
The Foundation’s newest exhibition of Rodin sculpture, Auguste Rodin: The Human Experience, Selections from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Collections, opened July 22 to members of the Honolulu Museum of Art. More than 150 members attended the early evening reception, their opportunity to view the much-anticipated show before it opened to the general public.
The Museum, which looks equally to Asia as well as to the Americas and Europe in its collections, programming, and visitors, provides a unique opportunity to highlight Rodin’s popularity in Japan both during and after his lifetime. Plus the Museum has a cast of one of the artist’s earliest pieces, The Age of Bronze, as well as sculpture by students of Rodin and other artists influenced by him.
On opening day the Museum presented Foundation Director and Exhibition Curator Judith Sobol live for ten minutes on its Periscope; she spoke about the exhibition and fielded questions in real time from viewers. While there Judith also spoke with the Museum’s docents and presented a public program on the creation of Iris and B. Gerald Cantor’s remarkable collection of works by Auguste Rodin. She also explored the artist’s singular achievement in transforming traditional sculpture into modern sculpture and his influence on sculptors working today.
The Honolulu Museum of Art is complementing the Rodin exhibition with specially-guided Touch Tours for the visually impaired, sketching in the gallery, and yoga sessions that explore Rodin’s expressive use of the human body. The show will be there until January 10, 2016.
PHOTOS top left: Foundation Trustees Michele Geller and Suzanne Fisher. Top right: Honolulu Museum of Art member Randy Moore (who with his wife Lynne Johnson is among major supporters of the show) with Rodin’s Monumental Head of Jean d’Aire. Bottom left: Foundation Vice President Ryan Fisher and Honolulu Museum of Art Director Stephan F.F. Jost. Bottom right: Honolulu Museum of Art Board Chair Violet Loo, Foundation Executive Director and Exhibition Curator Judith Sobol, Ryan Fisher, Michele Geller, Suzanne Fisher, Honolulu Museum of Art Curator of European and American Art Theresa Papanikolas. (Photo credit top left and middle horizontal: Ryan Fisher. Other photos: Honolulu Museum of Art/Shuzo Uemoto photographer.)