Magnificent Obsession ~ Passion, Fashion and Collection:

A Major Fashion Retrospective at the Leiber Collection

Magnificent Obsession is an entirely new and exciting exhibition at the Leiber Collection in Springs that will be celebrated with a gala opening on May 27. The exhibition includes a varied collection of artful Judith Leiber handbags that have been loaned by three prominent collectors of Judith Leiber handbags. They are Kelly Ellman of Paradise Valley, Arizona; Susan Morrow of Montecito, California; and Saini Kannan of Irvine, California. Their collections have not previously been exhibited as part of the Leiber Collection.

To accompany that dazzling display of artful handbags are paintings, drawings, and prints by critically acclaimed modernist artist Gerson Leiber that depict the world of fashionistas and runway-show habitués during the 1970, 1980s, and 1990s. His depictions have a Daumier-like satirical quality that adds a deliciously piquant tang to the exhibition.

There are no other exhibitions that so attractively combine such sharply conceived aesthetics of fashion and art. Indeed, the combined exhibition of works by Judith and Gerson Leiber makes manifest the words of critics who have referred to the two indomitable husband and wife creators as a “dynamic artistic duo,” whose works span the length of their 71-year-old marriage; it is a partnership that has not only comprised shared aesthetic principles, but also a profound sense of the responsibilities of artists. Theirs is a marriage of true minds.

As the catalogue copy for the exhibition declares, “visitors who view the array of crouching tigers and totem-like turtles and Valentine hearts and elephant’s heads and Hollywood signs under the exhibition lights” [will witness] an exhibition that is nothing short of a Magnificent Obsession.
“Behind and surrounding the accessories… are the party people depicted in the fashion-world paintings, drawings, and prints of Gerson Leiber, which invest these pristine objects with a living spirit. The ghosts of Seventh Avenue in the 1970s,1980s, and 1990s rise to gawk, talk, and observe, as patrons move through the cool, quiet show space.”

Judith’s handbags have been declared objets d’art by Geoffrey Beene; and in the New York Times, Hilton Kramer, the paper’s former premier art critic, praised Gerson for his mastery and skill of composition and color. Harold Koda, curator in charge of the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, wrote: “…there is a beautiful resonance of aesthetic interests between Judith and Gerson, especially in their mutual love of brilliant color and rigorous structure.”

Judith Leiber has designed handbags for nearly all the First Ladies from 1953 onward as well as for Academy Award, Grammy award, and Emmy award nominees. Her handbags are considered such unique works of art that 80 bags are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and many others are in the Corcoran Galleries, The Victoria and Albert Museum, and numerous regional museums around the United States. Currently, there is a major retrospective exhibition of her handbags at the Museum of Art and Design in New York City that has received rave reviews by leading newspapers and magazines.

The paintings, drawings, etchings, and lithographs of Judith’s husband, modernist artist Gerson Leiber, are also in many museums, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum, The Boston Museum of Fine Arts, The Philadelphia Museum of Fine Art, and many more. There is a joint exhibition of the works of Gerson and Judith Leiber at the Long Island Museum (a Smithsonian affiliate) in Stony Brook. That, too, has received rave reviews.

And now that the summer has officially commenced, thousands of people will come to East Hampton and visit the Leiber Collection as their point of destination. They come from virtually every state in the Union as well as from several European, South American, and Asian countries. The museum has proven to be one of the cultural monuments of East Hampton and has been praised by newspaper and magazine reporters as well as by United States Senators Gillibrand and Schumer.

The Leiber Collection sits amidst seven acres of gardens, each one individually designed by Gerson Leiber. It is all open free-of-charge to visitors every Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday from Memorial Day to Labor Day from 1 PM to 4 PM. It is located at 446 Old Stone Highway, Springs, East Hampton, NY. The website is

Contact: Jeffrey Sussman

Jeffrey Sussman, Inc.
Marketing Public Relations
249 East 48 Street
New York, NY 10017

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