Helena Rubenstein at The Jewish Museum


Visit the Helena Rubenstein: Beauty is Power exhibit at the Jewish Museum (on 5th Avenue at 92nd Street), and answer the following questions

1. Give a brief overview and summary of the exhibition.

2. Why do you think the exhibition was titled Beauty is Power?

3. Read Rubenstein’s cosmetic pamphlets in the exhibit and watch the advertisements and other reel clips that are presented. What did Helena Rubenstein think made women beautiful?

4. How were cosmetics and its use seen in society at the time Rubenstein started her business? How did she help change the culture of cosmetic consumption?

5. Consider Rubenstein’s relationship with portraiture. How did it seem she wanted to be portrayed? Consider her presentation in the portraits including clothes, jewelry and makeup. How did she use portraiture to help her business? Did this figure into what type of clientele she was hoping to attract?

6. Describe Rubenstein’s collection of art that she acquired. How did she use this art and her patronage of art to further her business ventures? How do you think her eclectic appreciation of different types of art effected her interfacing with her consumers?

7. What similarities and differences do you find between Helena Rubenstein’s use of art, art appreciation and decorative arts (particularly interiors) and Lipovetsky & Manlow’s description of the use of art in hyperstores (from your previous reading titled The Arterialization of Luxury Stores)

8. Consider the cosmetics industry today, does it differ from the time that Helena Rubenstien was involved in it as a power player? Do they use art and culture in the same way Rubenstein did to promote her business? Pull a few advertisements from modern day fashion magazines, scan them in, and use them to illustrate your points.


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