Edith began to collect Modern Art in the early 1960s with her first acquisition a Wassily Kandinsky painting she hung in the Blue Room. She soon sought the guidance of her friend, artist Lillian Florsheim, and son-in-law, Thomas B. Hess, a respected art scholar, to help develop her collection.
On an art excursions to Denise Rene’s Parisian gallery, Florsheim introduced Edith to artist Victor Vasarely. The Longue Vue collection contains many works by Vasarely, a testament to the friendship that he and Edith Stern enjoyed and an indication of the personal nature of this collection. Edith’s love of art and this collection is also about the act of creating more than who created. As can be seen in the room where the work of her grandchildren hangs beside the work of more known individuals.
The collection is composed of a variety of artists working in early 20th century especially works in the Op and Kinetic styles. Among the modern artists represented here are Jaacov Agam, Jean Arp, Naum Gabo, Barbara Hepworth, Robert Michel, Pablo Picasso, Jésus Soto and Victory Vasarely. Local artist Lin Emery’s aquamobile Arabesque can be seen in the Spanish Court. As Edith’s interest in art grew so she incorporated it into her philanthropic work, becoming a trustee at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Throughout her tenure she gave funding for an auditorium and over ninety-five works of art to the museum.
Edith asked the Platts, the home’s architects, to re-design a room to help showcase her growing collection and in 1964 the original open air porch on the east side of the home was turned into the Modern Art Gallery. Black floor tiles, white silk wall covering, modern light fixtures and air conditioning were added at this time. In her later years, Edith liked to serve café brûlot in this room after dinner instead of the Drawing Room.