Pierre Matisse arrived in New York shortly before Christmas 1924
determined to make his mark. At that time, the New York art world
was in its formative stages, entirely different from what it was to
become by the close of the 20th century. He was to play a
significant role in its establishment. In 1925, the time of his
first exhibition, which featured lithographs and drawings by his
father, Henri Matisse, there were few galleries and no museums
exhibiting contemporary art. In October 1931, the Pierre Matisse
Gallery opened its doors in the Fuller building on 57th Street,
just around the corner from the provisional headquarters of the
recently instituted Museum of Modern Art. In addition to shows
featuring works by such established artists as Giorgio de Chirico,
Andre Derain, Pablo Picasso, Georges Rouault, and, of course, the
elder Matisse, numerous exhibitions at the Pierre Matisse Gallery
were focused around the works of younger, less-known figures,
including Joan Miro, Balthus, Alberto Giacometti, and Jean
Dubuffet. Pierre Matisse not only played a major role in
introducing American audiences to the works of Marc Chagall, Yves
Tanguy, Roberto Matta, Wilfredo Lam, Reg Butler, Raymond Mason,
Jean-Paul Riopelle, Francois Rouan, Zao Wou-ki, Manolo Millares,
Manuel Rivera, and Antonio Saura but also fostered their critical
and popular appreciation. American artists whose work he championed
included Alexander Calder, Theodore Roszak, Sam Francis, and Loren
MacIver. By the time of his death in 1989, Pierre Matisse had been
instrumental in the creation of a community that encompassed not
only the leading artists of the 20th century but also an impressive
roster of distinguished collectors and institutions. The degree to
which he enriched the artistic climate of his adopted country
cannot be overestimated. This publication documents many of the
outstanding works exhibited at the Pierre Matisse Gallery and -
drawing upon the Pierre Matisse Gallery Archives, given to the
Morgan Library in 1997 - chronicles, through photographs,
correspondence, and ephemera, the history of one of the most
significant venues of 20th-century art.
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