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Exhibitions/ The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection

The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection

May 18, 2004–June 26, 2005
Exhibitions are free with Museum admission.

Exhibition Overview

The recent gift of more than one hundred works from the Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Foundation are being celebrated in this major exhibition. Collected by New York art dealer Pierre Matisse (1900–1989), the younger son of French painter Henri Matisse, the selection includes paintings, sculpture, and drawings by such icons of twentieth-century art as Matisse, Balthus, Chagall, Derain, Dubuffet, Giacometti, Magritte, Miró, and Tanguy. The exhibition features highlights from the Foundation's gifts together with works previously donated by Mr. and Mrs. Matisse.

The yearlong exhibition is being presented in three consecutive installations. The first will be devoted to Henri Matisse and other painters and sculptors working between 1911 and 1964. The two additional installations—on view September 28, 2004, through January 30, 2005, and February 15 through June 26, 2005, respectively—will add younger artists more recently associated with Pierre Matisse and his gallery. Since works on paper are sensitive to light, the later installations will also offer a different selection of drawings and original prints.

In a career spanning more than sixty years, Pierre Matisse, who established his Manhattan gallery on East 57th Street in 1931, pioneered the advancement of modern art. His gallery showed for the first time in New York several now-legendary artists of the early twentieth century and also introduced several post-World War II artists to collectors and museums in the United States. Pierre and Maria-Gaetana von Spreti (1943–2001) were married in 1974, and in 1995 Mrs. Matisse established the Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Foundation to implement her own and her late husband's philanthropic interests. Mrs. Matisse died in April 2001.

The first installation of the exhibition is organized into three sections. The initial section is devoted to artists working from 1911 through 1964. It includes Chagall's painting The Betrothed (1911); Joan Miró's large canvas This is the color of my dreams, a painted and witty reaction to Surrealist use of the photo image (1925); an early and untitled narrative by Yves Tanguy (oil with string on canvas, 1926); André Derain's The Black Feather Boa (oil on canvas, 1935); Alberto Giacometti's The Apple (1937), one of the artist's few still-life paintings; Balthus' 1938 oil portrait of Pierre Matisse; Leonora Carrington's self-portrait (oil on canvas, 1938); and Wifredo Lam's painting of a jungle goddess with many eyes (1942). Also included in this section are works in bronze by the British sculptors Raymond Mason and Reg Butler, as well as work by the Belgian painter Paul Delvaux.

The second section features a selection from an important group of some fifty works by Henri Matisse. The core of the collection, these include paintings, drawings, sculpture, and original prints dating from 1903, when the artist was thirty-four, through 1952, when he was eighty-three. The four Matisse paintings exhibited are: the intensely colored, pre-Fauve Chapel of Saint Joseph, Saint-Tropez (1904); a shimmering still life, Lilacs (1914); and a and 1916 and a 1918 portrait of Henri Matisse's daughter Marguerite. Works in other media include Matisse's charcoal portrait of the Russian art collector Sergei I. Shchukin (1912); a 1906 bronze Young Girl (Filette debout); a painted ceramic plate Three Bathers (1907); and Blue Nude with Arms Raised (collage of painted and cut papers, 1952).

The third section introduces six artists working after 1943. These works include: the American painter Loren MacIver and the French painter Jean Dubuffet, both closely associated with Pierre Matisse and his gallery; and the Belgian painter René Magritte, who was not.

In the subsequent installations additional and younger artists will be represented: Zao Wou-ki (born 1921), Jean-Paul Riopelle (1923–2002), Manolo Millares (1926–1972), Joan Mitchell (1926–1992), Antonio Saura (1930–1998), Setsuko (born 1942), and François Rouan (born 1943).

Exhibition Objects