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Press release

The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection

Exhibition dates: May 18, 2004 – June 26, 2005
Exhibition location: The Helen and Milton A. Kimmelman Gallery, Lila Acheson Wallace Wing
Press preview: Monday, May 17, 10 a.m. - noon

The recent gift of more than 100 works from the Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Foundation—one of the largest donations made to The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Department of Modern Art—will be celebrated in a major exhibition opening on May 18, 2004. 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 20th-century art as Matisse, Balthus, Chagall, Derain, Dubuffet, Giacometti, Magritte, Miró, and Tanguy. The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection, on view through June 26, 2005, will feature highlights from the Foundation's gifts together with works previously donated by Mr. and Mrs. Matisse.

The year-long exhibition will be presented in two consecutive installations. The first will be devoted to Henri Matisse and other painters and sculptors working between 1911 and 1959. The second installation, opening in January 2005, will add younger artists also associated with Pierre Matisse and his gallery. Since works on paper are sensitive to light, the second installation will also offer a different selection of drawings and original prints.

Philippe de Montebello, Director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, commented: "The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection is both an historic and highly personal one, assembled by an eminent art world figure who formed close friendships with many of the artists whose work he represented and acquired. The collection is also notable for the number of important works by Henri Matisse, bequeathed from father to son. We are extremely grateful to the Foundation for this generous and meaningful gift, which enormously enhances the Metropolitan's collection of modern art."

In a career spanning more than 60 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 20th 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.

William S. Lieberman, Jacques and Natasha Gelman Chairman of Modern Art at the Metropolitan, recalled: "I met Pierre Matisse in 1946, and we first worked together in 1957 when I began to organize a Joan Miró retrospective for the Museum of Modern Art. An eminent and persuasive purveyor of modern and tribal art, what Pierre collected was what he preferred to keep for himself for everyday enjoyment. This very personal selection was handsomely displayed in his townhouse on East 64th Street. Also, by inheritance, he received paintings, bronzes, drawings, and prints by his father. Pierre's favorite modern artists were Balthus, Derain, Dubuffet, Giacometti, Miró, and Tanguy, and with each he developed different but close friendships." Mr. Lieberman adds: "As I prepare the Matisse collection for exhibition and publication, I think that Pierre and Tana would be pleased to see how well their intentions have been realized by the Trustees of their Foundation. Such splendid gifts are rare."

The first installation of ,i>The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection will be organized into three sections. The initial section will be devoted to artists working from 1911 through 1942. It will include 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 Jungle Goddess (1942).

The first installation's second section will feature a selection from an important group of nearly 50 works by Henri Matisse. The core of the collection, these include paintings, drawings, sculpture, and original prints dating from 1903, when the artist was 34, through 1952, when he was 83. The four Matisse paintings exhibited will be: the intensely colored, pre-Fauve Chapel of Saint Joseph, Saint-Tropez (1904); a shimmering still life of Lilacs (1914); a 1916 portrait of Henri Matisse's daughter Marguerite; and a more elegantly posed portrait of her painted two years later. Works in other media include Matisse's charcoal portrait of the Russian art collector Sergei I. Shchukin (1912); a 1903 bronze Young Girl (Fillette); a painted ceramic plate The Bathers (1907); and Blue Nude with Arms Raised (collage of cut and painted papers, 1952).

The first installation's third section will introduce six artists working from 1943 through 1959: the American painter Loren MacIver and the French painter Jean Dubuffet, both closely associated with Pierre Matisse and his gallery; the Belgian painters René Magritte and Paul Delvaux, who were not; and the British sculptors Raymond Mason and Reg Butler, both represented by works in bronze.

In the second installation, opening in January 2005, seven additional and younger artists will be represented: Zao Wou-ki (b. 1921), Jean-Paul Riopelle (1923-2002), Manolo Millares (1926-1972), Joan Mitchell (1926-1992), Antonio Saura (1930-1998), Setsuko (b. 1942), and François Rouan (b. 1943).

The curator of the exhibition is William S. Lieberman, Jacques and Natasha Gelman Chairman of the Department of Modern Art at the Metropolitan and, for many years, a friend of Mr. and Mrs. Matisse.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a Metropolitan Museum Bulletin (featuring highlights from the collection), and later, the Museum will publish a complete catalogue of the collection.

A variety of education programs will be presented in conjunction with the exhibition, including lectures and gallery talks, and the exhibition will be featured on the Museum's Web site (

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