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Pierre Matisse, an Art Dealer in New York

Curated by:
Claudine Grammont

Hosting a large exhibition devoted to Pierre Matisse, the Musée Matisse revisits the exceptional career of Henri Matisse’s youngest son, a New York art dealer and a key figure of the 20th century art world.

For about sixty years, the Pierre Matisse Gallery played a prominent role in the art world: it tirelessly championed French and European modern art in the United States during a key period which saw the formation of major private and institutional American collections. The 300 or so exhibitions organised at the gallery allowed a generation of European artists to gain visibility and take part in the New York art scene.

Pierre Matisse applied himself to build his artists’ reputation and promote the American careers of major figures represented by the gallery: Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Alexander Calder, Balthus, Alberto Giacometti, Jean Dubuffet and Marc Chagall to name but a few. He supported individuals rather than movements like fauvism, cubism, surrealism or the School of Paris. Without claiming to be exhaustive, the exhibition Pierre Matisse, an Art Dealer in New York retraces this odyssey through the presentation of seventy artworks by twenty-three key artists of the gallery.

As underlined by Balthus, Pierre “saw things as a painter’s son”. The exhibition puts strong emphasis on the gallery’s publications as they testify to Pierre’s remarkable creative skill at designing these sometimes modest yet original publications. It also shows, through numerous installation views of the gallery that he curated and hung his exhibitions with great care too.

These two themes which are documented by a wealth of images of the gallery’s publications and exhibits are central to both the exhibition and the catalogue. The latter, published by Bernard Chauveau, brings together essays by Serena Bucalo-Mussely, Catherine Dossin, Fabrice Flahutez, Jack Flam, Claudine Grammont, Marianne Jakobi and Johanne Lindskog.

The exhibition includes major loans from the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation (New York), the Ezra and David Nahmad collection and private collections. 15 masterpieces, donated in lieu of inheritance tax by Pierre Matisse’s heirs to the French state in 1991 and kept in the Musée national d’art moderne’s collection, have been generously loaned to the Musée Matisse, paving the way for a multiyear partnership agreement signed by the City of Nice and the Centre Georges Pompidou.

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