To Be An Artist Is To Embrace The World In One Kiss

8 October - 24 November 2021

Works by Mercedes and Herbert Matter

Mercedes Matter (1913-2001): Her father, Arthur B. Carles, a pioneering American modernist painter, taught her to paint landscapes in the French countryside when she was 6. As a teenager living in New York, she studied with the influential German expatriate artist Hans Hofmann at the Art Students League. She studied with Hofmann until 1935, before signing on with the Works Progress Administration's Federal Art Project. Matter spent the mid-1930's working for the W.P.A., where she met Lee Krasner (they were arrested for protesting W.P.A. layoffs, and spent a night together in jail) along with the French artist Fernand Léger, with whom Mrs. Matter collaborated on W.P.A. murals. Léger also introduced her to Herbert Matter. They married in 1941 and shared a house and studio with Léger. Later in the 1950’s the Matters’ moved to Newtown Lane in East Hampton where they spent time with close friends like Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Franz Kline, Philip Guston, Alexander Calder and Willem de Kooning. In the second half of her career, Matter also emerged as an outspoken critic of dogmatic arts education and became a national torchbearer for studio-led learning as founder of the influential New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture.


Herbert Matter (1907-1984) was a Swiss-born American photographer and graphic designer known for his pioneering use of photomontage in commercial art. The designer's innovative and experimental work helped shape the vocabulary of 20th-century graphic design. As a photographer, Matter won acclaim for his purely visual approach. A master technician, he used every method available to achieve his vision of light, form and texture. He went to the United States in 1936 and was hired by legendary art director Alexey Brodovitch. Work for Harper's Bazaar, Vogue and other magazines followed. From 1946 to 1966 Matter was design consultant with Knoll Associates working closely with Charles and Ray Eames. 

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