The Pierre Matisse Gallery was located in New York and named after its founder, the younger son of the artist Henri Matisse. It specialized in modern and contemporary European and American art.
Pierre Matisse (1900–1989) began his career as a dealer in 1923 at the Galerie Barbazanges-Hodebert in Paris. He first came to New York in December 1924, where he was introduced to the local art world by the artist, critic, and art historian Walter Pach. Initially Matisse sold prints and drawings through the Weyhe Gallery, and then worked in partnership with the art dealer Valentine Dudensing at the Valentine Gallery. His focused on artists active in France, including his father.
In November 1931 Matisse opened his own establishment in the Fuller Building at 41 East 57th Street with a group show that featured European modernists, including Georges Braque, André Derain, Raoul Dufy, Jean Lurçat, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Georges Rouault, and Henri Rousseau. The gallery grew in prestige over the next five decades, mounting numerous important exhibitions, including Artists in Exile (March 3–28, 1942), which brought together fourteen prominent European artists who were living in exile in New York as a result of World War II. Among them were Fernand Léger, Jacques Lipchitz, and Amédée Ozenfant.
Matisse represented a diverse group of European and American artists, most of whom were associated with Surrealism: Balthus, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Jean Dubuffet, Sam Francis, Alberto Giacometti, Loren MacIver, Joan Miró, and Yves Tanguy. His client roster featured important collectors such as Walter P. Chrysler Jr., A. E. Gallatin, Joseph Hirshhorn, Duncan Phillips, Joseph Pulitzer Jr., Nelson A. Rockefeller, and James Thrall Soby, as well as major museums around the country.
The gallery’s last exhibition, a one-man show dedicated to Jean-Paul Riopelle, was held in April–May 1989. Upon Matisse’s death, the gallery’s stock was purchased by Acquavella Galleries and Sotheby’s, and in 1993 its archives were donated to the Pierpont Morgan Library (know the Morgan Library and Museum). In 2002, much of Matisse’s personal collection was given to the Metropolitan Museum by the Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Foundation.
For more information, see
Rewald, Sabine and Magdalena Dabrowski. The American Matisse. The Dealer, His Artists, His Collection. The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection
. Exh. cat. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009.
Griswald, William, Jennifer Tonkovich, Alessandra Carnielli, and Margaret Loudon. Pierre Matisse and His Artists. Exh. cat. New York: The Pierpont Morgan Library, 2002.
The Pierre Matisse Gallery archives are housed at The Morgan Library & Museum, New York. The finding aid for the archives is available online.