Exhibition - Sidney Mishkin Gallery

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Mercedes Matter:
A Retrospective Exhibition

October 30 – December 14, 2009

Mercedes Matter: A Retrospective Exhibition

Mercedes Matter
Still Life with Skulls,
c. 1978 - 1998

Charcoal on canvas, 40 x 44"
Private Collection, New York
Ellen G. Landau, Curator

A key figure in the vibrant New York City art world of the 1940s and 50s, Mercedes Matter grew up surrounded by creative people. The daughter of well known Philadelphia artist Arthur B. Carles, she spent part of her childhood in Europe, living in the photographer Edward Steichen’s villa near Paris. By the age of nine she was already an accomplished painter in oils and her later friendships and marriage all reinforced her affinity with the painters and sculptors who defined modernism in the middle years of the 20th century.

This retrospective of Mercedes Matter’s paintings and drawings includes three of her earliest works. Two were completed at age nine, and one at age 15. In all, her rarely seen work spans seven decades from the 1930s to the 1990s. Mercedes Matter: A Retrospective Exhibition will be at the Baruch College Mishkin Gallery from October 30 – December 14, 2009. Opening Reception Thursday, October 29, 6 - 8 pm. This exhibition, curated by Ellen G. Landau, marks the opening of what will be a national traveling show.

Best known today as the founder of the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture, Mercedes Matter was a constant presence on the New York art scene. She frequented the Cedar Bar as well as the Artists’ Club, both congenial gathering spots for some of the giants of Abstract Expressionism. Matter wrote about art and artists, she taught art both in Philadelphia and New York, and she painted throughout her life. Her own work melded abstract and representational elements in a way that was uniquely her own. She did some of her most powerful studies in black-and-white charcoal drawings, several of them (Charcoal Still Life circa 1936-’37; Still Life with Skulls circa 1996-2000) included in this exhibition. Her oil paintings, in contrast, are a profusion of color, some blunt and forceful, others delicate and evocative.

A student of Hans Hofmann in the 1930s, Mercedes Matter was profoundly influenced by this man who mentored any number of Abstract Expressionists. From Hofmann, she acquired a lifelong passion for drawing and for still life. Many of the pieces in this retrospective are still lifes, sometimes with added elements (fish, eyes, skulls). In the 1950s and ’60s, as Matter’s paintings became increasingly abstract, she continued to use bold and varied colors to suggest seasons, locales and subject matter.

A comprehensive catalogue of Matter’s work accompanies this exhibition and will be on sale at the gallery.

Opening Reception:
Thursday, October 29, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

The Sidney Mishkin Gallery is located at:
Baruch College
135 East 22nd Street
New York City

Gallery hours are:
Monday – Friday, 12 noon – 5 p.m.
Thursdays, 12 noon – 7 p.m.
All exhibitions at the gallery are free and open to the public.

© 2009 Sidney Mishkin Gallery, Baruch College


Sandra Kraskin - Curator
Gallery (646) 660-6652

Manny Romero - Director of Public Relations
(646) 660-6141

Mercedes Sanchez

(646) 660-6112

The City University of New York