Examining the role of Pierre Matisse in promoting the work of twentieth-century artists in North America, The Morgan Library & Museum presented Pierre Matisse and His Artists. Pierre Matisse, the younger son of the French artist Henri Matisse and his wife Amélie, earned his own place in the art world as one of the most important dealers of modern and contemporary art. The renowned New York gallery he started in 1931 and operated until his death in 1989 exhibited some of the greatest artists of the century, including Balthus, Marc Chagall, Jean Dubuffet, Alberto Giacometti, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Georges Rouault, and Yves Tanguy. Following his death, the Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Foundation was created by his heirs with the purpose of organizing the gallery's records, with a view to their eventual donation to an appropriate library or museum. In 1998 the heirs chose the Morgan as the permanent repository of the voluminous Pierre Matisse Gallery Archives.
Based on that gift, this exhibition documented twentieth-century art in New York. It included major works by all the principal artists whose paintings and sculpture Pierre Matisse exhibited in his Madison Avenue gallery. Through major paintings and sculpture by Balthus, Alexander Calder, Chagall, Dubuffet, Giacometti, Henri Matisse, Roberto Matta, Miró, Tanguy, and others, the exhibition examined some of the greatest artists of the period and gave visitors a glimpse of the very private man who opened American eyes to their work. The exhibition also included a number of pieces of tribal art alongside significant loans from U.S. public and private collections.
Pierre Matisse and His Artists was made possible by The Pierre Matisse Foundation and the Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Foundation.
Major support was provided by the Florence Gould Foundation. Additional assistance was provided by Acquavella Galleries, Leon and Debra Black, Mrs. Alexandre P. Rosenberg, and the Art Dealers Association Foundation, with special support from the Doral Park Avenue Hotel.