Exhibition: Herbert Matter – Mercedes, 1940

Mercedes 1940

Dates: October 24 – December 7, 2013
Opening: Thursday, October 24, 6 – 8pm

980 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10075

Higher Pictures presents Mercedes 1940, by Herbert Matter. This is the first New York solo exhibition of Herbert Matter in over a decade.

The exhibition is a selection of fifteen vintage photographs of Mercedes Carles by Herbert Matter, made in the summer before they married. Matter’s intimate portraits of Mercedes are the visual result of a thrilling act by an artist and lover and a dance of seduction with the camera, her energy and allure. Introduced in 1938 by Fernand Léger, the pair became one of the most powerful and influential art world couples of the 20th century throughout their sixty-year marriage. Close friends and associates included Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Fernand Léger, Alexander Calder, Alberto Giacometti, Charles and Ray Eames, Buckminster Fuller and fellow Swiss photographer Robert Frank.

A pioneering figure in photography, Herbert Matter came to the United States in 1935. Matter was inspired by the Russian Constructivists and Man Ray. It is noted that his light drawings anticipated Abstract Expressionism and indeed may have influenced his friend Jackson Pollock. He employed all manner of darkroom techniques to create his photographs, including collage, montage, solarization, reverse printing, retouching, cropping, and re-photographing.

Reticent but much respected, the Swiss-born New York photographer Herbert Matter (1907-1984) was a rare figure who bridged the commercial and fine arts. His wife, Mercedes Matter (1913–2001), the painter, muse and New York School maven was born into the art world. Her mother was Mercedes de Cordoba, who modeled for Edward Steichen and other members of the Photo-Secession; her father was the early American modernist painter Arthur B. Carles.

For further information contact Kim Bourus at 212.249.6100

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The Visual Language Of Herbert Matter

THE VISUAL LANGUAGE OF HERBERT MATTER is a revealing look at the fascinating life story of the highly influential mid-century modern design master. Known as a quintessential designer’s designer, Swiss born Herbert Matter is largely credited with expanding the use of photography as a design tool and bringing the semantics of fine art into the realm of applied arts.

Inspired by Russian constructivists and taught by artists such as Fernand Léger, Le Corbusier, and A.M.Cassandre in Paris in the late 20s, Matter designed a series of cutting-edge Swiss travel posters that won international acclaim for the pioneering use of photo-montage combined with type. Always striking a balance between fine art projects and commercial work, the taciturn designer found his own unique language, which resulted in the creation of such iconic works as the corporate identity for Knoll Associates and the New Haven Railroad. With his photography he was adept in documenting the early furniture of Charles and Ray Eames and creating covers for Vogue and Arts & Architecture as well as documenting his contemporaries Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning or Alberto Giacometti. As a filmmaker, he directed a critically acclaimed film “Works of Calder” about his good friend Alexander Calder, with music composed by John Cage. Later in life he was a professor for photography and graphic design among Paul Rand and Josef Albers at Yale University.

In today’s commercialized and oversaturated world, the documentary directed by Reto Caduff (“Charlie Haden – Rambling Boy”, “A Crude Awakening”) lets luminaries such as Robert Frank, Massimo Vignelli, Alvin Eisenman, Steven Heller, Elaine Lustig Cohen and others explain why Matter still matters. Through never-before-seen footage, personal photography and stunning graphic design work, the film explores the social and cultural impact of his personal visual langauge that influenced a whole generation of designer and artists.


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