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Mercedes Matter

American, 1913-2001


Curating Works


Mercedes Matter was born in New York in 1913 to Philadelphia Modernist, Arthur B. Carles, Mercedes Matter grew up surrounded by art. Throughout her youth, she traveled to France and Italy with her family, where she was especially struck by the works of Giovanni Bellini. She later went on to study sculpture with Lu Duble at Bennett Junior College in Millbrook, NY and with Maurice Sterne and Alexander Archipenko in New York City during her breaks from school. After finishing at Bennett Junior College, Matter began classes at the New York Art Students League with Hans Hofmann, who became a great mentor and friend to Matter. In the late 1930s, Matter became a founding member of the American Abstract Artists group and worked for the WPA with French artist, Fernand Léger. Léger would later introduce Matter to her husband, Swiss photographer and designer, Herbert Matter. The Matters became significant figures in the mid-20th century New York art scene, along with Jackson Pollack, Lee Krasner, Alexander Calder, and the de Koonings. She was also friendly with Alberto Giacometti. Matter was a member of the teaching faculty at the Philadelphia College of Art, the Pratt Institute, and New York University. In 1964, she founded her own school, the New York Studio School of Drawings, Paintings, and Sculpture, after she noticed a lack of studio classes available to students. Her work can be found in the collections of Corcoran Gallery, Whitney, Delaware Museum of Art, and Parrish Museum.