Albert E. Gallatin Shows His Dark Side

Albert E. Gallatin Shows His Dark Side


Description: Albert E. Gallatin (1881-1952) Gallatin wrote about, collected, exhibited, and created works of art. Called "one of the great figures in early 20th-century American culture," he was a leading proponent of nonobjective and later abstract and particularly Cubist art whose "visionary approach" in both collecting and painting left "an enduring impact on the world of modern art." Gallatin was a collector, art historian, and founder of the first museum gallery devoted exclusively to modern art in the U. S. Gallatin was born to wealth; his great grandfather, Albert Gallatin (1761-1849), had been Secretary of he Treasury of the United States under Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. In 1902 he inherited the family banking and investment fortune, which set him on a career of art collecting and criticism. Showing a youthful interest in art and literature, he began to collect works by Max Beerbohm, Aubrey Beardsley, and James McNeill Whistler while still in his teens. As he collected art, he also began to write about it. For the two decades following the turn of the century, Gallatin produced a constant stream of articles, small monographs, and books of engraved plates. Between 1900 and 1910 most of these concerned Beardsley and Whistler. His interests expanded to modern art during World War I. After the war, he made frequent trips to Paris, beginning in 1921 buy art from the major dealers there. Initially he donated works to the Brooklyn Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1922. These museums, however, avoided the work of American artists. Gallatin actively bought work from the so-called Ash Can School in the United States. He used his position as trustee for New York University to establish the first museum in the U. S. dedicated solely to modern art, the Gallery of Living Art, located in South Study Hall that university. The gallery included works by Picasso, Braque, Gris, and Léger. Gallatin wrote the catalogs, which were issued between 1928 and 1940. In 1926 he co-published with the classicist/collector Joseph Hoppin the first fascicule of the prestigious Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum for a United States collection. Between 1928 and 1933 works by Joan Miro, André Masson, Robert Delaunay, Piet Mondrian, and Jean Arp were added to his gallery, the first to enter a public collection in the U. S. In 1936 Gallatin renamed his museum the "Museum of Living Art" with his purchase of Picasso's Three Musicians (1921). Gallatin ceased his French buying trips in 1938 with the declaration of hostilities with Germany. Instead, he focused on American art. The later abstract expressionists Arshile Gorky and Willem de Kooning attributed their early development to the Museum of Living Art. The University closed the museum in 1943 and Gallatin moved the collection to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, donating it at his death in 1952. Gallatin wrote largely about the art he collected, some of it, for example, the Ash Can School, was little valued at the time he made his purchases. James Johnson Sweeney, later curator of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, praised Gallatin in 1931 for showing the widest range of cubism in America, which the fledging Museum of Modern Art, founded two years after Gallatin's museum by Alfred H. Barr, would spend the next decade amassing a similar collection. Gallatin's space at NYU is today Grey Art Gallery and Study Center. In 1942 Gallatin was referred to as New York's "abstract king" in a profile that appeared in the "Talk of the Town" section of the New Yorker magazine. Offered here is a manuscript letter signed with his nickname "Bertie". He makes a drawing of a man shooting at another man. This was sent to his friend George Page Ely (1879-1967) who was the son-in-law of the noted American artist, Julian Alden Weir; and he was also Trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Not dated, written on Windsor Hotel, Haifa, Palestine stationery. RARE! Provenance: Old Lyme, Connecticut, Estate belonging to descendants of American Impressionist artist Julian Alden Weir. RARE!. (Inventory 29)
Condition Report: Fine
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