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A Passion for Modernism: Deutsche Bank Sponsors Matisse Show at the Jewish Museum

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A Passion for Modernism
Deutsche Bank Sponsors Matisse Show at the Jewish Museum


It’s considered to be the most important Matisse collection in the world—beginning in 1905, the Baltimore-born sisters Claribel and Etta Cone purchased more than 500 of the French artist’s works. But Gauguin, van Gogh, and Picasso also counted among their favorites. Now, a major exhibition in New York celebrates their collection. The opulent show at the Jewish Museum is sponsored by Deutsche Bank.


Henri Matisse called them "my two Baltimore ladies." Their friend Gertrude Stein wrote a poem about them entitled Two Women. Claribel (1864-1929) and Etta Cone (1870-1949) belonged to the cultural elite—well beyond their native city of Baltimore. The two daughters of a wealthy textile manufacturer with a German-Jewish background were among the most important advocates of the European avant-garde in the United States. Many years before the famous Armory Show, which in 1913 introduced modernism to the US, they were already purchasing the works of artists like Matisse and Picasso.

A visit to Henri Matisse’s studio marked the beginning of a lifelong passion: with their purchase of a group of drawings, Claribel and Etta Cone laid the cornerstone for what is probably the most important Matisse collection in the world—one that would eventually encompass around 500 paintings, drawings, and prints. The wealthy sisters from Baltimore also purchased works by other important protagonists of Modernism, including around 100 of Picasso’s early drawings and prints. In keeping with the style of their time, they combined works by Cézanne, Gauguin or van Gogh in their apartments with textiles and handicraft from Europe, Asia, and Africa. After the sisters died, the works were given to the art museum of their native city Baltimore. Now, Collecting Matisse and Modern Masters brings the collection of Claribel and Etta Cone to life again.

The exhibition presents iconic paintings by Matisse such as Standing Odalisque Reflected in a Mirror (1923) and Large Reclining Nude (1935), as well as works by his predecessors and contemporaries. Picasso is present with the painting Woman with Bangs (1902) from the Blue Period. Shown alongside Gaugin’s masterpiece Vahine no te vi (Woman of the Mango), painted in 1892 on Tahiti, are paintings by Courbet, Eugène Delacroix, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and van Gogh. The show at the Jewish Museum, sponsored by Deutsche Bank, presents selected highlights and photographs of archive material as well as a virtual tour through the sisters’ apartments. It visualizes the life of Claribel and Etta in the midst of their precious paintings, sculptures, and objects. Thus, the show not only opens up a panorama of early modernism—it also sheds light on an exciting chapter in the history of collection and reception.
A.D.

Collecting Matisse and Modern Masters: The Cone Sisters of Baltimore
5/6 – 9/25/2011
Jewish Museum, New York




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