Advanced Search

Matter, Mercedes.

ARCHIVE: Correspondence, photographs, and printed matter.


Mercedes Matter
correspondence, photographs, and printed matter
Mercedes Matter was a central figure in the creation and expansion of American modernist painting, in particular Abstract Expressionism. The daughter of Philadelphia-based artist Arthur B. Carles, Matter studied first under his tutelage, and later under Lu Duble, Maurice Sterne, Alexander Archipenko, and Hans Hofmann. She was an original member of American Abstract Artists, worked for the Works Progress Administration, and assisted Fernand Léger on his murals for both the French Line passenger ship company and a private client. It was through Léger that she met her future husband, Swiss graphic designer and photographer Herbert Matter, whom she married in 1939.
The Matters were highly active in the emerging mid-century New York art scene, and close friends included Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Franz Kline, Philip Guston, Alexander Calder, and, in particular, Willem and Elaine de Kooning. Matter herself was a member of The Eight Street Club, a group of Abstract Expressionist artists - among them Pollock, de Kooning, Kline, Ad Reinhardt, and Mark Rothko - which regularly and famously met at the Cedar Tavern in New York. She taught at the Philadelphia College of Art, Pratt Institute, and New York University for many years, and in 1964 founded the New York Studio School, which promoted the practice of drawing from life. Early teachers included the Guston, Bradley Walker Tomlin, Sidney Geist, and Meyer Schapiro.
For many years the Matters lived in New York City, but moved full time to the East End of Long Island in the early 1980s, an area they had frequented during the summer for over 30 years. Herbert Matter died 1984, and afterward Matter devoted herself to the publication of his photographic book on Giacometti, for which she wrote the text; it was eventually published in 1987, four years after his death. She remained involved in the development of the Studio School, and continued teaching there, as well as further developing her own work. She died in 2001.
The collection consists of 27 letters, several exhibition invitations and announcement, and a photograph, all pertaining to or about Mercedes Matter and her circle. The letters are both written by her, as well as such seminal modernist figures as Hans Hoffman and John Entenza, with a large number by Willem and Elaine de Kooning.  
I. Letters and Postcards
1. Typed letter signed, "Burgoyne Diller," to "Whom It May Concern"; New York City, March 20, 1939; 4to.; one leaf, recto only; on Works Progress Administration letterhead; two horizontal creases; autograph Works Progress envelope, franked, addressed to "Miss Jeanne Carles"; envelope slit open on top and side, missing flap, with holographic graphite notations on verso.
An official letter from the then-head of the W.P.A. Mural Division, confirming Matter's former employment and work with Fernand Léger, and noting that a series of paintings she had produced
"were very well received by qualified critics."
2. Typed letter signed, "Puntz" and "P," to "Dearest Mercy" [Mercedes Matter]; Chestnut Hill, PA, April 21, 1944; 8vo.; one leaf, both sides; cream paper; one vertical and three horizontal creases; upper right corner bent, with unrepaired tear at foot of vertical crease running through three lines of type, not affecting readability.
A gently scolding letter from Matter's stepmother (stepbrother? stepsister?), nicknamed "Puntz," who humorously complains that "if you can write to: Lee, Sara, Hans, Pollock, and your Mother you could at least write me a post card." (At this time, Matter was living in California.)
She follows with her opinion of Lee Krasner ("I met her a couple of months ago at Sara's and I think she is a darling."), news on their father Arthur's recent exhibition ("…it really is marvelous."), and her comparison of a Herbert Matter photograph of Nehru's nieces in Vogue with another by Louse Dahl-Wolf ("In short I'll take Herbert thank you!"). She closes with a plaintive post-script: "I suppose it is futile to even ask, but please write and soon."
3. Autograph letter, to "Herbert"; n.d. [c. mid-1940s]; 8vo.; four leaves, rectos only; blue ink on yellowed paper; lower right corners creased and bent; light tanning to edges.
The first line of this poignant letter - "I pose my need against hers" - opens Matter's emotional yet composed plea for Herbert to finally end an intense extramarital affair and remain instead with her and their young son, Alex (nicknamed "Pundy"). Matter states:
Though you have thought you were breaking with her and making her suffer - you have spent so much time with her on that basis, and the breaking was only a deepening - a further involving - for you.
For Matter, the lingering ambiguity only created "more fear - more of the anguish I feel when you think of breaking with us." She continues on the second page:
If you think I can take it better - and so do not take so much care of me - I don't know how much more I can take really. I am very worn out by it. All the breakings which have not been breakings.
However, she closes the letter by stating that both her and the other woman's needs "pale when I think of Pundy's," and connects his continuous illnesses to their marital problems: "Why is he so sick - so much. Is there no relation between the uneasiness which obsesses him about us - and that?"
4. Autograph letter signed, "Mercedes," to Herbert Matter; n.d. [c. mid-1940s]; narrow 4to.; two leaves, both sides; blue ink on cream laid paper; one horizontal and two vertical creases; in envelope addressed to "Herbert" in blue ink; torn open at top, front, and side.
This letter reveals a marriage which, while long lasting, was also fraught with many problems. Matter's opening paragraph outlines the rolling emotional character of the relationship:
I am willing to wait very long, with only a hope that you will come back to me really. I understand and cannot resent your feelings, or lack of them. That mine have been reawakened after the long wishing on your part - that is ironic and sad - but I hope to keep them there for you until you want them. In that hope I will live.
Acknowledging the "delicate and fragile" nature of their feelings for each other, Matter pleads that he "not destroy hope by frivolity or laziness," and appears to refer to a past extramarital indiscretion on his part, writing "…do not so forget the past in your present absence of feelings as to carelessly repeat a circumstance which you know to be destructive to those feelings in me. Herbert spare me that." She then entreats him to "think again only of Pundy and what the story of our intimate tragedy has meant to him," and that "the many ties of tender love can never replace the basic reality of the relationship - not happily." Matter's moving conclusion both cautions him and offers a basic mutual framework for going forward:
Herbert - let's be careful. Let's at least not fail in the same ways. There is possibility. We both feel that strongly at times. Please let's love that possibility and take care of it with all that we can do to keep it alive. And tell me whatever I jeopardize it - please tell me.
5. Autograph letter signed, "Mercy," to Mercedes de Cordoba Carles; n.d. [c. late 1940s]; 8vo.; six leaves, rectos only; blue ink on cream paper; two horizontal folds; light tanning to edges.
While Matter's relationship with her father was close, in large part due to their shared artistic interests, that with her mother could be difficult. Mercedes de Cordoba was a renowned beauty, a model who famously sat for several portraits with Edward Steichen. However, her looks - and, as she grew older, her seemingly drastic alterations of them - created problems with her only child:
If I could be separate - emancipated - from you sufficiently to be indifferent to your appearance when it is shocking, then most of my psychological problems would be nonexistent too.
When you let your beauty be apparent, I never fail to rejoice and remark on it. It often takes me by surprise that it is still so absolutely there. But what you do so often - with your not-seeing and driven by the impulse to scream LOOK - it is ghastly, a laceration to me.
The blunt phrasing of the letter is however couched with concern, and Matter acknowledges the suffering her response has had on her mother. While allowing that the "violence of my reactions" would continue, she promises to "modify its manifestation" in front of others. She closes with a brief paragraph about what appears to have been an equally intense debate about her son, Pundy.
6. Typed letter signed, "Elaine," to "Dear Mercedes." New York,  (August 23, 1950); 4to.; one leaf, recto only; autograph notes in black ink at bottom; one horizontal and two vertical folds; decorated with pasted-on silver stars (four missing); franked autograph envelope, addressed to "Mercedes Matter / c/o Mrs. Marian Gripping"; slit open at top edge.
Matter had been close friends with both Willem and Elaine de Kooning for many years, and they corresponded frequently with each other. Matter was staying in Amagansett during August 1950, and had apparently invited de Kooning to come visit her, which the latter enthusiastically agreed to, remarking "It sounds fantastically uncivilized and you sound as though you need protection from certain raving harpies." She mentions several looming writing deadlines in the upcoming weeks, but notes "if it seems to be going smoothly I don't see any reason why I can't sit in the Amagansett sun and write."
After asking about the availability of cheap rooms in the area, and having some fun with the name of the family Matter was staying with ("Gripping is a gripping name and I'd love to have it for a pseudonym, which I think I'm going to adopt shortly…."), she closes with: "Hope this works out so that I can stay with you and start some trouble maybe." Her autograph notes at bottom deal with a future project in Montauk and her reason for including the Gripping's phone number in the mailing address ("Just so you'll know I'm not wantonly eccentric."). De Kooning decorated the letter with numerous silver stars, glued around the margins.
7. Typed letter signed, "John," to Mercedes Matter. Los Angeles, October 23, 1951; 4to.; two leaves, rectos only; on Arts & Architecture letterhead; two horizontal creases; top corners slightly bent, with small stains on second leaf; types Arts & Architecture envelope, franked, addressed to "Mrs. Mercedes Matter"; opened at rear flap, with holographic graphite notations on verso.
John Entenza (1905-1984), was one of the pivotal figures in the growth of American modernism. In 1943, he launched Arts & Architecture magazine, which promoted the emerging modernist architecture of California, as well as the work of Hans Hofmann, Margaret DePatta, George Nakashima, and Charles Eames, among others. In this letter, Entenza was responding to Matter's promotion of both a project she was working on and Elaine de Kooning. While says he has "heard wonderful things about  Herbert's Calder film," and that he hopes to feature it in the magazine ("in any way he would choose to present it"), he states that due to the magazine's limited editorial expenses, they would not be able to pay Mercedes for any articles she might submit. However, he notes "that is should not be too long until I will be able to ask you to do something for us at rates that will justify your trouble."
8. Autograph draft letter signed, "Bill," to Joe Fiore. n.d. [c. early 1950s]; 4to.; one leaf, recto only; blue ink on vellum; two horizontal folds; some minor staining to top left edge, as well as light additional creasing; two small chips within body of letter, not affecting text; numerous emandations throughout, with numerical notations in graphite.
Willem de Kooning begins this draft letter with an apology:
Feel terribly that I didn't answer you. Am in a perpetual state of wonder where I was an hour ago. Forgot all about your letter.
Responding to the implied request in Fiore's letter, he goes on to state that it would be "impossible for him to come," but highly recommends Matter in his stead:
Excellent with students. Best of references she has. Doesn't just look forward to having an easy time, but instead will find pleasure and interest working with the students full time.
If you can, do take her, you can take my word for it.
The graphite notations appear to be enumerating word count, indicating this may have been a draft for a telegram.
9. Typed letter signed, "Willem de Kooning," to "Whom it may concern." n.d. [c. early 1950s]; 4to.; two leaves, rectos only; cream onion skin paper; horizontal and vertical folds, one each; some crumpling along left edge, and light tanning along right; chipping and paper loss to upper right edges, not effecting text; within Hotel Lutethia envelope, annotated "Bill's letter" in black crayon to front.
De Kooning wrote several letters recommending Matter for teaching positions in the early 1950s. This note opens with a commentary on the peculiar position of advocating for artists:
A painter is always busy recommending himself. He is recommending himself continuously for better or for worse. It lies in the nature of art to do so. Any recommendation of others lies in his work as influences. It is self evident.
He then reframes the letter alternatively as an introduction, and states that "to introduce Mrs. Matter is an honor and a great pleasure instead." De Kooning writes about their mutual history, going back to her work with himself and Fernand Leger, and states that "her ideas were in a way more advanced than any of ours." He notes that while "different reasons made her not known enough in the public Art world" - among them a lack of confidence combined with the duties of her marriage - he eloquently argues that this should not preclude her from a teaching position she was well fitted for:
Like myself she cannot hope to fill out the necessary blanks favorably.  She has no degrees nor staggering accomplishments, no long list of museums where she is represented. She had no scrapbook full of literature on herself. All I can say is that she is a wonderful painter and can be equally as good a teacher.
10. Autograph draft letter signed, "de Kooning," to "Whom it may concern." n.d. [c. early 1950s]; 8vo.; four leaves, rectos only; cream onion skin paper; text in graphite; horizontal and vertical folds, one each; some minor edge wear.
A holographic draft of the above typescript letter, with very minor textual differences.
11. Autograph letter signed, "Hans," to "Jeanette" (Mercedes Matter). New York, August 10, 1964;
4to.; one leaf, recto only; black ink on white personal stationery; two horizontal folds; upper right corner lightly bumped; franked autograph stationery envelope, addressed to "Jeanette Matter," sent from Provincetown, MA; envelope opened at top edge.
Matter had met Hofmann when she began taking classes from him at the Art Students League in the early 1930s, at which point she was known as Jeanne Carles. They soon became close friends - as well as, reportedly, lovers - and maintained a close relationship until Hofmann's death in 1966. It was Matter who encouraged Hofmann to paint again after a prolonged period of drawing, and in 1934 he instituted the summer painting retreat that evolved into his Provincetown school, from which he sent this letter. After noting the number of visitors he had recently hosted, including the Harold Rosenbergs, he writes:
I will have some more guests to come and can you not have in the house - but I beg you to be my guest in the house of my neighbor. It would be nice when you would come as long as Fritz is still here. Jean - his wife was just operated - she stays still a month in Provincetown to recover to follow afterward Fritz to Paris.
Let me know your plans. Greetings to Herbert.
12. Typed and autograph letter signed, "E," to "Mercedes." New York, August 15, 1966; 8vo.; one leaf, both sides; typed on recto, red holographic ink on verso; three horizontal folds; franked autograph envelope, addressed in two colored inks to "Mercedes Matter"; envelope opened at rear flap.
At the time of this letter, Matter had moved to Maine after experiencing debilitating lung problems in New York. Elaine reveals that Matter's lung problems were the result of emphysema, for which de Kooning states she was "much more likely with my heavy smoking and constant coughing"; in fact, she goes on to doubt the diagnoses based partly on that fact. She also entreats Matter to consider some other place than Maine to recuperate, and suggests some physical exercises that could ease her breathing.
A poignant section of the letter deals with the death of the poet Frank O'Hara:
I've been feeling rather suffocated myself ever since seeing Frank the day he died. Bill and I drove down to the hospital in a forsaken little town called Mastic and were given all the grim details by two of the five doctors who operated on him. When I walked into his room, he said: Oh, Elaine, how nice. I said: Get better. He said: All right.
Such immense vitality. We were all convinced he would pull through (Larry Rivers, Hoe le Soeur, Kenneth Koch and J.J. were downstairs when Bill and I got out of the elevator) He died seven hours later.
13. Autograph letter signed, "Bill," to Mercedes Matter. East Hampton, NY, [September 23, 1966]; 4to.; two leaves, recto only on first leaf, both sides of the second; blue ink on lined yellow notebook paper; three horizontal folds; franked autograph envelope, addressed to "Mercedes Matter," with both and original mailing address and a forwarding one; return address at upper left; envelope opened at rear flap.
Written just over one month after his wife's letter above, Willem de Kooning notes that at the time he heard of her health issues, he hadn't taken them seriously enough, and while stating that she "will have to take good care of herself," recommends relocating instead to East Hampton, where he had a studio:
Here in the winter, it is really nice here. It isn't it [sic] al [sic] difficult, … time
passes in a pleasant way. (For me it does, anyhow!) If I don't feel to [sic] good sometime[sic], .. it is not because I am stuck here.
I think you will like it, Mercedes! Maybe you can teach here in Southampton College? It will be nice to have you living here.
Come over, and please … you can come on over any time. You will have to find a place. I mean, .. do not worry about banging on my door. I do not want to scare you!!
Prior to this, Matter had primarily spent summers on the East End; it would be almost 15 more years before she made the area her year-round home.
14. Autograph letter signed, "E," to "Dearest Mercedes." [Paris], Friday, June 29 (1974); 8vo.; one leaf, both sides; blue ink on cream paper; one horizontal fold; light overall creasing, with minor bumping to upper right corner and light water stains to lower right corner.
De Kooning writes from Paris, where she had gone to teach a summer painting session for the Studio School. She expresses her pleasure at running into Matter at the airport, and her adventures in securing accommodations in Paris (an adventure aided by Georgio Spaventa). She closes with: "I did what I always do upon arriving in a 'new' city and bought a pair of shoes (green). Red ones in Athens. Yellow ones in Florence. Paris, to me, is the most civilized city I've ever seen."
15. Autograph letter signed, "Elaine," to "Dearest Mercedes." Paris, July 12, 1974; narrow 4to.; three leaves, rectos only; blue ink on lightweight cream paper; one horizontal and two vertical folds; franked autograph Air Mail envelope, addressed to "Mercedes Matter"; slit open at top edge.
During July and August, 1974, de Kooning taught painting at the Studio School's summer session in Paris, along with Nicholas Carrone, Wayne Theibaud, and Georgio Spaventa (whose first name de Kooning spells throughout as "Giorgio"). She writes of her impressions of the city:
Felt deeply at home in Paris from the first minute. I had been told I would find Parisians cold - Not so at all. I adore their reserve and their politesse. The subway a rush hour is a revelation of courtesy and considerateness.
The remainder of the letter deals primarily with Studio School students ("…mostly quite inexperienced but very responsive and intelligent…"), activities ("all went to Rodin's studio today"), monies, a possible tuition reduction for her studio assistant Clay, and a marketing quote Matter had previously asked de Kooning for regarding the Studio School ("…It is the stronghold of drawing as a serious approach to painting and sculpture, and as an end in itself."). She ends the letter asking when Matter and Herbert are coming over, and her wish to travel to Switzerland with them.
16. Autograph letter signed, "Elaine," to "Dearest Mercedes." Paris, July 25, 1974; narrow 4to.; three leaves, rectos only; black ink on cream onion-skin paper; one horizontal and two vertical folds; franked autograph Air Mail envelope, addressed to "Mercedes Matter"; slit open at top edge.
The second letter de Kooning sent Matter from Paris while teaching at the Studio School's summer session in Paris. She references her continuing school activities with Georgio Spaventa, Wayne Theibaud ("The students loved him and he was very clear and stimulating for them"), and Nicholas Carrone ("still not over his jet-lag"); the artistic progression of her assistant Clay ("…is learning what it means and how it feels to be involved with art around the clock"); her travels in Europe ("Belgium gives me claustrophobia"); her impressions of Watergate from afar ("It seems endless, and more and more appalling - if that's possible"); and her many forays through the museums of Paris ("I am tireless about the museums"), as well as her empathy for the Matters' apparent mortgage problems back home. She closes with another paean to her affinity with Paris:
Have been so involved with walking, looking, teaching, studying French, and eating that for the first month since I can remember, I haven't done a bit of reading (except for the news, which doesn't count). I seem to float through time. I know how Odysseus must have felt.
17. Autograph letter signed, "E," to "Dear Mercedes." Madrid, August 30, 1974; narrow 4to.; one leaf, both sides; blue ink on blue onion-skin paper Aerogramme stationery; two horizontal folds; franked on mailing panel, addressed to "Mercedes Matter"; slit open at bottom edge.
Following her teaching duties in Paris, Elaine de Kooning traveled to Madrid with her assistant Clay, from where she sent his letter. The first section deals with the news of the recent death of Audrey Hess, the wife of Art News editor Thomas Hess, who was an early proponent of the work of Willem de Kooning and other Abstract Expressionists, as well as a close confidant of both Elaine and art critic Harold Rosenberg. She writes:
There was much more to Audrey than met the eye - a true, tragic Henry James heroine - excruciatingly aware. …She was truly a great lady. It took me a long time to appreciate Audrey - my loss, not her gain. Sad, sad, sad.
She goes on to relate a strange dream she had before she heard the news, involving both Thomas Hess and Rosenberg at a funeral; however, it was Rosenberg in front, with Hess at the rear.
The end of the letter concerns Matter's request for de Kooning to teach at the Studio School in the fall, which de Kooning agrees to if Matter can accommodate both her other teaching position at Parsons and her studio time in East Hampton. She writes: "As for teaching, as Tom said: Who can say No to Mercedes? Not us. So, sure!"
18. Autograph letter signed, "E," to "Dearest Mercedes." Madrid, August 31, 1974; narrow 4to.; one leaf, both sides; blue ink on blue onion-skin paper Aerogramme stationery; two horizontal folds; franked on mailing panel, addressed to "Mercedes Matter"; torn into two pieces; text intact, with exception of small piece along left margin of second panel, not affecting readability.
A continuation of the letter immediately above. De Kooning remarks on the warm camaraderie during the Studio School's summer session, not only between the instructors, but also with the students: "We all spent much more time with the students than was required - not out of sense of duty but a sense of fun." She proceeds to expand on more of her Parisian experiences, from Fontainebleau and Place des Vosges to the Eiffel Tower and the Samaritaine department store, as well as numerous "insanely cheap restaurants (and insanely expensive ones)." The final line reads:
Found a dream house in Veyelay for $9,000 - three artists could chip in…. We have to talk.
19. Autograph postcard signed, "Elaine," to Mercedes Matter. Paris, August 18, 1975; oblong 8vo.; recto image of the South Rose Window of Notre Dame; verso in blue ink; franked, addressed to "Mercedes Matter" in Bethleham, CT.
Chiding Matter, de Kooning writes, "Still no letter from you. I wrote two!" A prolific and in-demand instructor, de Kooning was then teaching at Parson's summer program in Paris, along with fellow painters Leland Bell, Richard Lindner, and Georgio Spaventa. The end of term was approaching, and she tells of her upcoming trip to Amsterdam, "to wander around and visit museums. …[T]here are two portraits by Hals in Harlem that Bill raved about."
20. Autograph letter signed, "E," to "Dearest Mercedes." Hempstead, NY, April 12 [1978]; 8vo.; one leaf, both sides; red ink on white paper; two horizontal folds; minor creasing to upper right corner; franked autograph envelope, addressed to "Mercedes Matter"; printed return address on rear flap; slit open at top edge.
Elaine de Kooning was traveling extensively during the 1970s; she remarks in this letter, "You wouldn't believe the money I've spent on plane fares this year." She had just returned from a trip through Poland, visiting Warsaw and Krakow, where there was an exhibition of Willem de Kooning and Robert Rauschenberg's work on display. For part of the journey she was accompanied by a young artist she had been corresponding with over the previous year, Justin Norels, who also turned out to be an admirer of Matter's father, the artist Arthur B. Carles; de Kooning writes, "It made me feel there's hope, after all." She was about to leave for Athens, GA, where she was a visiting professor at the University of Georgia (a position she held from 1976-1979), and states that she was looking forward to returning to East Hampton and her "glorious, new studio." De Kooning closes by asking Matter to extend her good wishes to Saul [Steinberg], Hedda [Sterne], and Leland [Bell], whose exhibition openings she would be missing; she notes of Bell, "I like the self-portrait on his announcement very much."
21. Autograph postcard signed, "Elaine," to Mercedes Matter. Venice, July 1978; oblong 8vo.; recto image of Piazza San Marco; verso in blue ink; franked, addressed to "Mercedes Matter" at the New York Studio School.
On her second visit to Venice, Elaine de Kooning wrote that "one can breathe so deeply here," and that Verona was "a lovely surprise" and Assisi "a Joy." She adds: "Don't know when I'll be coming back. For the first time in my life, I bought a one-way Ticket. Feel very at home."
22. Autograph letter signed, "Elaine," to "Dearest Mercedes." East Hampton, NY, June 14, 1979; 8vo.; one leaf, folded; black ink on white personal note card stationery; franked autograph envelope, addressed to "Mercedes Matter"; opened at top edge.
During the late 1970s, Matter was apparently experiencing not only money problems, but also emotional issues, situations the de Koonings actively worked to alleviate:
Enclosed second installment; another thousand follow next month - then a painting to raise some more money to set your mind at ease. It's very important for you to simply turn your back on petty (or major) irritations. They're more damaging than one would think.
Your recovery is a matter of profoundest import to me. I think of you constantly and insist you get well immediately!
23. Autograph letter signed, "Elaine," to "Dearest Mercedes." East Hampton, NY, August 17, 1979; 8vo.; one leaf, folded; black ink on white personal note card stationery.
The follow-up note to the previous entry:
Enclosed find check. Am relieved that you're out of the hospital and out of the school. Your health has to improve with those drains upon it.
Bill wants to give you a little painting to give you as sense of security (and cheer).
24. Autograph draft letter, to Pierre Matisse; n.d. [c. 1985]; 4to.; six leaves, rectos only; black ink on lined yellow notebook paper; corners lightly bumped, with some minor spotting; one horizontal crease on first leaf; numerous holographic emendations throughout; incomplete.
Written around 1985, based on references to the current Reagan administration and Herbert Matter's recent death, Matter informs Matisse that the Studio School was interested in establishing a scholarship in his father Henri's name, and states that "if the idea appeals to you the specifics could be discussed…." She also reveals the upcoming 1987 posthumous publication of Herbert's book on Giacometti, noting "…too late alas! for Herbert and that breaks my heart."
25. Autograph draft letter, to Governor Michael Dukakiss; n.d. [1988]; 8vo.; one leaf, front and back; black ink on plain white paper; upper left corner stained light brown, with small like stain below.
A strongly-worded letter to presidential candidate Michael Dukakis that excoriates the Reagan administration's "crimes of commission and omission" on the most "far reaching and profoundly grave" issue concerning the planet: its ecology. Additionally, Matter admits voting for Jesse Jackson in the New York primary - "not because I consider him prepared for the presidency nor even, perhaps, essentially qualified" but because of his "trenchantly on target" environment stances - and on this basis urges Dukakis to grant him a future cabinet role "he has earned, and deserves." After moving full time to the East End of Long Island, Matter had become very active in environmental causes.
26. Autograph draft. n.d. [c. 1990s]; 4to.; one leaf, recto only; black ink on lined white notebook paper, three-hole punched; numerous emendations in both pen and graphite.
An autobiographic blurb written by Matter, perhaps for a memorial publication on either Elaine or Willem de Kooning, both of whom are mentioned in the first sentence:
When Elaine died in 1989, Bill's condition deteriorated rapidly.
For me it was a great loss. She was my one close friend on the Island. I continue to live the year around in East Hampton, as ghost town as far as the artists' community is concerned. Only the sea remains unchanged.
I continue to teach painting and drawing at the Studio School but my present life is in contrast to the activity and stimulation of the past. It is a life of reflection and focus on my work and the very appropriate time to write my memoir.
27. Typed letter signed, "Jennifer Johnson," to Mercedes Matter. New York, August 8, 1994; 4to.; one leaf, recto only; on Willem de Kooning Foundation letterhead; two horizontal folds; attached with paper clip to 9 photocopied pages; typed Willem de Kooning Foundation envelope, franked, addressed to "Ms. Mercedes Matter"; slit at top edge; rear flap reinforced with two layers of tape.
In the summer of 1994, Matter participated in a panel discussion at Guild Hall in East Hampton. Following the event, Johnson, who was the research manager at the Willem de Kooning Foundation, had mentioned a recent article on de Kooning by Mark Stevens in The New Republic, in which Matter had expressed interest. This letter contains a photocopy of that article, as well as Johnson's offer to assist Matter with any future issues regarding de Kooning's work.
II. Exhibition Announcements
1. 15 Women in Modern Art. New York: Beekman Tower, c. mid-1940s.
5 1/2 x 4 3/8 inches (folded); 5 1/2 x 13 inches (open); one color; text only; on cream onion skin paper.
Two copies of an invitation to a ground-breaking exhibition of fifteen women artists at New York's Beekman Tower Hotel, which included Ruth Bernhard, Anni Albers, Lucienne Bloch, and Mercedes Carles.
2. Exhibition Announcements for Willem and Elaine de Kooning. New York. 1955-2000
Various sizes; most folded brochures; one staple-bound booklet.
A collection of seven exhibition announcements covering over 40 years of the two painters' works.
III. Photographs
1. Photograph of Panel Discussion at the  "Elaine de Kooning: Behind the Brush" Symposium. Huntington, NY: Hecksher Museum, January 20, 1994.
10 x 8 inches; glossy black-and-white print; printed informational labels on verso.
The image features Ibram and Ernestine Lassaw, Edvard Lieber, and Mercedes Matter.

© 2011-2018 Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, Inc. All Rights Reserved.