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Femme et oiseaux is the eighth from a series of twenty-three extraordinary works collectively known as Constellations which Miró created between January 1940 and September 1941 and which are now widely considered as the masterpieces of his prolific œuvre. Writing to his New York dealer Pierre Matisse on 4th February 1940 about this group of works Miró confided: 'I am now working on a series of 15 to 20 paintings in tempera and oil, dimensions 38 x 46, which has become very important. I feel that it is one of the most important things I have done, and even though the formats are small, they give the impression of large frescoes. With this series... you could do a very, very fine exhibition. I am planning to work on these paintings, using a very elaborate technique, for about 3 months - making allowance for the fact that fortunately, they will lead me to conceive of other works which I will prepare at the same time.... With the series of 38 x 46 canvases [sic.] I am working on now, I can't even send you the finished ones, since I must have them all in front of me the whole time - to maintain the momentum and the mental state I need in order to do the entire group'

Joan Miró, Femme et oiseaux (Woman and Bird), 1940
Gouache and oil wash on paper
38 x 46 cm. (15 x 18 1/8 in.)
©Helly Nahmad Gallery NY

Pierre Matisse, an Art Dealer in New York
June 11 - September 30, 2021

The Nahmad Collection is pleased to contribute to the exhibition Pierre Matisse, an Art Dealer in New York held at Matisse Museum in Nice, France.
Hosting a large exhibition devoted to Pierre Matisse, the Matisse Museum revisits the exceptional career of Henri Matisse’s youngest son, a New York art dealer and a key figure of the 20th century art world.

For about sixty years, the Pierre Matisse Gallery played a prominent role in the art world: it tirelessly championed French and European modern art in the United States during a key period which saw the formation of major private and institutional American collections. The 300 or so exhibitions organised at the gallery allowed a generation of European artists to gain visibility and take part in the New York art scene.

Pierre Matisse applied himself to build his artists’ reputation and promote the American careers of major figures represented by the gallery: Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Alexander Calder, Balthus, Alberto Giacometti, Jean Dubuffet and Marc Chagall to name but a few. He supported individuals rather than movements like fauvism, cubism, surrealism or the School of Paris. Without claiming to be exhaustive, the exhibition Pierre Matisse, an Art Dealer in New York retraces this odyssey through the presentation of seventy artworks by twenty-three key artists of the gallery.

As underlined by Balthus, Pierre “saw things as a painter’s son”. The exhibition puts strong emphasis on the gallery’s publications as they testify to Pierre’s remarkable creative skill at designing these sometimes modest yet original publications. It also shows, through numerous installation views of the gallery that he curated and hung his exhibitions with great care too.

These two themes which are documented by a wealth of images of the gallery’s publications and exhibits are central to both the exhibition and the catalogue. The latter, published by Bernard Chauveau, brings together essays by Serena Bucalo-Mussely, Catherine Dossin, Fabrice Flahutez, Jack Flam, Claudine Grammont, Marianne Jakobi and Johanne Lindskog.

The exhibition includes major loans from the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation (New York), the Ezra and David Nahmad collection and private collections. 15 masterpieces, donated in lieu of inheritance tax by Pierre Matisse’s heirs to the French state in 1991 and kept in the Musée national d’art moderne’s collection, have been generously loaned to the Musée Matisse, paving the way for a multiyear partnership agreement signed by the City of Nice and the Centre Georges Pompidou.