|Above and below, Mercedes Matter photographed by her husband, Herbert, in 1940.|
This episode of notable Tudor City residents profiles painter Mercedes Matter, a player in the New York art scene of the 1940s. Her life, in bullet points:
✫ Born Mercedes Carles in 1913, daughter of an artist and a model. Shows an early interest in art and begins to paint in the abstract style in her teens.
✫ Hired as an assistant/translator for Fernand Léger, famed French painter, in 1936. Léger goes on to introduce her to her future husband, Herbert Matter, a Swiss photographer and graphic designer.
✫ The couple hit it off immediately and Mercedes is soon living with Herbert in No. 45, where he rents two apartments: a modest studio used for sleeping, and a grand penthouse used for working.
Two illustrations of the work space, below.
|Studio in New York (Tudor City) by Herbert Matter, ca. 1937.|
|Herbert Matter's Studio by Mercedes Matter, ca. 1937|
✫ They marry, and relocate to a rowhouse at 328 E. 42nd St. [since demolished], next to The Woodstock. Active in the emerging New York art scene, the couple socializes with a number of about-to-be-very-famous artists: Jackson Pollock, Alexander Calder, Willem de Kooning and Alberto Giacometti, among others. Given her striking looks, Mercedes is considered something of a femme fatale within the group.
|Mercedes photographed by Herbert in Provincetown, 1940|
✫ The Matters leave Tudor City around 1943, eventually setting down roots in Greenwich Village and East Hampton. In 1964, Mercedes founds the New York Studio School, a highly regarded art school emphasizing drawing from life, which proves to be her legacy.
Years later in 2003, the Matters' only child, Alex, discovers a cache of reputed Jackson Pollock paintings in his father's storage locker. But that's a whole other story.