February 11, 2023

Residents: HERBERT MATTER

Herbert Matter in 1937

In this installment of Tudor City notables, meet Herbert Matter, Swiss photographer/designer, and former resident of No. 45. His innovative work helped shape the vocabulary of 20th-century graphic design.

Between the years 1932-1935, he designed a series of posters for the Swiss National Tourist Office. They are much admired ‒ the Museum of Modern Art acquires them for its permanent collection ‒ and he was off and running; he left for America in 1935.

He lands in New York City where he meets Alexey Brodovitch, art director of Harper's Bazaar, who hires him as a freelance photographer. This leads to many magazine covers, above. The painter Fernand L├ęger introduces him to his future wife, Mercedes, and she moves into his Tudor City digs, a small studio in No. 45 for living and one of its penthouses for working.

The couple become friendly with some of the artists of that time: Alexander Calder, Willem de Kooning, Alberto Giacometti, and Jackson Pollock. They leave Tudor City for good in 1943, eventually settling in Greenwich Village.

In the years that followed, Matter worked as a design consultant for the furniture company Knoll, taught photography at Yale, and was design consultant for the Guggenheim Museum. Above, a sample of his work for Knoll and the cover design for a Guggenheim show on Alexander Calder.

Matter died in 1984. His wife (pictured above) was a notable artist herself and profiled earlier by this blog. And it was their son, Alex, who raised a ruckus some years later. 

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for this fascinating bit of TC history.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Another piece of history to add to our
    Little Piece of Heaven called Tudor City!

    Thank you,

    Greg Fricke Sr

    ReplyDelete