Thursday, January 6, 2011

Documentary Film and Discussion: "The Visual Language of Herbert Matter" Saturday, January 8 | 2:00 pm and "Mercedes Matter: The Hofmann Years" January 26 - February 26

This Saturday the long-awaited documentary, The Visual Language of Herbert Matter will be screened at LACMA's Bing Theater and best of all, tickets are free! For more details click on the above link.

Matter Teaser from Herbert Matter on Vimeo.

The Swiss born Herbert Matter is largely credited with expanding the use of photography as a design tool and bringing the semantics of fine art into the realm of applied arts. Inspired by the Russian constructivists and taught by artists such as Fernand L├ęger, Le Corbusier, and A.M.Cassandre in Paris in the late 20s, Matter designed a series of cutting-edge Swiss travel posters that won international acclaim for the pioneering use of photo-montage combined with type. Always striking a balance between fine art projects and commercial work, the taciturn designer found his own unique language, which resulted in the creation of such iconic works as the corporate identity for Knoll Associates and the New Haven Railroad. With his photography he was adept in documenting the early furniture of Charles and Ray Eames and creating covers for Vogue and Arts & Architecture as well as documenting his contemporaries Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Alberto Giacometti. As a filmmaker, he directed a critically acclaimed film "Works of Calder" about his good friend Alexander Calder, with music composed by John Cage. Later in life he was a professor for photography and graphic design among Paul Rand and Josef Albers at Yale University. For other screenings see

See also my Herbert and Mercedes Matter: The California Years, 1943-46 for much more on the Matters' time spent in Southern California working with the Eameses in their formative years and their extremely important influence shaping the look and feel of John Entenza's Arts & Architecture magazine.

There is a related exhibition also opening later this month at the Wiegand Gallery at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont near Palo Alto, Mercedes Matter: The Hofmann Years which I highly recommend. The curator, Ellen Landau, will be a featured speaker at the Gallery's annual fund raiser January 30th. (See the below announcement). Landau, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities, Dept. Of Art History and Art, Case Western Reserve University and also Jackson Pollock's biographer and noted expert on Mercedes Matter, Philip Guston and others was very helpful in the preparation of my above article.


Landau also curated last year's  Mercedes Matter retrospective (see poster above) at Pepperdine's Weisman Museum of Art in Malibu which I also reviewed in Herbert and Mercedes Matter: The California Years, 1943-46.

For more on the Mercedes Matter - Hans Hofmann relationship see Mercedes Matter, Lee Krasner and Ray Eames all studied under Hofmann in the 1930s which I discuss in more detail in my article linked earlier. Landau has also published numerous books and articles on the intertwined lives of these early feminist radicals and their husbands. See more on her publications in my article.