Many important European avant-garde movements of the early and mid-twentieth century, including German Expressionism, Cubism, and Dada, are represented in the collection, which is particularly distinguished by its holding of a complete set of the 1964 edition of Marcel Duchamp’s Readymades.
An accomplished sculptor, Henri Matisse used the medium to explore complex figural poses. This small bronze, with its roughly modeled, Impressionistic surface, reflects the influence of sculptors such as Rodin, whose work Matisse studied in the late 1890s. Matisse most actively pursued his sculptural interests during the following decade. The female nude was one of Matisse’s favorite subjects, linking him to the classical traditions of Western art.
Born in Milan, Rembrandt Bugatti was the brother of racing car designer Ettore Bugatti and nephew of the Italian Symbolist painter Giovanni Segantini. His studies and career took him to Paris in 1904 and then to Antwerp in 1907, where he carried on the nineteenth-century tradition of animalier sculpture. His interest in the movements of animals were inspired by his study of the animals in the Antwerp zoo, but also may reflect the influence of Edgar Degas’s sculptural studies of ballerinas in movement.
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was the leading member of the Expressionist group Brücke (Bridge), which was active in Dresden and Berlin from 1905 to 1913. The Expressionists developed a style characterized by spontaneous brushwork, vivid colors, and personal interpretations of their surroundings. When painting views of Dresden, Kirchner focused on suburban scenes and often incorporated nature into the cityscape. In this painting, for example, apartment houses or factories are seen from a vantage point on the River Elbe, which dominates the composition. Kirchner reworked this painting in 1920, adding the figure of the boatman at that time.
Alexander Archipenko, who lived in Paris from 1908 to 1921, is known for his application of Cubism to sculpture. This bronze of a draped woman has a streamlined form that also foreshadows the Art Deco style of the 1920s. Archipenko’s varied interests in modernism as well as ancient and Byzantine art provide some explanation for his unique style.