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Henri Matisse- Alfred Flechtheim
Art dealer of the Avantgarde

Henri Matisse

31.12.1869 Le Cateau-Cambrésis - 03.11.1954 Nice
Alfred Flechtheim and Henri Matisse

“If one had to compare Henri Matisse’s œuvre with something else it would have to be an orange. Like the orange, Matisse’s work is a fruit that explodes in light,” wrote the French writer and art critic of the avant-garde, Guillaume Apollinaire (1880–1918). According to Apollinaire the works have a specifically French clarity and simplicity, by which he means their high decorative and abstract qualities. In 1908 Matisse put his idea for ‘pure painting’ to paper in a contribution ‘Notes d’un peintre’ for the magazine ‘La Grande Revue’ and declared that his work was free of any imitation of reality. Earlier, from 1897–1907, an explosive world of colour dominated his pictures – a feature of the Fauves, a group of French artists of which he is frequently named the founder. His experiments regarding spatial structures also show a connection with Cubism.

The first official recognition Henri Matisse received came from Germany. In 1912 the Neue Staatsgalerie in Munich, now the Neue Pinakothek, purchased a still life. One year later, the French artist was represented by 13 works at the opening exhibition of Alfred Flechtheim’s gallery in Düsseldorf. Matisse became well known following a restrospective held in 1909 in the gallery of the Berlin art dealer Paul Cassirer (1871–1926). It is possible that Matisse was brought to Flechtheim’s attention through Cassirer, as both art dealers had enjoyed a friendly business relationship since 1911. Flechtheim continued to show works by Matisse at other exhibitions up until 1933, such as at ‘Matisse Braque Picasso’ from September–October 1930 in Berlin, that united 10 paintings by Matisse including major works such as 'Odalisque' (1923) and 'The Goldfish Bowl' (1906/7). One exhibition, held from February–March 1933 in the Berlin gallery is of particular importance as it was here that a cycle of 20 etchings by Matisse illustrating poems by Stéphane Mallarmé (1842–98) was shown. Matisse stood in the tradition of the poet – both transform the real world into an artistic one of signs and symbols.

Letter from Henri Matisse supporting Flechtheim’s application for naturalisation in 1936:

«Boulv. Montparnasse 132, 9 Juin 1936. Cher Monsieur Flechtheim. J’ai appris avec plaisir votre désir de demander votre naturalisation française. Cela paraît bien facile avec le souvenir des grands services que vous avez rendus à l’art français depuis 30 ans, en Allemagne et ces temps ci en Angleterre. J’espère que tous ceux qui le savent le diront et que bientôt vous serez des nôtres. Je le souhaite vivement, et vous prie de croire, cher Monsieur Alfred Flechtheim, à l’assurance de mes sentiments les meilleurs Henri-Matisse.»

(Boulv. Montparnasse 132, 9 June, 1936. Dear Mr. Flechtheim. I heard with great pleasure of your wish to acquire French citizenship. This would appear to be a clear-cut case considering the great service you have done to French art over 30 years in Germany and, more recently, in England. I hope that all those who know this will say so too, and that you will soon be one of us. With my utmost and sincere greetings, M. Alfred Flechtheim. Henri Matisse.)

Individual exhibitons at the Galerie Flechtheim

November–Dezember 1921

Henri Matisse
Berlin, Lützowufer 13

Group exhibitions at the Galerie Flechtheim

Dezember 1913

Beiträge zur Kunst des XIX. Jahrhunderts und unserer Zeit. Zusammengestellt von Dr.Paul Mahlberg. Herausgegeben anläßlich ihrer Eröffnung von der Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, GmbH
Düsseldorf, Alleestraße 7

Mai–Oktober 1914

Deutsche Werkbundausstellung. Leihgaben der Galerie Alfred Flechtheim
Köln / Düsseldorf, Alleestraße 7

Oktober 1921

Eröffnungsausstellung: Deutsche und französische Kunst aus des XX. Jahrhunderts Beginn
Berlin, Lützowufer 13

Dezember 1924

Düsseldorf, Königsallee 34

Sommer 1925

Sommer 1925
Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt am Main, (Lützowufer, Königsallee, Oberlindau 1)

September–Oktober 1928

Lebende ausländische Kunst. Aus rheinischem Privatbesitz
Düsseldorf, Königsallee 34

Sommer 1929

Sommer 1929: Rudolf Grossmann und andere
Berlin, Düsseldorf, (Lützowufer, Königsallee)

November–Dezember 1929

Seit Cézanne in Paris
Berlin, Lützowufer 13

März–April 1930

Düsseldorf, Königsallee 34

Sommer 1930

Sommer 1930: Renoir und lebende Meister
Berlin, Düsseldorf, (Lützowufer, Königsallee)

September–Oktober 1930

Matisse Braque Picasso, 60 Werke aus deutschem Besitz
Berlin, Lützowufer 13

Mai–Juni 1932

111 Porträts zeitgenössischer Künstler. Selbstbildnisse. Bildnisse von Malern, Dichtern, Schauspielern, Musikern, Boxern usw.
Berlin, Lützowufer 13

Februar–März 1933

Lebendige deutsche Kunst. Ausstellungsfolge in drei Abteilungen. Veranstaltet von Paul Cassirer und Alfred Flechtheim. Dritte Ausstellung beim Kunstsalon Paul Cassirer
Berlin, Viktoriastraße 35