ALICE L. MATTERN
oil on canvas, signed "AL Mattern", lower left, initialed "ALM" onreverse.
42 x 35 inches
Alice Mattern is associated with the group of Non-Objective artists, a group whose focus was geometric forms, cosmic, musical and metaphysical motifs and conceptual art for the future. Mattern was born in New York City and grew up in LaSalle, Illinois. She studied art at Bradley College in Peoria and returned to New York City in 1938. There she studied with Rudolf Bauer, a master of Non-Objective painting.
Mattern painted exclusively in a Non-Objective style after 1939. She regularly submitted paintings on loan to the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, a precursor to the Guggenheim. These were regularly exhibited throughout the early 1940s at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation building on East 54th Street in Manhattan. Mattern’s paintings were shown alongside those of Harry Bertoia, Werner Drewes, Hilla Rebay, Rolph Scarlett, John Sennhauser and Jean Xceron.
The present painting, Cadence, was donated to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1961 and later entered into a private collection. It was probably sold to the original owner during or shortly after it was exhibited at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in 1944. It was one of four paintings Mattern exhibited that year. Cadence is a newly rediscovered treasure by the Mattern. Her unfortunately short career as a Non-Objective artist, spanning only six years, yielded very few known works.
Following her death in 1944, fifty-nine of her works were displayed at The Museum of Non-Objective Painting in 1945 as part of a memorial exhibition. Mattern’s contemporaries and fellow Non-Objective artists Rolph Scarlett, Hilla Rebay and Jean Xceron all contributed to the exhibition pamphlet celebrating her work.
In the exhibition brochure Hilla Rebay wrote, “Alice Mattern was a great artist; she developed in her work increasing simplicity in the rhythmic space organization, as well as in the form problems of modern development. This wonderful balance represents a rare achievement in the aesthetic development and expression of Art.”