“You know the names Klee, Kandinsky… you also should know Galka Scheyer,” By Jessica Gelt

A detail from a photo of art collector and dealer Galka Scheyer in her home built by architect Richard Neutra. (Lette Valeska)


You know the names Klee and Kandinsky. A new exhibition explains why you also should know Galka Scheyer

By JESSICA GELT


Galka Scheyer wasn’t just interested in art, she was obsessed with it. She devoted her life to turning others on to her single-minded passion.

During the tumultuous 1930s and ’40s, the prominent German-born art dealer and collector organized exhibitions, lectures, publications — and ultimately sales — of work by the beloved artists she dubbed the Blue Four: Paul Klee, Lyonel Feininger, Alexei Jawlensky and Vasily Kandinsky.

“It’s hard to underestimate the impact she had when it came to raising consciousness about these artists in the state of California,” says Gloria Williams, who the current show about Scheyer’s life, “Maven of Modernism: Galka Scheyer in California,” on view at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena through Sept. 25.

Scheyer (1889-1945) became friends with a number of prominent artists during her years in Los Angeles, including John Cage, Walter and Louise Arensberg, Josef von Sternberg, Peter Krasnow and architect Richard Neutra, whom she hired to design her home in the Hollywood Hills.

“If you want to leave the establishment, California is where you come to really let your hair down and do something new,” Williams says of Scheyer’s arrival in the state in 1925, and her ultimate success in cultivating a popular taste for avante garde art.

People loved her exuberant energy, and many of the items on display contain tender inscriptions with terms of endearment, such as one by Feininger on a piece of personal correspondence that begins with, “My Dear Little Friend.”

Williams selected each object in the exhibition — including work by Alexander Archipenko, László Moholy-Nagy, Pablo Picasso and Diego Rivera — based on its close and meaningful connection to Scheyer.

Untitled, 1945, by American artist Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956) (Lyonel Feininger)

Untitled, 1945, by American artist Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956) (Lyonel Feininger)

"Head in Profile," 1919, by German artist Emile Nolde (1867-1956) (Emile Nolde)

“Head in Profile,” 1919, by German artist Emile Nolde (1867-1956) (Emile Nolde)

"Plants in the Courtyard," 1932, by Swiss artist Paul Klee (1879-1940) (Paul Klee)

“Plants in the Courtyard,” 1932, by Swiss artist Paul Klee (1879-1940) (Paul Klee)

"Recalling Happy Memories," circa 1927, by American artist Peter Krasnow (1886-1979) (Peter Krasnow)

“Recalling Happy Memories,” circa 1927, by American artist Peter Krasnow (1886-1979) (Peter Krasnow)


Maven of Modernism: Galka Scheyer in California
Through September 25, 2017
Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, California
Info: http://bit.ly/2pmIWcy


By Jessica Gelt, Reprint from Los Angeles Times, 19 April 2017, © 2017 Los Angeles Times.

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