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Notable New     Yorkers
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Mary LaskerMary Lasker
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This was after 1926.

First we had an exhibit of paintings by Matisse at the Reinhart Galleries in New York, in 1926 or 1927. It was his first show in the United States and it was profoundly unsuccessful. Not one painting or watercolor was sold. To tell you the truth, I don't think those paintings were as good as the ones he did later. He's become a greater artist than he was then. There were some charming watercolors, but the whole thing seemed too bizarre, too emotional, too surrealist, and too Jewish in its quality to suit people, and people were totally cold. Now, as you know, he's the most sought-after painter. He's painted the ceiling for the Opera and I've urged him to paint the decorations for the Kennedy Center, which I am still hoping he may do. I have a friend who told me he just paid $85,000 for a Matisse. Chagall is now 77 years old and is universally admired and beloved by collectors in the Western world.

I've gone to see him repeatedly in his house in Vence, first to buy a present for Mr. and Mrs. William Blair for their marriage in Copenhagen. I thought I would buy a water color from him to give them. He didn't show me any water colors, and finally his wife said, “I think that a water color is awfully expensive for a wedding present. Do you really want to buy it?” I said, “I think so. Why not?” She said, “Wouldn't you rather buy a book?” She said, “There's a wonderful book called Daphnis and Chloe. Why don't you come over, and I'll show it to you?”



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