(American, 1881 - 1952)
Albert Eugene Gallatin was born into a wealthy and socially prominent family in Villanova, PA. His great-grandfather was a founder of NYU; served as Secretary of the Treasury under two Presidents; Ambassador to both France and the UK; and a Congressman in each Chamber. Inheriting a large sum upon the death of his father in 1902, Gallatin abandoned Law to pursue collecting and writing about art, initially focusing on French and American Impressionists and Ash Can School artists. Around 1918, having worked closely with Duncan Phillips (founder of the Phillips Collection) on the Allied War Salon, and through his associations with other Arts writers and critics Gallatin began to reconsider his interest in Impressionism and Ash Can, viewing them as overly sensate and lacking in intellectual depth. He sold them and soon fully embraced modernist abstraction. An avid collector, in 1927 he established the Gallery of Living Art which was housed at New York University. Renamed in 1936 to the Museum of Living Art, among the best-known works in the collection were Picasso’s Three Musicians and Mondrian’s Composition in Blue and Yellow. Gallatin began to paint in the early 1920s, studying under Robert Henri in the mid-20s and eventually settled into a style of flat abstract forms that oscillated between Synthetic Cubism and Constructivism.