The Katherine S. Dreier Bequest
Katherine S. Dreier (1877–1952), a patron of the arts, founded the Société Anonyme with Marcel Duchamp
(1887–1968) and Man Ray (1890–1976) in 1920. Although it never had a
permanent exhibition space, the Société Anonyme was the first
collection in the United States to be called a “Museum of Modern Art.”
Under Dreier’s leadership, the organization supported numerous
exhibitions, namely the 1926 International Exhibition of Modern Art at
the Brooklyn Museum, in addition to concerts, lectures, and
publications, during its thirty-year history. Vasily Kandinsky
(1866–1944), an artist whose evolution to abstraction would help
articulate the vision of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Collection, served
in absentia as the Société Anonyme’s first vice-president from 1923
until his death.
Dreier and Hilla Rebay (1890–1967), Solomon Guggenheim’s art adviser and an artist in her own right, not only shared similar sympathies in terms of artists, but
also were both building significant collections of modern art.
Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian, independent of one another, encouraged the
two pioneering women to meet in 1930, and it was only natural that they
would continue to cross paths. Kandinsky’s death in December 1944
brought Dreier and Rebay back into close contact and resulted in
important Kandinsky purchases from Dreier’s collection for the
Guggenheim Foundation two years later. Finally, in 1953, the foundation
received a small but important bequest from Dreier via her
executor, Duchamp, a testament to the mutual respect and
admiration as proponents for the cause of modern art, which existed
between herself and the foundation. Most important among the 28 works donated by the estate were Constantin Brancusi’s Little French Girl
(1914–18), a bronze by Alexander Archipenko (1919), a standing mobile
by Alexander Calder (1935), an untitled Juan Gris still life (1916), and three collages dating from 1919 to 1921 by the German Dadaist Kurt Schwitters.
Browse works form The Katherine S. Dreier Bequest in the Collection Online.
Gross, Jennifer R. and Bohan, Ruth L. The Société Anonyme: Modernism for America. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006
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