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Madame Motte • 1970 on…

I will always remember Madame Motte for her rare generosity as a dealer, her understanding of quality, she was a great human being.

I was introduced to Madame Motte in 1967 by Mr. David Finkle, the stock-broker of Countess Bacelli. She owned a building in Geneva, was a most distinguished and famous dealer.

On the 1st floor, she had an Art library, on the 2nd floor the exhibition space, on the 3rd floor she had yearly auctions of very important works of Art.  She also had a gallery in Paris.

She came to my studio, at the time in Via Margutta in Rome, immediately purchased twelve of my “Sculptures to Wear” and two sculptures in bronze: “Open Wide” and “For Birth” of my                 non-figurative period. She asked me for more work on consignment, and proudly organized a one-woman exhibit of my figurative work in May of 1970.

The exhibit was very successful, visited by the most knowledgeable Art collectors, including Mr. Max Moos, who had introduced all the impressionists to Switzerland in 1918 – 2-. The Moos family had galleries worldwide. He was a very private person; much to everyone surprise, after coming to my exhibit, he invited me to his home, to see his collection. I was told that very rarely he allowed anyone to his place. I remember being speechless while looking at so much beauty, the kindness of this man in his 80s was unforgettable. He told me why he liked me, and also my work:    “You do exactly what you want, you do not try to imitate anyone, you are inside your work, which is only you”. Max Moos decided on the spot to introduce me to his old friend Sari Heller, who owned a gallery in Beverly Hills for the purpose of being represented by her. He thought that she was a most distinguished dealer.

In a corner of his office, I saw a handsome painting of Gandhi. Remembering  immediately  my  dear  friends  in  New  York             Marion Preminger, Albert Mayer, their meetings and admiration for this great man, I mentioned to Mr. Max Moos how I had met Marion, who had  been  in  Gabon  in Lambaréné  with  Schweitzer,  for  25 years.  She had then returned to New York at Schweitzer’s wish, who had performed the marriage between her and Albert Mayer, a major architect and a philanthropist who went several times to give his  help in Gabon. They lived on Park Avenue, in one of Mayer’s building, Mr. Moos asked me for their address.

I later discovered, when being in New York again, that he had sent the paining of Gandhi (done by a young artist) to Marion and Albert as a gift, explaining how we had met, how enthusiastic he was about my work and exhibit in Geneva.

In 1971, one year after the exhibit had closed, Madame Motte dropped me a note to let me know that the sister of the Shah of Iran that lived near by the gallery, had stopped by to see my work and purchased a catalogue. Apparently, she had sent it to the Shah, who was now interested in knowing more about some of my work.

In her usual generosity, she said: “It is all yours; I do not want any commission”. Very rare indeed for a dealer. Some of them wanted their commission even on work sold by me, much after the closing of the exhibit.

In the 80’s, I was told by my dear friends Mimí and Ben Landau that lived in Geneva, that she no longer had her beautiful building,  she  now  worked  and  lived in some basement space.

She had a young lover, she allowed him to take everything she owned. I dropped her a note to express fond memories and sent her one of my books. She thanked me and unfortunately died shortly after.

I therefore did not have a chance to see again this wonderful unforgettable person.

I was later contacted by Frank Heller, he informed me that he had received a note from Max Moos, his mother Sari had died, he was running the gallery, he was very interested in showing my work.

He came with his wife all the way to my studio in Rome at Palazzo Patrizi • Via Margutta, he purchased three sculptures, and we decided on a date for the exhibition (some time in the Fall of 1972) of my most recent non-figurative work.

He was very generous, and also paid for the crating and shipping charges from California to Japan, where I was to have my solo exhibit at the Hakone Open – Air Museum, December 1st, 1972 – end of February, 1973.

When the very successful exhibition with Frank Heller closed, he gave me a check, for all the sculptures that had been sold, and asked me to cash it immediately. I did and was rather surprised by his promptness of payment. Dealers usually pay months later, sometimes never. Ten days later, he went into bankruptcy.

It was very honorable of him not to include me in his problem and not wanting for me, to loose the sculptures and the money.

Meanwhile, April/May 1973 I was included in the exhibition of American and European tapestries at the Palm Springs Desert Museum with Braque, Leger, Picasso and Mategot.