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Herbert Matter Photograph Collection

Born in the resort village of Engelberg, Switzerland, Herbert Matter is best known for his international contributions in photography, photomontage, and graphic design. Matter was also a filmmaker, exhibition designer, and professor. He photographed a wide range of subjects in art, advertising, and fashion, and his constant experimentation led to refinements in composition, typography, and a variety of printing techniques.
Matter initially studied painting at the Ëcole des Beaux-Arts in Geneva and then at the Académie Moderne in Paris as a student of Fernand Léger and Amédée Ozenfant. He came to the United States in 1936 and worked as a freelance photographer for Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He also created displays for the Swiss and Corning Glass Pavilions for the 1939 World's Fair. Over the course of his career, Matter worked with Charles Eames, did photography, photomontage, and covers for Arts and Architecture magazine, and served as a design and advertising consultant for Knoll, where he created the company's award-winning graphics, layout, and photography. Additionally, Matter directed, filmed, and edited "Works of Calder" in 1950 for the Museum of Modern Art. This was the first color film to show Alexander Calder's sculptures.
While maintaining these countless projects and assignments, Matter introduced the first photography classes offered at Yale University, where he taught until 1976. His most personal artistic endeavor was his extensive photography of sculptor Alberto Giacometti's work. These photographs from the 1960s and 1970s were published in his book Alberto Giacometti, which was published posthumously in 1987.


Assistant University Librarian and Director of Special Collections. Frances and Charles Field Curator of Special Collections
(650) 387-6816