In 1927, the Henry Art Gallery presented its first modern art exhibition, The Blue Four, consisting of works by Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Lyonel Feininger and Alexei Jawlensky. Acquainted through various artist affiliations and the Bauhaus School in Weimar, Germany, the four artists were introduced to Galka Scheyer. Having successfully promoted Jawlensky’s work previously, in 1924 Scheyer convinced the four artists to let her represent them as ‘The Blue Four,’ a name she devised to link them. Scheyer, trained as an artist, dedicated the remainder of her life to promoting the Blue Four in the United States, particularly focusing exhibitions on the West Coast. The abstraction of their work was radical and challenging for many at the time, but is now part of the cornerstone of modernist ideas in twentieth-century art. Aware of this, Scheyer devoted her life to teaching about looking at modern art and understanding the significance of what were then very contemporary ideas.
Seventy years later, the Henry presented a selection of Scheyer’s archive, 170 paintings, watercolors and lithographs by the four artists, as well as original exhibition booklets and correspondence providing insight into their relationships. In addition to some of the original works from the 1927 Henry exhibition, such as Paul Klee’s ‘Maid of Saxony’ (1922), the exhibition includes works form Scheyer’s collection by such artists as Pablo Picasso, Alexander Archipenko, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and Emil Nolde. The Blue Four Galka Scheyer Collection was a rare loan from the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, and celebrated the Henry’s long tradition of exhibiting the art of our time.