De Herrera, Gloria, 1929-1985

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Biographical/Historical Note

Gloria Claire de Herrera was born in Los Angeles on April 26, 1929, of Mexican and German descent. In 1947, while still in high school, she befriended Barbara C. Byrnes, owner of the American Contemporary Gallery on Hollywood Boulevard, and her husband James B. Byrnes. In 1949 James Byrnes, at that time a curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, offered De Herrera a position as project secretary for the California Centennial Exhibition; she also acted as slide-pusher for Byrnes's course on twentieth-century art at USC, and learned art conservation at the LACMA conservation laboratory. During these years De Herrera also became friendly with Man Ray and his wife Juliet (née Browner), as well as artist and collector William Nelson Copley. Through Copley and Man Ray she received entrée to a circle of artists connected to the Surrealist movement, including Max Ernst, Dorothea Tanning, Roberto Matta-Echauren, Yves Tanguy, and Marcel Duchamp.

In March of 1951, in response to the rise of McCarthyism in the United States, Man Ray, his wife, and Copley departed for Paris, bringing De Herrera with them. This move proved a pivotal event in her life, as she was never to return to the United States. In France, De Herrera and Copley found themselves at the heart of the art world, socializing with the Man Rays, Nelly van Doesburg, writers Valentine and Roland Penrose, poet Paul Eluard, and artists Constantin Brancusi, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Alberto Giacometti and Tristan Tzara, among many others. De Herrera also became involved in buying and selling art, and traveled with Copley throughout France, visiting the country homes of Max Ernst, André Breton, Henri-Pierre Roché, Pablo Picasso and Françoise Gilot.

By 1953 or 1954 the relationship with Copley had ended, and De Herrera had found employment at Lucien Lefebvre-Foinet, a notable Parisian art-supplies store then owned by Maurice Lefebvre-Foinet, whose brother René she had known in Los Angeles. Here she became an art conservator. After implementing a series of successful repairs on damaged paintings by Mondrian and Chagall, De Herrera was recommended for the task of applying permanent glue to Henri Matisse's cut-out collages (also known as découpages or gouaches découpées). Between 1953 and ca. 1959, De Herrera worked on at least sixteen collages, and likely many more; the work was coordinated through Matisse's Russian-born assistant and model Lydia Delectorskaya, who became De Herrera's friend as well. De Herrera also undertook a commission for Marcel Duchamp in 1957. She maintained friendships in this period with Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning, Victor Brauner, Alexander Calder, Alberto Giacometti, Fernand Léger, Wolfgang Paalen and Bernard Pfriem.

In the late 1950s De Herrera became increasingly interested in leftist politics. She travelled to the Soviet Union in 1957, and as France became engaged with the struggle for Algerian independence, she espoused the Algerian cause. She also befriended the world-travelling photographer Dominique Darbois, and did layout for Darbois's Enfants du monde children's book series. In 1960 De Herrera was arrested and jailed for two months by French police conducting a sweep of Europeans who had provided assistance to the FLN (Front de libération nationale: the Algerian revolutionary army). Media attention focused on the involvement of De Herrera, an American citizen, in the trials of the "porteurs de valises" (suitcase-carriers, or French supporters of the Algerian independence movement). She was given a separate, secret military trial, and was ultimately expelled from France. De Herrera took up residence in Brussels, Belgium, as did many of her exiled cohorts. Successive amnesties declared in March 1962 and July 1968 restored her residency in France, and brought about the return of impounded possessions, including her automobile.

Returning to France, De Herrera found herself shunned by most of her past art-world friends. Her intimates in this period included Darbois and the photographer/master forger Adolfo Kaminsky, both of whom had been active in the French Resistance during WWII. In 1973 she left Paris for the Dordogne region, where she purchased a home near Lascaux, whose prehistoric paintings she reportedly helped document. There she became friendly with American artist Patricia Barton, also living in the Dordogne.

By 1983 De Herrera had developed terminal throat cancer. At this time James and Barbara Byrnes, who had been hoping to interview her about her Matisse collage work, finally located her through Darbois. They became her helpmates through her final two years of life, assisting her in raising money for medical treatment, in selling her house and transporting her belongings to the United States, and in re-establishing contact with her family, from whom she had been long estranged. Gloria de Herrera died on June 24, 1985, in Brive (Corrèze).

From the guide to the Gloria de Herrera papers, 1936-1996, 1947-1985, (Getty Research Institute)

Gloria de Herrera was an American art preparator, restorer and collector active in the art worlds of Los Angeles and France. Born in 1929 in Los Angeles, she moved to Paris in 1951. A close friend of Man Ray, William Nelson Copley and other notable artists, De Herrera is credited with having glued and made permanent the cut-out collages of Henri Matisse. In 1960 De Herrera became involved in the struggle for Algerian independence and was briefly jailed. In 1973 she left Paris for the Dordogne region, settling near Lascaux. She died in Brive, France in 1985.

From the description of Gloria de Herrera papers, 1936-1996 (bulk 1947-1985). (Getty Research Institute). WorldCat record id: 78908824

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Gloria de Herrera papers, 1936-1996 (bulk 1947-1985) Getty Research Institute
creatorOf De Herrera, Gloria, 1929-1985. Gloria de Herrera papers, 1936-1996 (bulk 1947-1985). Getty Research Institute
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Armstrong, Louis, 1901-1971 person
associatedWith Armstrong, Louis, 1901-1971 person
associatedWith Baldwin, Neil, 1947- person
associatedWith Barinov, Igor person
associatedWith Barton, Patricia person
associatedWith Berggruen, Heinz person
associatedWith Berggruen, Heinz. person
associatedWith Bigard, Barney person
associatedWith Boudaoud, Omar person
associatedWith Brahim, Malika person
associatedWith Brauner, Victor, 1903-1966 person
associatedWith Brauner, Victor, 1903-1966. person
associatedWith Breton, André, 1896-1966 person
associatedWith Brunius, Jacques-B person
associatedWith Burke, John person
associatedWith Burley, Dan person
associatedWith Byrnes, Barbara person
correspondedWith Byrnes, Barbara person
associatedWith Byrnes, James B. person
correspondedWith Byrnes, James B. person
associatedWith Calder, Alexander, 1898-1976 person
associatedWith Calder, Alexander, 1898-1976. person
associatedWith Chavaroche, Marie-Hélène person
associatedWith Copley Galleries corporateBody
associatedWith Copley Galleries. corporateBody
associatedWith Copley, William Nelson, 1919- person
associatedWith Copley, William Nelson, 1919-1996 person
associatedWith Cornell, Joseph person
associatedWith Cowart, Jack person
associatedWith Darbois, Dominique person
associatedWith Darbois, Dominique. person
associatedWith De Herrera, David person
associatedWith De Herrera, Mildred person
associatedWith Delectorskaya, Lydia person
associatedWith Delectorskaya, Lydia. person
associatedWith Dondero, George A. (George Anthony), 1883-1968 person
associatedWith Dondero, George A. (George Anthony), 1883-1968 person
associatedWith Dorival, Bernard person
associatedWith Drouin, René, 1905-1979 person
correspondedWith Duchamp, Marcel, 1887-1968 person
associatedWith Duchamp, Marcel, 1887-1968 person
associatedWith Dumas, Roland person
associatedWith Ellington, Duke, 1899-1974 person
associatedWith Ellington, Duke, 1899-1974 person
associatedWith Eluard, Dominique person
associatedWith Eluard, Paul, 1895-1952 person
associatedWith Eluard, Paul, 1895-1952 person
associatedWith Ernst, Max, 1891-1976 person
associatedWith Ernst, Max, 1891-1976 person
associatedWith Fitzgerald, Ella person
associatedWith Fitzgerald, Ella person
associatedWith Fonvieille-Alquier, François person
associatedWith Foresta, Merry A. person
associatedWith Francette person
associatedWith Galleria del naviglio (Milan, Italy) corporateBody
associatedWith Giacometti, Alberto, 1901-1966 person
associatedWith Giacometti, Alberto, 1901-1966. person
associatedWith Gibbons, Joseph Burroughs person
associatedWith Gillespie, Dizzy, 1917- person
associatedWith Gilot, Françoise, 1921- person
associatedWith Gilot, Françoise, 1921- person
associatedWith Granz, Norman, 1918- person
associatedWith Grepin person
associatedWith Guy Loudmer, Hervé Poulain (Firm) corporateBody
associatedWith Hall, Jacques person
associatedWith Hodes, Barnet, 1900-1980 person
associatedWith Hôtel Drouot corporateBody
associatedWith Inverarity, Robert Bruce, 1909- person
associatedWith Johnston, Ynez, 1920- person
associatedWith Kaminsky, Adolfo person
associatedWith Kaminsky, Adolfo. person
associatedWith Kelleher, Patrick J. (Patrick Joseph), 1917- person
associatedWith Lefebvre-Foinet, Maurice person
associatedWith Loeb, Edouard person
associatedWith Loeb, Edouard. person
associatedWith Lucas, Jacques person
associatedWith Lucien Lefebvre-Foinet (Firm) corporateBody
associatedWith Mannheimer Kunstverein corporateBody
associatedWith Man Ray, 1890-1976 person
associatedWith Man Ray, Juliet, d. 1991 person
associatedWith Man Ray, Juliet, d. 1991 person
associatedWith Maranz, George person
associatedWith Matisse, Amélie person
associatedWith Matisse, Henri, 1869-1954 person
associatedWith Matisse, Henri, 1869-1954. person
associatedWith Matisse, Pierre, 1900-1989 person
associatedWith Matisse, Pierre, 1900-1989. person
associatedWith Matta Echaurren, Roberto Sebastián, 1911- person
associatedWith Matta Echaurren, Roberto Sebastián, 1912-2002. person
associatedWith Mesens, E. L. T. (Edouard Léon Théodore), 1903-1971 person
associatedWith Messenger, Ivan person
associatedWith Meyer, Franz, writer on art person
associatedWith Meyer, Franz, writer on art person
associatedWith Mitchell, Irene Musillo person
associatedWith Mondrian, Piet, 1872-1944 person
associatedWith Musée national d'art moderne corporateBody
associatedWith Paalen, Wolfgang, 1907- person
associatedWith Paalen, Wolfgang, 1907-1959. person
associatedWith Pastier, Madeleine person
associatedWith Penrose, Roland, Sir person
associatedWith Penrose, Roland, Sir person
associatedWith Penrose, Valentine person
associatedWith Penrose, Valentine person
associatedWith Péret, Benjamin, 1899-1959 person
associatedWith Pfriem, Bernard, 1914- person
associatedWith Pfriem, Bernard, 1914- person
associatedWith Picasso, Claude, 1947- person
associatedWith Picasso, Pablo, 1881-1973 person
associatedWith Picasso, Pablo, 1881-1973 person
associatedWith Poniatowski, Michel person
associatedWith Ray, Man, 1890-1976 person
associatedWith Roché, Henri Pierre, 1879-1959 person
associatedWith Roché, Henri Pierre, 1879-1959 person
associatedWith Rothman, Walter person
associatedWith Rubin, William Stanley person
associatedWith Sidney Janis Gallery corporateBody
associatedWith Tanguy, Yves, 1900-1955 person
associatedWith Tanning, Dorothea, 1910- person
associatedWith Tanning, Dorothea, 1910-2012 person
associatedWith Tashjian, Dickran, 1940- person
associatedWith Tashjian, Dickran, 1940- person
associatedWith Teagarden, Jack, 1905-1964 person
associatedWith Toyen, 1902- person
associatedWith Tsypina, Rita person
associatedWith Young-Mallin, Judith person
associatedWith Zerbib, Marcel person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
France
Soviet Union
Soviet Union—Description and travel
Sedona (Ariz.)—Social life and customs
France—Politics and government—1958-1969
Los Angeles (Calif.)
California--Los Angeles
Algeria—History—Revolution, 1954-1962
United States—Politics and government—1945-1953
Algeria
Los Angeles (Calif.)—Social life and customs
Sedona (Ariz.)
Paris (France)
Paris (France)—Social life and customs
France--Paris
Subject
Americans--Social life and customs
Photography, Artistic
Art dealers--20th century--Correspondence
Art--Exhibitions
Art restorers--20th century--Correspondence
Americans--France--Social life and customs
Art galleries, Commercial
Art, Modern--20th century
Surrealism
Sculpture, Modern--20th century
Collage, French
Art--Collectors and collecting
Jazz musicians--Pictorial works
Art--Conservation and restoration
Painting, Modern--20th century
Occupation
Activity

Person

Birth 1929

Death 1985

French,

Russian,

English

Information

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SNAC ID: 83606722