Through his establishment, Galerie Pierre, the dealer Pierre Loeb promoted the work of modern artists, including Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró. Before World War II, Loeb’s gallery was an important venue for Surrealist and Cubist art.
Pierre and his twin brother, Edouard, were born to a Jewish family in 1897 in Paris. After World War I, Pierre was influenced by a family friend, Dr. Daniel Tzanck, to develop an interest in contemporary art. A collector, Dr. Tzanck was close with several young Parisian artists, including André Derain and Jules Pascin. Loeb began working as a private dealer, and on October 17, 1924, he opened Galerie Pierre at 13, rue Bonaparte, on the Left Bank. The gallery’s inaugural exhibition, Paintings, Watercolors and Drawings by Pascin, drew the attention of Picasso, an admirer of Pascin’s work, and the artist arranged a meeting with the dealer. Loeb and Picasso developed a sincere friendship, and the dealer began to buy artworks directly from the painter, despite Picasso’s agreement with gallerist Paul Rosenberg. The gallery’s success escalated quickly with two major exhibitions in 1925, first a large display of Joan Miró’s work in Paris, and later the initial presentation of Surrealist artists, La Peinture surrealiste, which included two works by Picasso: L’homme à la guitare and La Maison aux étoiles. Encouraged by his success, Loeb moved the gallery in 1927 to a larger space in the same neighborhood, 2, rue des Beaux-Arts.
Galerie Pierre continued to exhibit work by Miró and Picasso regularly until the beginning of World War II. Loeb organized four Picasso exhibitions: Cubist works from (December 1–31, 1927); papiers collés from 1912 to 1914, accompanied by a text written by Tristan Tzara (February 20–March 20, 1935); early Cubist works (April 9–24, 1937); and drawings (January 14–30, 1939). This period was a particularly active one for Loeb as a dealer. He continued to make private sales of works by artists with established market value, including Paul Cézanne, Amedeo Modigliani, and Henri Rousseau, but also bought, sold, and even exchanged artwork by younger artists with other dealers, collectors, and auction houses. For example, in 1935 he purchased Picasso’s papiers collés from Galerie Simon, Paris; Galerie Jeanne-Bucher, Paris; and Ambroise Vollard. However, Picasso was far from Loeb’s sole focus. He included Georges Braque’s work in several group exhibitions in 1928, 1929 and 1934, and organized a solo show of the artist’s Fauvist works in 1938. Fernand Léger’s name is listed in the gallery’s advertising materials, and his works can be seen in a photograph from 1932 of Loeb in his gallery. Despite the fact that no surviving exhibition materials mention the inclusion of Juan Gris, Loeb bought at least two of the artist’s works from Mary Gallery, Paris, in March 1938.
In the summer of 1939, Loeb was forced to close Galerie Pierre because of the Vichy government’s prohibition of Jewish-owned businesses. Subsequently, he moved his family to Cuba, where they stayed until 1945. There, Loeb frequently saw the artist Wifredo Lam, whom he had met through Picasso around 1938.
Loeb returned to Paris at the end of 1945, stopping first in Martinique and Haiti, where he joined André Breton. After his return, he became an active dealer once again, and focused increasingly on younger artists working in Paris, including Maria Helena Vieira de Silva and André Lanskoy. Loeb closed his gallery in February 1964, just three months before his death.