Wealthy and influential art collector and scholar, Albert Eugene Gallatin, would take up painting late in his life, and consider it more an exercise in understanding the works he so deeply admired than formal works of art.
Born in 1881 to a distinguished family, Gallatin was able to leave his legal studies to take up art collecting and art study as a way of life. Early in his career he was devoted to collecting and writing about the works of Aubrey Beardsley and James Whistler, and later turned his attention to the American Impressionists. During World War I however, Gallatin's eye would be permanently directed towards modern art.
Within the next decade Gallatin would begin to sell off most of his earlier collection of Impressionist and "Ash Can" school paintings, and devoted himself to the modern and abstract art world. He purchased works by Cezanne and Picasso as early as 1922, and by 1926 was trying his own hand at abstract painting.
Between 1927 and 1936 however he gave up his efforts at painting and directed all of his attention to establishing the Gallery of Living Art, America's first museum solely dedicated to modern art. The Gallery was located on the New York University campus and was a major destination for many artists wanting to see modern art for themselves.
By 1936 he was back at the easel, and had joined the American Abstract Artists Group. His paintings were of the purist abstraction, taking Gallatin years to complete. He tended to avoid descriptions of his work, labeling each "Composition" instead.
The Gallatin collection was relocated to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1943, though Gallatin also donated several canvases to the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts at the time of the relocation.