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A. Deirdre Robson

(b St Louis, MO, 1914; d St Louis, April 13, 1983).

American businessman and collector. May’s family wealth came from the May Department Stores. His collecting encompassed two separate strands: he was an enthusiastic collector of art from Africa, the Pacific Islands, and Central America, and he donated many such works to the St Louis Art Museum over several years. He also became well known as one of the earliest American collectors of German Expressionism, a style in which he developed an interest in the mid-1940s, when there were few dealers handling such work in the USA.

May’s collection eventually included more than 90 works. It comprised a selection by the artists of Die Brücke, such as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Emil Nolde, and Max Pechstein, and works by artists associated with Der Blaue Reiter, for example Alexei Jawlensky and Vasily Kandinsky. Approximately one half of the collection, however, consisted of works by Max Beckmann, whom May came to know when Beckmann was teaching in St Louis in the late 1940s; the works ranged from ...