George and Barbara Gordon Gallery

Mathias J. Alten: An Evolving Legacy

The German-born American artist, Mathias Joseph Alten (1871-1938) is often referred to as the Dean of Michigan Painters. Working in a traditional representational style, Alten incorporated the aesthetics and techniques of the Impressionist Movement in paintings infused with light and punctuated with deft brushwork. Based in Grand Rapids, Alten created more than 3,800 works over a forty-plus-year career including landscapes, seascapes, portraits, florals, and still-lifes.  Alten began as a naturalist scene painter, eventually transitioning from Barbizon and Tonalist traditions to an Impressionistic style. His painting
style evolved according to his audience and personal preferences. And while he avoided embracing the “modernist” style of the early Twentieth-Century, he was sympathetic to it.

Mathias  Alten paintings in gallery

Grand Valley State University holds the largest public collection of Alten’s work in the world. The George and Barbara Gordon Gallery, in conjunction with GVSU’s Special Collections of Alten Family Archives,serve as vital resources for the study of the Alten’s work.


Gordon Gallery second floor


The George and Barbara Gordon Gallery is located in the Richard M. DeVos Center, Building E, Room 103 and 202, 401 Fulton Street West, Robert C. Pew Grand Rapids Campus. 

Alten paintings in second floor gallery

Gordon Gallery Hours:

Open Fridays and Saturdays:  1:00 - 5:00 PM

Closed on holiday weekends:  
New Years, Easter, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day,Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

Closed Easter weekend:
April 14 and 15, 2017

Closed Thanksgiving weekend:
November 23 and 24, 2017

Closed Christmas/New Years weekends: 
December 21 and 22, 2017 and December 28 and 29, 2017

Private tours and special open hours may be arranged by contacting the Art Gallery Department.

Contact Us

Nathan Kemler photo
Contact: Nathan Kemler

As Curator of Collections Management for the Art Gallery, Nathan physically and intellectually manages and cares for the entire GVSU art collection.

Alten-related Resources

Click here to view our online collection of Mathais Alten paintings.

Mathias J. Alten Timeline - Now on view on the 2nd Floor.

Download the Gordon Gallery Brochure (pdf): page 1 | page 2

Download the Mathias Alten Poem (pdf): page 1 | page 2

Visit the Mathias Alten Catalog Raisonné


CLICK HERE for directions to the George and Barbara Gordon Gallery

Page last modified February 1, 2017