Best known as a painter of abstract still life and founder of the New York Studio School, Mercedes Matter was also a distinguished teacher and writer. She lived in East Hampton, New York. Before founding the Studio School in 1964, she taught at several east coast schools and published many articles on modern art.
She was born Mercedes Carles in New York. Her father was artist Arthur B. Carles, and her mother was Mercedes de Cordoba, a model for photographer Edward Steichen. She was raised in Philadelphia and New York and Europe, and by age six, was painting under her father's direction. She later studied with Hans Hofmann at the Art Students League and at Bennett Junior College in Millbrook, Connecticut. In 1939 she married Herbert Matter, a graphic designer and photographer, and they were active in the New York art scene with the Pollocks, de Koonings, and Calders.