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Article

A. Deirdre Robson

(b London, Dec 8, 1904; d New York, Nov 25, 1979).

American publisher and collector. He trained at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League in New York before working in publishing. In 1950 he set up his own publishing company, Harry N. Abrams Inc., one of the first American companies to specialize in art books. In 1968 he founded Abbeville Books. His collecting, which began in the mid-1930s, went through three distinct phases: his first interest was in such contemporary American painters as Milton Avery and Raphael Soyer. He continued to purchase such works into the 1950s, but from the mid-1940s his collecting began to be dominated by works by major 20th-century artists; he acquired, among other works, Marc Chagall’s Clock (1948), Pablo Picasso’s Motherhood (1921) and Georges Rouault’s Miserere (1939).

Abrams’s most notable period as a collector was the 1960s, when he became known as a major collector of new American art. His interest in this area was fuelled by the ...

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

(b. Oakland, CA, 1893; d. Shiraz, Iran, 25 Jan. 1977).

American historian of Iranian art. While studying mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, Ackerman met and eventually married Arthur Upham Pope, with whom she had taken courses in philosophy and aesthetics. In 1926 she and Pope organized the first ever exhibition of Persian art at the Pennsylvania Museum and helped create the First International Congress of Oriental Art. In 1930 Ackerman was stricken with polio but taught herself to walk again. They were instrumental in preparing the 1931 Persian Art Exhibition at Burlington House, London, and the Second International Congress of Iranian Art and Archaeology, as well as the Third Congress in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in 1935 and the exhibition of Iranian art at the Iranian Institute in New York in 1940. She visited Iran for the first time in 1964, when the shah of Iran invited Pope to revive the Asia Institute; it was associated with Pahlavi University in Shiraz until ...

Article

(b Maple, Ont., May 25, 1879; d Cherkley, nr Leatherhead, June 9, 1964).

British publisher, financier, politician, collector and patron, of Canadian birth. As Minister of Information during World War I, he was responsible for the War Records Office in London, through which Wyndham Lewis, Muirhead Bone, William Orpen, Christopher Nevinson, Augustus John and six Canadian artists, J. W. Beatty (1869–1941), Maurice Cullen, C. W. Simpson (1878–1942), Fred Varley, David Milne and A. Y. Jackson, received commissions to record Canada’s military contribution to the war effort. The Canadian War Memorials were deposited at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, in 1921, and since then all but the major canvases have been transferred to the Canadian War Museum, also in Ottawa.

Beaverbrook was instrumental in developing the National Gallery of Canada’s collection of historical pictures; he was directly responsible for the gift of Benjamin West’s The Death of Wolfe by the Duke of Westminster in 1918, and the acquisition of ...

Article

Tom Williams

American nonprofit art institution that was founded in 1975 in New York by Geno Rodriguez, Janice Rooney and Robert Browning as the Alternative Center for International Arts. Like many other alternative institutions, the Alternative Museum was established in the wake of the social movements of the 1960s with the mission of displaying socially and politically charged art and providing a venue that was independent from both the market-oriented gallery system and the prevailing conservatism of New York museums. The museum closed its SoHo location in 2000 and now exists entirely as an online institution.

The museum originated in part as a response to Rodriguez’s own experiences with institutional prejudices while attempting to find exhibition venues for his own work during the early 1970s, and it was founded with the pluralist aspiration to show artists that were marginalized or tokenized within dominant institutions. Within their first year, for example, the museum hosted significant exhibitions of art from both Latin America and Japan. Moreover, the museum often adopted a decidedly more political position than even most other nonprofit institutions in New York, particularly in reference to questions of racism and sexism. Although the institution hosted a number of significant solo exhibitions, including notable shows of work by Dennis Adams (...

Article

Virginie Bobin

Exhibition space that is not run by an institution or commercial organization is often described as an alternative space. The phenomenon of alternative spaces in the United States is usually associated with the blooming of numerous not-for-profit artist-run spaces in the 1970s, although important precedents can be found as far as in 1862, when the Art Building Gallery in Chicago was founded to provide free exhibition space to artists. Providing fees and decision-power to artists, promoting conceptual and video, installation or action art, collective practices and social and political commitment, alternative spaces radically contributed to redefine the position of the artist and the form of the exhibition in the United States. Since then, the acceptance of the term has shifted to a more general opposition to mainstream institutions, such as museums and commercial galleries.

Generally considered the first small nonprofit organizations initiated by and for visual artists, 98 Greene Street, Apple, and 112 Workshop (now White Columns) opened in New York in ...

Article

Lillian B. Miller

(b New York, July 12, 1840; d New York, Oct 7, 1913).

American merchant and collector. He was the son of Bavarian Jewish immigrants who ran a small dry goods business in New York before the Civil War. About 1863 he entered into a business partnership with his brother; after Morris Altman’s death in 1876, Benjamin re-established the business and quickly developed it into a highly profitable enterprise. Altman’s aesthetic interests extended from European and Oriental decorative arts to Old Master paintings. A self-educated connoisseur, Altman depended a great deal on the advice of dealers such as Duveen, Agnew, Gimpel and Wildenstein, but also developed a fine discrimination as a result of a few short trips to Europe and the accumulation of a valuable art library. As he became more deeply involved in art, he began to devote his entire time to its study. Although never a recluse, he did not participate actively in New York society, never married and insisted on privacy....

Article

Naomi Sawelson-Gorse

American collectors and patrons. Walter (Conrad) Arensberg (b Pittsburg [now Pittsburgh], PA, 4 April 1878; d Los Angeles, CA, 29 Jan 1954) and his wife, Louise [née Mary Louise Stevens] (b Dresden, 15 May 1879; d Los Angeles, CA, 25 Nov 1953), lived in New York from 1914 to 1921. During this period their apartment at 33 W. 67th Street was an unofficial salon for the American Dada movement, where French expatriate artists such as (Henri-Robert-)Marcel Duchamp and Francis Picabia mingled with American writers, artists, musicians and others. Although Walter Arensberg enjoyed financial comfort for a while, owing to financial assistance from his father, this soon ended. Walter’s support of such journals as Others and Blind Man and of the Marius de Zayas Gallery was short-lived and ended in financial failure. In contrast, his wife, Louise (whom he had married in 1907), had inherited substantial wealth from her parents, which provided the means to acquire the majority of works the couple amassed from the 1920s....

Article

Arman  

Alfred Pacquement

[Fernandez, Armand]

(b Nice, Nov 17, 1928; d New York, Oct 22, 2005).

American sculptor and collector of French birth. Arman lived in Nice until 1949, studying there at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs from 1946 and in 1947 striking up a friendship with the artist Yves Klein, with whom he was later closely associated in the Nouveau Réalisme movement. In 1949 he moved to Paris, where he studied at the Ecole du Louvre and where in an exhibition in 1954 he discovered the work of Kurt Schwitters, which led him to reject the lyrical abstraction of the period. In 1955 Arman began producing Stamps, using ink-pads in a determined critique of Art informel and Abstract Expressionism to suggest a depersonalized and mechanical version of all-over paintings. In his next series, the Gait of Objects, which he initiated in 1958, he took further his rejection of the subjectivity of the personal touch by throwing inked objects against the canvas.

Arman’s willingness to embrace chance was indicated by his decision in ...

Article

Judith Zilczer

[International Exhibition of Modern Art]

Exhibition of art held between 17 February and 15 March 1913 in New York at the 69th Regiment Armory, Lexington Avenue, Manhattan (see fig.), from which it derived its nickname. The exhibition then travelled to the Art Institute of Chicago (24 March–16 April) and Copley Hall, Boston (28 April–19 May). This first large-scale show of modern art held in the USA (see United States of America, §III, 3) resulted from the independent campaign of the Association of American Painters and Sculptors, a group of progressive artists formed in 1912 to oppose the National Academy of Design and to broaden exhibition opportunities for American artists. Davies, Arthur B(owen), the president of the group, and Kuhn, Walt were determined to present an international survey for the first in what was to have been a series of exhibitions. The Armory Show was modelled on the Sonderbund exhibition in Cologne (...

Article

Christophe Spaenjers

Set of financial methods, instruments, and business models that are used in the Art market. Important developments since the 1960s include the spreading availability and use of art price information and price indexes (see Art index), the emergence of loans collateralized by artworks, repeated efforts to create art investment structures, and a strong growth in art market advisory services provided by wealth managers and new entrepreneurs (see also Investment).

The first major development has been the spread of art price information and art price indexes over the last half-century. After a few difficult decades, art price levels and public interest in the art market were going up again in the 1950s and 1960s. A number of books on the history of the art market and on art investment that were published around that time—Le Vie Etrange des Objets (1959) by Maurice Rheims, Art as an Investment...

Article

Anne K. Swartz

[A. I. R. Gallery]

Art gallery in New York. Founded in 1972, Artists in Residence, or A. I. R. Gallery, was the first artist-run, not-for-profit gallery dedicated to women artists in the USA. Encouraged by the burgeoning Women’s Movement, a group of women artists wanted to create meaningful opportunities to show their art and have it seen and discussed. There were few options for women creating art to show it since few of the commercial galleries would show work by women. Women artists might occasionally have a single work included in a group show at a commercial gallery, but it was rare, and solo exhibitions of women artists were rarer still. So, women artists had to develop their own occasions to show their art.

A. I. R. Gallery’s mission is “to advance the status of women artists by exhibiting quality work by a diverse group of women artists and to provide leadership and community to women artists.” The gallery was founded by a group of artists—Dotty Attie (...

Article

Matico Josephson

American multi-ethnic arts organization based in New York’s Chinatown. The Asian American Arts Centre (AAAC) and its predecessors, the Asian American Dance Theatre (1974–93) and the Asian Arts Institute (1981–8), emerged from the milieu of the Basement Workshop, the first working group of the Asian American Movement on the East Coast, whose mouthpiece was the journal Bridge (1970–81). After the closing of the Basement Workshop in 1987, the Dance Theatre and the Asian Arts Institute were consolidated as the AAAC.

Directed by Eleanor S. Yung, the Dance Theatre was at the core of the organization’s activities from the 1970s through the early 1990s, performing traditional dances from several Asian cultures alongside modern and postmodern forms. In the early 1980s, the Asian Arts Institute began to hold exhibitions and collect slides of artists’ work and documentation of their activities, working primarily with artists involved in the downtown art scene. Early programs included open studio events for artists working in Chinatown and exhibitions of the work of Arlan Huang (...

Article

Molly K. Dorkin

Prior to the 20th century, the attribution of works of art was not governed by rigid regulations, and art dealers and auctioneers assigned attributions based purely on aesthetic grounds. Works were attributed to the artist whose manner they most closely resembled, but they were not further distinguished on the basis of quality; as a result, many paintings purchased as Renaissance masterpieces in the 18th or 19th century have since been downgraded to studio works or even much later pastiches.

Historically, the patrons who commissioned Old Masters placed a premium on subject-matter rather than originality, and popular narratives were requested by multiple patrons, creating conditions in which the demand for copies could flourish (see Copy). Popular compositions were often reproduced many times: by the master himself, an apprentice in his workshop, or even a later follower or imitator. A master trained his apprentices to approximate his manner as closely as possible, and sold the finished work under his own name. In some cases a master would paint the most important part of a work (such as the faces of the central figures) before delegating the rest to apprentices. Through the 19th century, pupils at prestigious institutions were taught by making copies of works by acknowledged masters. Many pieces, particularly drawings (which for much of their history were working tools, rather than art objects), were unsigned. Damaged or incomplete works of art were subjected to extensive restoration or reworking by later artists, a process that can cloud the question of attribution....

Article

Madeleine Fidell-Beaufort

(b New York, March 17, 1822; d New York, Aug 11, 1904)

American wood-engraver, art dealer, collector and philanthropist. Avery’s career as a wood-engraver and his involvement with the New York publishing trade began in the early 1840s. He worked for, among others, Appleton’s, the New York Herald and Harper’s and produced illustrations for trade cards, religious tracts, adventure stories and children’s books. By the early 1850s Avery had begun compiling humorous books and commissioning drawings from such artist-illustrators as Felix Octavius Carr Darley, John Whetten Ehninger, Augustus Hoppin (1827–96), Tompkins Harrison Matteson and John McLenan (1827–66). His business contacts led to close relationships with such artists as Frederick Church, John F. Kensett and William Trost Richards.

By the late 1850s Avery had begun to collect drawings and small cabinet pictures by local artists. Other art collectors, notably William T. Walters, asked Avery’s advice when commissioning works of art. In 1864 he turned his engraving practice over to ...

Article

Darryl Patrick

(b New York, Nov 9, 1861; d Palm Beach, FL, March 24, 1944).

American collector and businessman . Having founded a major banking house in New York, Bache continued the interest in collecting that had begun when he was young. While living in Paris before World War I he had bought fine antique furniture for his home. After the war he specialized in collecting paintings of Renaissance and Baroque Italian, Flemish, French, Dutch, German and English artists. He often used the services of art dealers René Gimpel (1881–1945) and Joseph Duveen, through whom he purchased such paintings as Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s Billet-doux, Vermeer’s Young Woman Reading and Rembrandt’s Standard-bearer (all New York, Met.). Bache bought Billet-doux for £250,000 in 1919 from Gimpel and, with the help of Duveen, bought the Standard-bearer in 1924 for £60,000. In 1937 he established a foundation to manage the collection for public viewing in his home at 814 Fifth Avenue in New York. In January 1944 he made a will bequeathing the collection to the ...

Article

M. Sue Kendall

(b Philadelphia, PA, Jan 2, 1872; d Chester County, PA, July 24, 1951).

American chemist and collector. Barnes made his fortune after discovering the drug Argyrol in 1902. By 1907 he had become a millionaire. He and his wife moved to the suburb of Merion on Philadelphia’s affluent Main Line and with his new income began to collect paintings of the Barbizon school. In 1910 he renewed contact with a former school friend, William J. Glackens, who introduced him to the works of Maurice Prendergast, Alfred H. Maurer and Charles Demuth, and who encouraged Barnes to collect Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings instead of Barbizon works. In 1912 Barnes gave Glackens £20,000 to go to Paris and buy whatever art he saw fit. Glackens, with the help of Maurer, acquired for Barnes works by Renoir, Degas, van Gogh, Cézanne, Monet, Gauguin, Pissarro, Sisley and Seurat. In Paris, Glackens introduced Barnes to Gertrude and Leo Stein, through whom he became familiar with the work of Picasso and Matisse....

Article

Alexandra Chang

American community-based arts and activist group in New York that flourished from 1971 to 1986. Basement Workshop (Inc.) evolved during the Asian American art movement, inspired by the Black Power and the Third World Liberation movements of the late 1960s. The group of artists, writers, performers, and social activists initially met in a leaky basement at 54 Elizabeth Street located in New York’s Chinatown. Basement moved successively to 22 Catherine Street, 199 Lafayette Street, expanded to include spaces at 7 Eldridge Street and 32 East Broadway, and finally returned to 22 Catherine Street during the collective’s existence from 1971 to 1986.

Basement was co-founded by Danny Yung (b 1943), Eleanor Yung, Peter Pan, Frank Ching (b 1943), and Rocky Chin. Its activities grew from the “Chinatown Report of 1969,” which was headed by Danny Yung and funded by the Ford Foundation. Basement was formally incorporated in ...

Article

S. J. Vernoit

(b New York, Feb 7, 1875; d Monaco, Jan 19, 1968).

British mining consultant and collector of American birth. He was educated at the Columbia School of Mines and at Princeton University; by the age of 28 he was the consulting engineer and assistant general manager of the Guggenheim Exploration Company. In 1913, two years after the death of his first wife, he settled in London and became established as a mining consultant. He married Edith Dunn and bought Baroda House in Kensington Palace Gardens. With one of his associates, Herbert Hoover, later President of the USA (1929–33), he reorganized the Kyshtin mine in the Urals. The Selection Trust Ltd, which he established in 1914 to develop and finance profitable mines throughout the world, made great headway after World War I, and he remained its chairman until 1960. He was naturalized as a British citizen in 1933. In his youth he began collecting a range of items, including Western manuscripts and Chinese snuff bottles, but his main passion was collecting Islamic manuscripts and paintings, early Bibles and rare books, Impressionist paintings, French and Russian gold snuffboxes, 18th-century watches, clocks, and stamps. His interest in the Islamic arts of the book, particularly manuscripts of the Koran, was stimulated by frequent visits to Cairo, where he wintered between the wars. Although he had no knowledge of Arabic, Persian, or Turkish, he was keen to give scholars access to his collection and loaned manuscripts to many exhibitions. In ...

Article

(b Mexico, 1863; d Biarritz, Jan 13, 1953).

Spanish collector. His family was of Basque origin, though he was born in Mexico. After making his fortune in Mexico, he spent the last 40 years of his life in Biarritz, and at his villa Zurbiak he built up a substantial art collection. He had been educated partly in Paris, thereafter retaining a love for France; in 1902 he made a donation to the Cabinet des Médailles of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. His collection of paintings was built up slowly, and he often consulted with museum curators before purchasing works. His tastes were eclectic, covering many periods of art, and determined more than anything by the quality of a work. Often he bought paintings on behalf of the nation so as to prevent them being lost to foreign countries, as was the case with Antoine-Jean Gros’s Bonaparte on the Bridge at Arcole (1796; Paris, Louvre). His collection was distributed throughout his villa, but for the most distinguished works, those destined for the Louvre, he had a special gallery built. He was a foreign associate of the Académie des Beaux-Arts and a member of the Conseil des Musées Nationaux. After his death 21 important paintings were donated to the ...

Article

Malcolm Gee

(b Berlin, Jan 6, 1914; d Paris, Feb 23, 2007).

German American art dealer and collector, active in France. Berggruen came from a middle-class Jewish family. He immigrated to the USA in 1937, and was granted American citizenship in 1941. He served in the army between 1942 and 1945. After a period working as a journalist in Munich and in the museum section of UNESCO, he set up as an art dealer in Paris in 1948, based from 1950 onwards in a modest gallery on the Rue de l’Université. The Berggruen Gallery specialized in modern graphic art, including Pablo Picasso, and was the principal source in Paris of the work of Paul Klee. Berggruen retired in 1980 and focused on his personal collection of classic modern art. In 1996 Berggruen was invited to put his collection on public display in Berlin in what was originally barracks for the Gardes du Corps, designed by Friedrich August Stüler, where it was known as the Berggruen Collection. In ...