The Pacific Standard Time show has been a big opportunity for Los Angeles to explore its history as an art market. The Los Angeles Times looks at the area’s dealers starting with the much-chronicled Ferus but going farther:
there were other sophisticated, risk-taking dealers in town. One was Nicholas Wilder, an eccentric Easterner who drove a Bentley and discovered David Hockney and Bruce Nauman. Molly Barnes showed witty conceptualist John Baldessari; David Stuart represented Dennis Hopper.
Two of the period’s other key galleries were — despite the machismo of much of the art scene — run by women.
Ferus’ chief rival was Virginia Dwan, heiress to a founder of the Minnesota-based conglomerate 3M, who had opened her gallery in 1959 on Westwood’s Broxton Avenue. “We pretended that this was an art center,” she says now from New York, “with a lot of collectors. But that wasn’t really true.”
Dwan had an interest in the new pop-inflected work, but she also wanted to expose Californians to the best art coming from New York (Rauschenberg’s combines) and France (the nouveaux réalistes, among them Yves Klein).
In contrast to Blum, whose bespoke style disguised that he was mostly broke, Dwan was well funded. It gave her gallery creative freedom, she says. “I was looking for things that resonated for me. I was quite young at the time, and I was open to the impact of certain artists of the time, such as Klein and [Ad] Reinhardt.”
Dwan could not resist the pull of New York: In 1965 she opened a second gallery there, and by 1969 she closed her Westwood space, which reopened as Doug Christmas’ influential Ace Gallery.
In New York, she became an important dealer of minimalism and Earthworks. “I think I felt that way since I was a teenager — that New York was where you went to make it.”
Galleries Fostered LA’s Postwar Art Scene (Los Angeles Times)