Anthony Haden Guest makes the excellent point that art history fails to tap the resources of art dealers. Haden Guest does this by way of anecdote using a conversation with Irving Blum (far left in the picture with Andy Warhol):
He was venting. Blum has a track record. Most famously he gave Andy Warhol his first show as a fine artist — Campbell’s Soup Cans at $100 apiece — at Ferus, his Los Angeles gallery, but he also gave early shows to Jasper Johns, Rauschenberg, Lichtenstein, you name it. His theme was that the contribution to art history made by commercial dealers was routinely dissed, by museum folk in particular.
This was something he had thought about since the early Sixties. He had just taken the LA artist Richard Diebenkorn aboard at Ferus and was lunching with the artist’s former dealer, Paul Kantor. Blum says: ‘I was so astonished by the enormous amount of information that he had, just off the top, that I blurted out, “Jesus, Paul! You’re a resource! Do museums call you all the time?” And he looked at me and he said, “They never call me.”
‘Well, in the same way I have had a 50-year career in the art world. And I’m never called. And I know many, many dealers. And they’re never called. It’s this kind of bugaboo that dealers have a commercial interest, and have a prejudice — which is total bullshit. If a museum called me I would bend over backwards to be careful in my analysis… to be precise… and to be informative.
Art dealers, the forgotten makers of art history – Spears.