Wednesday, April 7, 2010

An Incomplete History of the Dwan Gallery, 1969-1971

Advertisement in the Village Voice, January 2, 1969

I'm sure Google's Village Voice archive will get old for me, but it hasn't yet. Its trove of columns from art critic John Perreault in the 1960s and 1970s — thank you to Greg Allen for the recommendation — promises hours of pleasure, offering rich tangents on topics like the best SoHo bars, invective against New York City housing rules, and the occasional aphorism — for example, "Liking everything is more interesting than liking nothing. You are what you like."

Perhaps the greatest joy, though, can be found in the advertising section of each issue, which is filled with crisp, little rectangles that informed pre-Internet readers what was at the galleries each week. Among that incredible crop, the ads from the Virginia Dwan Gallery are particularly interesting. Dwan operated a Los Angeles gallery from 1959 to 1967 and a New York gallery from 1965 to 1971. (When she closed her L.A. space, its director, John Weber — later an independent gallerist — joined her in New York.) She showed some of the century's most ambitious, important art in those spaces — and elsewhere around the United States. Michael Heizer's desert projects? Smithson's Spiral Jetty? Walter De Maria's Lighting Field? They were all funded, in part, by Dwan.

For all its merits, the Voice archive is still a bit incomplete, so I've gone through and sliced out just the Dwan ads that ran during the fullest part of that archive, from 1969 to 1971, the year that she shut down the gallery. ''Unfortunately, the I.R.S. doesn't let you lose money endlessly," she told Michael Kimmelman in a brilliant 2003 New York Times profile, in which the two of them visited the not-yet-opened Dia:Beacon, which houses work by a number of her former artists. Dwan continued, "They can start considering the business a hobby." As the ads show, she had a pretty unbelievable run.

January 9, 1969

January 30, 1969

February 6, 1969

March 6, 1969

April 4, 1969

May 22, 1969

April 29, 1969

October 2, 1969

October 30, 1969

November 27, 1969

December 4, 1969

January 8, 1970

February 12, 1970

March 12, 1970

April 2, 1970

April 9, 1970

May 5, 1970

October 9, 1970

November 5, 1970

January 7, 1971

January 14, 1971

February 4, 1970

February 11, 1971

March 4, 1971

March 11, 1971

April 1, 1971

April 8, 1971

April 29, 1971

May 6, 1971

June 3, 1971

June 10, 1971


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