Friday, May 13, 2016
Molly will interview leading Los Angeles and New York avant garde art dealer Virginia Dwan.
Virginia Dwan is noted as an American art collector, art patron, philanthropist, visionary and founder of the Dwan Light Sanctuary in Montezuma, New Mexico. She is the former owner and executive director of Dwan Gallery Los Angeles (1959–1967) and Dwan Gallery New York (1965–1971), a bicoastal contemporary art gallery closely identified with the American movements of Minimalism, Conceptual Art, and Earthworks.
Among the earlier artists Virginia Dwan represented were Robert Rauschenberg, Yves Klein, Ad Reinhardt, Joan Mitchell, Franz Kline, and Philip Guston. Later, Dwan organized several influential exhibitions, including “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”, an exhibition of Pop Art held in Los Angeles in November 1962. This show belongs to a substantial group of exhibitions in Los Angeles between 1962 and 1963 that heralded the arrival of Pop as a major artistic style in the early 1960s. While “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” largely focused on New York artists, it also included the work of Edward Kienholz. Another important exhibition included “Boxes” (1964), which featured box-shaped works by an international group of artists including Los Angeles sculptors Larry Bell, Tony Berlant, Edward Kienholz, Ron Miyashiro, and Ken Price.
Virginia Dwan also promoted earthworks. Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty was financed in part by a $9,000 grant from the Virginia Dwan Gallery in 1970. In 1985, Dwan donated Michael Heizer’s project Double Negative (1969), two 100-foot-long cuts facing each other across a canyon in Mormon Mesa, Nevada, to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
Since the late 1960s, the dealer and philanthropist Virginia Dwan has quietly donated art to museums all over the country. Among her gifts are Duchamp’s famed “L.H.O.O.Q.,” a reproduction of the Mona Lisa with a mustache and beard in pencil, which has gone to the Norton Simon Museum in Los Angeles, and six photographic images by Mr. Heizer to the Whitney Museum of American Art, and works by Robert Smithson and Sol LeWitt to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
It is, however, Virginia Dwan’s personal collection, a time capsule of the art world from the late 1950s through the 1970s, that museums around the country have been coveting for years. Ms. Dwan’s own holdings reflect her commitment to earth artists like Smithson, Walter de Maria and Mr. Heizer; to contemporary French figures including Yves Klein, Arman, Tinguely, Martial Raysse and Niki de Saint Phalle; and to Minimalists like Sol LeWitt, Carl Andre and Dan Flavin.
As such, Virginia Dwan has promised 250 works to the National Gallery of Art in Washington. The gift consists of works by 52 artists and includes 34 sculptures, 15 paintings, 159 prints and drawings, 39 photographs, 2 films and Carl Andre’s “Seven Books of Poetry.” It also complements other contemporary art collections that have been left to the National Gallery, including that of Herbert and Dorothy Vogel and the Meyerhoff collection.
The Dwan Gallery Archives are held at the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. and at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.
From September 30, 2016 – January 29, 2017, the National Gallery in Washington, DC will feature the exhibition:“From Los Angeles to New York: The Dwan Gallery, 1959–1971.”
From Los Angeles to New York: The Dwan Gallery, 1959–1971
From Los Angeles to New York: The Dwan Gallery, 1959–1971 September 30, 2016 – January 29, 2017 East Building