The Fairest of the (Dallas Art) Fair

John Berggruen, John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco
One of a handful of dealers who has been mounting museum-worthy shows for four decades, this acclaimed West Coast gallerist has strong Texas ties. With his longstanding membership in the Art Dealers Association of America and a blue-chip stable stocked with European and American masters (Matisse and Picasso to Thiebaud and Ruscha), Berggruen and wife Gretchen have enviable connections, friendships and a history, particularly in Dallas, dating back to the mid-1970s. This makes exhibiting in the Dallas Art Fair %26#8220;great fun,%26#8221; notes Berggruen, who fondly recalls %26#8220;clients and friends Ray and Patsy Nasher%26#8221; as well as %26#8220;Margaret McDermott, Anne Bass, and Anne and John Marion.%26#8221; Major collector Robert Hoffman was even a wedding guest at the Berggruen nuptials in 1985. The San Francisco gallerists have also been attendees at Two x Two for AIDS and Art. And for Berggruen, art dealing is literally in his blood. His father was legendary European gallerist Heinz Berggruen, a confidant of Picasso who left his collection of modern greats to museums in the United States and even Germany %26#8212; a significant gesture for a man of German Jewish heritage who had fled Berlin in the 1930s for San Francisco, where he was one of SFMOMA%26#8217;s first curators before %26#8220;Modern%26#8221; was in the museum%26#8217;s name. While he was not raised by his father, the young Berggruen went to Paris in 1966 to get to know him and, after stints at galleries in London and New York, moved home to San Francisco to found his own gallery in 1970. Since then, Berggruen has presented important painting and sculpture by 20th-century greats including Georgia O%26#8217;Keeffe (the artist%26#8217;s first exhibition in a San Francisco gallery), Robert Rauschenberg, Wayne Thiebaud, Mark di Suvero, Dallas native David Bates and Bay Area figurative artists Elmer Bischoff, Richard Diebenkorn, Nathan Oliveira and David Park.

Chris D%26#8217;Amelio, D%26#8217;Amelio Terras Gallery, New York
%26#8220;We looked at each other and said, %26#8216;Are we opening a gallery?%26#8217;%26#8221; recalls Chris D%26#8217;Amelio of the plunge he and Lucien Terras took in 1996. The two became acquainted while working at Paula Cooper, notes D%26#8217;Amelio, who points out the pair%26#8217;s %26#8220;personalities and strengths are complementary and beneficial for clients and artists: I%26#8217;m verbal, direct, jumping at opportunities, American. Lucien is European, cerebral, patient, quieter.%26#8221; Together the astute dealers blazed a trail, forming D%26#8217;Amelio Terras as %26#8220;one of the original seven galleries in Chelsea %26#8212; now there are 300.%26#8221; He remembers a time when the district was a remote outpost braved by a handful of curators and collectors: %26#8220;No one would go unless they were headed to Dia.%26#8221; Flash forward a dozen years, and the gallery is a Chelsea anchor, with a reputation for presenting artists %26#8220;with independent ideas who are working within an area where they develop a distinctive voice.%26#8221; This includes a heavy dose of minimalism but with a conceptual bent, so that what the protagonist creates is %26#8220;extraordinary. So we%26#8217;re glad to champion it,%26#8221; D%26#8217;Amelio says. Many within the gallery%26#8217;s 23-person stable possess ties to Texas, such as San Antonio%26#8211;based, Whitney Biennial%26#8211;exhibited Dario Robleto; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Glassell Core Fellows Demetrius Oliver and Leslie Hewitt (along with fellow D%26#8217;Amelio Terras photographer, Sara VanDerBeek, two of six featured in MoMA%26#8217;s current %26#8220;New Photography 2009,%26#8221; through January 11); London-based Cornelia Parker, whose Artpace residency earned her a Turner Prize nomination; and Corpus Christi%26#8211;raised sculptor Tony Feher. All are contenders to be exhibited in the gallery%26#8217;s booth, as well as (possibly) some early 1950s and 1960s-era Yayoi Kusamas %26#8212; D%26#8217;Amelio helped rediscover the proto-Pop sculptor in the mid-1990s. While you%26#8217;re there, meet Dallas native Trina Gordon, the gallery%26#8217;s associate director, whom D%26#8217;Amelio credits with propelling the idea to exhibit at this year%26#8217;s fair.

Andrew Edlin, Andrew Edlin Galley, New York
One of today%26#8217;s most respected names in outsider art, gallerist Andrew Edlin began %26#8220;through serendipity,%26#8221; he reveals. His epiphany came close to home: by representing his uncle, Paul Edlin, a largely self-taught artist known for his collages formed from postage stamps. The senior Edlin had a hearing problem that contributed to his reclusive nature, so when his nephew stepped in to facilitate art-world connections for him, a gallerist was born. Edlin opened his doors in 2001, moving to a prime first-floor Chelsea space this fall (previously home to Bellwether Gallery), where he continues his commitment to both outsider and trained artists. He maintains a significant international art-fair presence (including exhibiting in this month%26#8217;s Art Basel Miami Beach) and serves on the board of the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore (and is responsible for recruiting DAF founder Chris Byrne to its board). Edlin also represents the estate of arguably the preeminent outsider artist ever: the late Henry Darger, a self-taught master known for epic watercolor sagas of little girls engaged in battle; the painter is the subject of a new volume published by Prestel Press, as well as currently on view at MoMA in %26#8220;Compass in Hand: Selections from the Judith Rothschild Collection,%26#8221; through January 4. Returning to DAF for the second year, Edlin plans to exhibit %26#8220;my home run, Henry Darger,%26#8221; as well as works by other collectible visionaries including Amanda M. Smith, Tom Duncan and Domenico Zindato. He wants DAF visitors to %26#8220;open their eyes%26#8221; to outsider talents, which have a historical precedent of %26#8220;influencing other artists, from the Surrealists onward.%26#8221; Jean Dubuffet, he points out, collected works made by inmates from mental hospitals and insane asylums. %26#8220;A lot of contemporary collectors respond to this material,%26#8221; Edlin says. %26#8220;They sense something different. It%26#8217;s the purest form of art.%26#8221;

Jason McCoy, Jason McCoy Inc., New York
I grew up in the art world %26#8212;%26nbsp;it was never foreign to me,%26#8221; says Connecticut-raised Jason McCoy, whose most impressionable foray included a management and sales position at the Marlborough Print Gallery, where he began in the late 1960s before going on to serve as an assistant director at SoHo pioneer Reese Palley Gallery, then became gallery director for Tibor de Nagy. McCoy launched his own space in 1982 as one of the second or third private dealers in SoHo. In 1989, he moved to the Fuller Building on East 57th Street, a prestigious midtown nexus, which the gallery augments by presenting exhibitions in satellite spaces in Chelsea and Copenhagen. Then there%26#8217;s a fabled family tie: McCoy%26#8217;s uncle and aunt were none other than Mr. and Mrs. Abstract Expressionism, Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, both of whom number among the modern masters he exhibits. %26#8220;My interest is in abstraction in America,%26#8221; he says. %26#8220;We try to be specific, offering very fine examples %26#8212;%26nbsp;masterpieces %26#8212;%26nbsp;which we do not see in isolation, but as part of the broad range of history.%26#8221; McCoy, also a longstanding ADAA member and a returning dealer to the fair, represents current and former Texas artists including Houston-based Terrell James %26#8212;%26#8221;a fine painter who works within a tradition of abstraction%26#8221; %26#8212; and University of Texas graduate Rachel Hovnanian, a former Houstonian whose show now up at the gallery, %26#8220;Power %26amp; Burden of Beauty,%26#8221; skewers gender stereotypes while producing objects of exquisite delicacy. The gallery represents the estate of ab-ex master Stephen Greene %26#8212; whose daughter, Alison de Lima Greene, is the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston%26#8217;s curator of contemporary art and special projects. McCoy also has exhibited paintings by late Whitney-collected Houston artist Virgil Grotfeldt. McCoy praises the %26#8220;Texas eye,%26#8221; which he characterizes as %26#8220;highly sophisticated %26#8230; My aunt [Lee Krasner] was a friend of Mrs. de Menil. And the Menil is one of the most beautiful museums in the world.%26#8221;

Talley Dunn
, Dunn and Brown Contemporary, Dallas
Talley Dunn celebrated the decade marker of her gallery with another noteworthy accomplishment: She was anointed as a member of the Art Dealers Association of America %26#8212; the first time in 40 years that a Dallas gallery has been named to that organization%26#8217;s exalted ranks, which confer authority, staying power and impeccability in an often fluctuating or unreliable art market. Dunn and business partner Lisa Brown have worked together for 18 years, forging their own gallery in 1999. %26#8220;Lisa handles day-to-day details %26#8212; inventory, invoicing, aspects of the building,%26#8221; Dunn says. %26#8220;I work long-range: museum shows, our exhibition schedules, artist selections. But we can fill in for each other at a moment%26#8217;s notice.%26#8221; (Such as the time Lisa gave birth to her first daughter days before Dunn and Brown opened.) The left-brain/right-brain gallerists, whose staff is %26#8220;unintentionally all female%26#8221; are in it for the long haul %26#8212; more than buying or selling, but with an eye to art history. %26#8220;Our goal is to build the reputation, exhibitions and acquisitions of our artists,%26#8221; Dunn says. %26#8220;Also, to guide collectors ... to look at art in different way, as part of a lifestyle.%26#8221; It%26#8217;s no accident that D and B has placed work in the formidable Hoffman, Rachofsky and Rose collections while discovering, then fostering the career of two-time Whitney Biennial%26#8211;exhibited Texas talent Trenton Doyle Hancock. D and B remains Hancock%26#8217;s sole Texas dealer and has recently added Dallas sculptor Erick Swenson %26#8212; %26#8220;an incredible artist, very important,%26#8221; Dunn says. Returning to the Dallas Art Fair again, she plans %26#8220;exciting discoveries that will knock your socks off, by artists we represent,%26#8221; including %26#8220;work that is appealing to private collectors at entry points under $3,000.%26#8221; Watch for Texas notables such as Linda Ridgway, Jeff Elrod and Annette Lawrence, as well as majors outside of Texas %26#8212; Jugnet and Clairet, Amy Myers, Gary Panter and Christian Schumann %26#8212; who also form a significant portion of Dunn and Brown%26#8217;s esteemed stable.
Image: Henry Darger%26#8217;s "Untitled (At Wickey Dan are pursued)," not dated, at Andrew Edlin Gallery
Credit: Copyright Kiyoko Lerner, Courtesy Andrew Edlin Gallery

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