Before there was Larry Gagosian, David Zwirner, or (ahem) David Nolan, a cohort of trailblazing female gallerists dominated a tony stretch of Madison Avenue in New York City—and have left a tremendous mark on art history.
The current exhibition “Mad Women” at David Nolan Gallery sees curators Damon Brandt and Valentina Branchini spotlight four of these women: Jill Kornblee, Martha Jackson, Eleanore Saidenberg, and Eleanor Ward. The show also revisits the programs they created in the heady 1960s.
The kinds of shows they put on could very well be staged in today and still feel fresh, smart, and astute. Eleanore Saidenberg ruled the roost, securing sole representation of Pablo Picasso in North America beginning in 1955, and showing the likes of Jean Dubuffet and Paul Klee, all while dispensing advice and support to her fellow female dealers on Madison Avenue.
Kornblee’s eponymous gallery, opened in 1961, gave artists Rosalyn Drexler, Alex Hay, Dan Flavin, and Michelangelo Pistoletto inaugural exhibitions. Meanwhile, Eleanor Ward’s Stable Gallery showed Joan Mitchell, Paul Thek, and Andy Warhol. Finally, Martha Jackson, who had “her own brand of personality and magic,” forged lasting bonds with the artists she showed, from John Chamberlain and Lucio Fontana to Bob Thompson and Louise Nevelson.
The members of this Madison Avenue cohort “each possessed that essential talent of a keen and prescient eye working in tandem with an innovative and responsive approach to a business,” write the curators. “Their shared passion and courage, exemplified by the advocacy and connoisseurship reflected in each of their exhibition programs, remain a testament to a tenacity and brilliance that is worthy of closer attention.”
is on view at David Nolan Gallery through October 22, 2022.
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