“Gallerists who show contemporary art, who represent a group of artists they believe in (or whose work inspires faith in them), engage in the considerable professional and financial risks involved in welcoming new works, particularly those of a controversial nature.” 

Alberto Alvarez: Director, Art Nova Gallery

An art dealer is a polyvalent personality, positioned amidst the tensions of the institutionalization of art, or the circle of art—as the theorist George Dickie called itif we consider the art dealer belongs to those people who “(…) acts on behalf of a certain social institution (the art world) that has conferred upon them the status of candidates for appreciation,”¹ and beyond this, for their research, understanding, distribution, and commercialization of art. These are spaces where the art dealer can not only define contemporary art trends but also shape the interests of the public, primarily collectors, who come to them. 

Img.1: Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler and Pablo Picasso at the Californie. Cannes, Summer 1957 

https://celebracionpicasso.es/en/noticia/bibliography-daniel-henry-kahnweiler-road-cubism

Within the art world, the art dealer plays a leading role as the bridge between artists and collectors, operating within the intimate confines of the art gallery, where the relationships between artist, space, market, and collecting are defined. 

Img.2: The abstract gallery of Peggy Guggenheim’s museum-gallery Art of This Century, 30 West 57th Street, New York 1942 

https://www.guggenheim-venice.it/en/art/in-depth/peggy-guggenheim/art-of-this-century/ 

Gallerists are not merely passionate about art; a gallerist is a professional who navigates within a range of diverse competencies. These competencies have shaped the identity of their gallery space, centered on the mission of advancing the careers of the artists they represent through a solid program of exhibitions, be they physical or virtual.

Img.3: Photograph of Leo Castelli taken by Lorenzo Tricoli 

https://www.thecollector.com/leo-castelli-gallery/ 

The importance of the gallerists as professionals lies in their role as visionaries, in their ability to assess artworks. Gallerists are qualified to meticulously select artworks that align with their vision. In this regard, “A skilled gallerist possesses a keen eye for talent and a deep understanding of art history, enabling them to identify emerging artists with unique perspectives and established artists with exceptional skills.² 

Img.4: Gagosian 

Multiple Locations  

https://www.frieze.com/gallery/gagosian-gallery 

The vision of gallerists is further expanded by their networking power and marketing capabilities, with the power aimed at promoting and disseminating the work of the artists they champion. They achieve this by acting as a bridge between artists and collectors, curators and exhibitions, all brought about by individual or group exhibitions, participation in art fairs or collaborations with other galleries, and, lately, by the strategic use of modern marketing tools: social media campaigns, press releases, and partnerships with other art institutions. 

¹ George Dickie (1997): The Art Circle. A Theory of Art, Chicago, Chicago Spectrum Press, p. 20 

² Faster Capital (2024): Historia del arte Historia del arte develada la perspectiva de un galerista”, in: Faster Capital, https://fastercapital.com/es/contenido/Historia-del-arte–Historia-del-arte-develada–la-perspectiva-de-un-galerista.html 

Img.1: Known as the Cubism’s dealer, Daniel-Henri Kahnweiler (1884-1979) opened his first gallery in Paris in 1907 and, until the outbreak of World War I, he hired Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, André Derain, Fernand Léger, and Juan Gris, among others, whose works he exhibited. 

Img.2: The dual function of Art of This Century (a permanent collection and a selling gallery with temporary shows) aptly captures Peggy’s position on the crossroads between a European past and an American future. The permanent collection, installed with remarkable conceptual inventiveness in Frederick Kiesler’s outlandish abstract, Surrealist, and Kinetic galleries, was a further tessera in the mosaic of the New York artists’ highly developed sensitivity to European art. The small temporary exhibition spaces, or Daylight Gallery, were the venue for the opportunities that Peggy provided for several of those same artists. 

Img.3: The Leo Castelli Gallery is a venerated New York stalwart. Dedicated to displaying a wide breadth of post-war art, its founder Leo Castelli is now reputed as a pivotal point of influence for the American avant-garde. Today, his gallery’s location has migrated from its original Manhattan townhouse to a posh residence at 18 East 77th Street, where it still showcases the world’s most cutting-edge contemporary artists. See: “How The Leo Castelli Gallery Changed American Art Forever”, by  Christina Elia, BA Art History, https://www.thecollector.com/leo-castelli-gallery/ 

Img.4: Established by Larry Gagosian in Los Angeles in 1980, Gagosian is a global gallery specializing in modern and contemporary art that employs more than three hundred people at nineteen exhibition spaces across the United States, Europe, and Asia. In addition to its galleries, Gagosian is at the forefront of the digital marketplace with innovative online viewing rooms, timed to coincide with major art fairs, that include highly desirable works by today’s leading artists, transparent pricing, historical scholarship, and insightful market analysis. See: https://gagosian.com/about/about-larry-gagosian/ and https://www.frieze.com/gallery/gagosian-gallery 

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