Portrait of an Art Gallery
Recollections and numerous reproductions tell the story of a twentieth-century art dealer and impresario who played an essential role in bringing the avant-garde to New York.
Julien Levy (1906-1981) was one of the most influential art dealers of the twentieth century. The Julien Levy Gallery, which opened in New York in 1931 and closed in 1949, played an essential role in the shift of the cultural avant-garde from Paris to New York. It was the first American gallery to sponsor a show on Surrealism and to champion Neoromanticism, Magic Realism, and Machine Abstraction. Luis Buñuel's film Un Chien Andalou and Joseph Cornell's Rose Hobart were first screened in the gallery. Among the artists Levy exhibited were Eugene Atget, Constantin Brancusi, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Joseph Cornell, Salvador Dali, Walt Disney, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Walker Evans, Leonor Fini, Naum Gabo, Alberto Giacometti, Arshile Gorky, Frida Kahlo, Fernand Léger, René Magritte, Lee Miller, Man Ray, Ben Shahn, and Dorothea Tanning. Levy also initiated the cocktail opening.This book, which accompanies a retrospective exhibition on the Julien Levy Gallery in New York, includes reproductions of paintings, photographs, and film stills from museum and private collections, as well as of art and ephemera from Levy's own collection. The book offers recollections of Levy and his gallery from several angles. Dorothea Tanning reminisces about her lifelong friendship with her first dealer. Ingrid Schaffner surveys the evolution of Levy's enterprise from combination curiosity shop, exhibition space, and performance site into a model for the contemporary art gallery. Steven Watson discusses Levy's personal and professional affiliations with the "Harvard Moderns"—Alfred Barr, Jr., and A. Everett Austin among them. Carolyn Burke looks at Levy's complex relationship with his mother-in-law, poet and painter Mina Loy, who acted as his agent and mentor in Paris. Finally, Lisa Jacobs provides a chronology of the events of the gallery and of Levy's life. Published in conjunction with an exhibition at the Equitable Gallery, New York.