JOAN WASHBURN’S POST-WAR ART GALLERY MAKES ITS WAY TO DALLAS ART FAIR IN 2015.
oan Washburn is an art dealer and founder of Washburn Gallery
in New York. For more than forty years, the Washburn Gallery
has organized thoughtful exhibitions of works by major 19th
and 20th century American artists.
Opening in 1971, the gallery was straightaway acknowledged by
curators and collectors alike for the quality and scholarship of its
shows and as such established a reputation as one of New York’s
preeminent spaces. For example, typical of Ms. Washburn is to go
to the roots of a well-known artist and trace surprising connections
to other artists that hitherto may have been overlooked.
Since its opening, the gallery has continued an active,
innovative schedule of exhibitions including the Stieglitz Group,
American Abstract Artists of the 1930s and 1940s, the Abstract
Expressionists, and contemporary artists. Memorable for me was
encountering Anne Ryan’s work for the first time in the stunning
exhibition, Shapes of Materials, 1948–1954, held at the gallery in 2008.
Ryan was a writer-turned-artist, who made an important contribution
to the medium of collage. For me Ryan’s deeply personal approach
to art-making corresponds with Ms. Washburn’s sincere attitude
to exhibition-making. Moreover, throughout her influential career,
Ms. Washburn has remained at all times, welcoming, generous, and
genuinely fun to be with.
Last month I had a chance to catch up with this legendary
gallerist on her years in the business and exhibiting at the Dallas
Art Fair in 2015.
GAVIN DELAHUNTY: What is the most challenging aspect of operating a
JOAN WASHBURN: Paying the rent.
GD: What has changed the most since you first opened your gallery in 1971?
JW: The number of galleries, the number of artists, the spiral of
prices and, fortunately, the number of collectors.
GD: Describe your art education.
WITH GAVIN DELAHUNTY
Left: Washburn Gallery installation photo, Doug Ohlson, Panel Paintings from the 1960s, September 15–November 12, 2011. Right: Anne Ryan, Untitled (no. 179), c. 1948-
54, Collage, 8 7/8 x 7 3/8 in., Signed l.r.
Photo of Joan Washburn, courtesy of New York Social Diary