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An intriguing read on how New York art dealers' power spread



Laura de Coppet, Alan Jones - The art dealers. A review by the Art Gallery Hub

The Art Dealers
The powers behind the scene tell how the art world works

Author: Laura de Coppet, Alan Jones
Publisher: New York, Clarkson N. Potter, 1985
ISBN: 0-517-55302-3



Why you should read 'The Art Dealers'

If you look for a solid, well-documented historic overview, such as 'Landscape with Figures', you could well be disappointed. 'The Art Dealers' was never intended to be a reference book on the New York art gallery scene.

Yet, it is a glorious read that captures the New York art gallery spirit at the beginning of the eighties spiced with a load of interesting stories and anecdotes.

The conversational tone invites to read between the lines revealing a lot of information beyond the anecdotical. Despite the sometimes hagiographical approach you sense how these dealers really influenced the scene and shaped the art gallery world far beyond New York.


As a first reaction there is nostalgia

How the art dealers are presented and talk about their role and their 'mission' reads like 'paradise lost'.

A more distant attitude immediately reveals the continuity of it all. Even if the majority of dealers in the selection are less known or even seem forgotten, their influence as 'art gallery legends' is still palpable. Moreover some of the interviewees (or their immediate successors) are still omnipresent on the international art gallery scene.

One of the more interesting aspects of the book is to read 'first hand' how the earliest art dealers look at their role in the switch from Paris to New York as the centre of gravity and why (and how!) some dealers introduced European artists in the States and vice versa.


Most interviews read like pre-history

It is sometimes difficult to imagine that 'The Art Dealers' is written only one generation ago. It still is surprising to notice how fast the New York art gallery world (and the art world in general) have changed in a much more complex tangle than the historic artist-dealer-collector triangle.

In some interviews there are already glimpses of what will become the role of the auction houses interfering with the gallery world. The coming predominant role of the international art fairs, let alone the web are still completely absent.

After your read you will be amazed how much better you can seize the hierarchy inside the New York gallery scene and also the direct or indirect influence of some galleries. Compared to other 'official' narratives, 'The Art Dealers' adds an intriguing insight on how 'dealer's power' continues to spread its influence over decades.


(*) The hard cover edition was published in 1984. There is also a revised edition of 'The Art Dealers' published in 2002 with a number of new chapters about dealers who entered the New York scene since the 1985 edition.



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