Skip to main content

André Emmerich Gallery records, circa 1929-2009

Historical Note

André Emmerich (1924-2007) was one of America's most noted contemporary art dealers and opened the André Emmerich Gallery in New York in 1954. The gallery showcased contemporary art, particularly Color Field painting and monumental sculpture.
André Emmerich was born on October 11, 1924 in Frankfurt, Germany. From age 7 he was raised in Amsterdam before emigrating with his family to New York City in 1940. He studied at Oberlin College and developed an interest in pre-Columbian art and antiquities. After graduation, he spent ten years in Paris working as a writer and editor before returning to New York. He married Constance Emmerich and the couple had three sons, Adam, Noah, and Toby.
In 1954 Emmerich opened the André Emmerich Gallery at 18 East 77th Street and initially specialized in contemporary American and European art and pre-Columbian antiquities. In 1956, the gallery moved to 17 East 64th Street, and in 1959 to the Fuller Building at 41 East 57th Street. Emmerich wrote two books about pre-Columbian art, Art Before Columbus in 1963 and Sweat of the Sun, Tears of the Moon: Gold and Silver in Pre-Columbian Art in 1965.
In 1961, Emmerich learned that French and Company, a gallery advised by art critic Clement Greenberg, was closing its department of contemporary art. French and Company had represented Color Field painters Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, and Jules Olitski. Emmerich immediately invited Louis and Noland to be represented by his gallery. In 1966 he extended the invitation to Olitski as well, and Helen Frankenthaler joined soon after. The gallery's reputation as one of the earliest and most important promoters of Color Field painters was launched.
In addition to Color Field painters, the gallery represented, among others, Pierre Alechinsky, Karel Appel, Milton Avery, Herbert Ferber, Sam Francis, John Graham, Al Held, David Hockney, Hans Hofmann, John Hoyland, Judy Pfaff, Miriam Schapiro, and Anne Truitt.
Until January 1983, sales of pre-Columbian art primarily went through an entity called André Emmerich Inc. (AE Inc.), while sales of contemporary went through the André Emmerich Gallery Inc. (AEG). In 1983, the two entities were merged and operated under the name André Emmerich Gallery Inc.
In 1971, Emmerich began operating a downtown gallery at 420 West Broadway, in SoHo, in space shared with Leo Castelli, Virginia Dwan, and Ileana Sonnabend. In 1972, Emmerich opened a branch of his gallery in Zurich. He incorporated the Galerie André Emmerich Gmbh primarily for the purpose of leasing gallery space in Zurich. Until February 1974, sales of Pre-Columbian art in Zurich were made by an entity called André Emmerich Gallery Inc., New York Filiale Zurich. The Galerie André Emmerich Gmbh was officially liquidated in May 1982. The Filiale was formally closed in October 1996. Galerie André Emmerich also enjoyed a short-lived joint venture with Gimpel & Hanover.
André Emmerich served as president of the Art Dealers Association of America from 1972-1974 and again from 1991-1994.
Emmerich opened a private 150 acre sculpture park, Top Gallant Farm, on his estate in Pawling, New York, in 1982, where he stored and exhibited monumental sculptures by artists his gallery represented including Anthony Caro, Beverly Pepper, Alexander Liberman, Alexander Calder, Mark di Suvero, George Rickey, and Keith Haring. David Hockney painted waves onto floor of the property's swimming pool in 1986. Emmerich operated the sculpture park until 1996.
Emmerich sold his gallery to Sotheby's in 1996. He continued to be affiliated with the gallery until Sotheby's closed the gallery in 1998. Emmerich then began work on his memoir, My Life With Art, excerpts of which have been published in Art News, the Wall Street Journal, and The New Criterion.
Andre Emmerich died in New York 2007 and is survived by his second wife, Susanne Emmerich.