Skip to main content

Dwan Gallery (Los Angeles, California and New York, New York) records, 1959-circa 1982, bulk 1959-1971

Dwan Gallery (Los Angeles, California and New York, New York) records, 1959-circa 1982, bulk 1959-1971

Dwan Gallery (New York, N.Y.)

Representative image for Dwan Gallery (Los Angeles, California and New York, New York) records, 1959-circa 1982, bulk 1959-1971

This site provides access to the Dwan Gallery (Los Angeles, Calif. and New York, N.Y.) records in the Archives of American Art that were digitized in 2014, and total 2,653 images.

Funding for the digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Collection Information

Size: 2.3 linear feet

Summary: The Dwan Gallery records consist primarily of files of exhibitions curated by Virginia Dwan at Dwan Galleries in Los Angeles (1959-1967) and New York (1965-1971). Found within this nearly comprehensive set of exhibition files are lists of exhibited works, price lists, photographs, posters, slides or color transparencies of installations, invitations, full-size posters, magazine and newspaper clippings, and exhibition catalogs.

Biographical/Historical Note

In 1959, Virginia Dwan opened her first gallery in the Westwood Village neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. In 1965, Virginia Dwan moved to New York City and founded an east coast branch of the Dwan Gallery. Exhibitions at the Dwan Gallery showed Abstract Expressionist artists, Nouveaux Realistes artists, Land, and Minimilist artists. Dwan recognized that many of her shows were not considered salable but continued to show the avant-garde. The Dwan Gallery Los Angeles closed in mid-1967 but the New York branch remained open until 1971.

Provenance

The Dwan Gallery records were donated in 1996 by Virginia Dwan, the former owner of the gallery.

Related Materials

Also found within the Archives of American Art is an interview with Virginia Dwan conducted March 21 through June 1, 1984 by Charles Stuckey.

Bard College's Center for Curatorial Studies and Art in Contemporary Culture holds a similar collection of Dwan Gallery materials at the Library and Archive, consisting of eight binders of materials relating to the exhibitions held at the Dwan Gallery - Los Angeles from 1959-1967 and the Dwan Gallery - New York from 1965-1971. The binders contain press releases, exhibition checklists, black and white 8 X 10 photographs, announcements, newspaper and magazine reviews, and other ephemera.

Funding

Funding for the digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

A Finding Aid to the Dwan Gallery Records, 1959-circa 1982, bulk 1959-1971, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.dwangall
Author
Finding aid prepared by Jayna M. Hanson
Biographical/Historical note
In 1959, Virginia Dwan opened her first gallery on 1091 Broxton Avenue in the Westwood Village neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. Her independent wealth allowed her to open a gallery without worrying about business and sales. Three years after opening, the Dwan Gallery moved into a new Westwood Village space especially designed to express the gallery's contemporary aesthetic. In 1965, Virginia Dwan moved to New York City and founded an east coast branch of the Dwan Gallery at 29 West 57th Street.
Early exhibitions at the Dwan Gallery showed Abstract Expressionist artists and works of art from New York which Dwan consigned from other galleries. After traveling to New York and France, Virginia Dwan's interests and tastes manifested in exhibitions by 1961 with Yves Klein. Through Klein, Dwan made connections to other Nouveaux Réalistes artists that the gallery featured in solo and group shows. Later exhibitions featured Land and Minimilist artists. Dwan recognized that many of her shows were not considered salable but continued to show the avant-garde. She saw the gallery as an opportunity to expose the public to different styles of art.
Virginia Dwan maintained a close and personal relationship with many of her artists. She allowed large stipends to gallery artists and invited them to spend time at her home in Malibu, California. When working with artists concentrating on found objects, Dwan would accompany them on scavenger hunts and shopping trips. In the case of Robert Smithson and other Land Art artists, she traveled to offsite locations to visit works of art in progress. Dwan relied on her longtime gallery director, John Weber to interact with collectors as she preferred to maintain her connection with the artists.
The Dwan Gallery Los Angeles closed in mid-1967 but the New York branch remained open. By 1971, Virginia Dwan felt pressure to support her thirteen artists through a period of economic insecurity. She decided to close the gallery secretly and only informed her artists at the last minute. The final exhibition at Dwan Gallery New York closed in June of 1971.
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged into two series:
Series 1: Los Angeles Exhibition Files, 1959-1967, after 1981 (Box 1-2, 5, OV6, OV8; 1.3 linear feet)
Series 2: New York Exhibition Files, 1965-1971, after 1982 (Box 2-4, OV7; 1.0 linear feet)
Scope and Contents note
The Dwan Gallery records measure 2.3 linear feet and consist primarily of files of exhibitions curated by Virginia Dwan at Dwan Galleries in Los Angeles (1959-1967) and New York (1965-1971). Found within this nearly comprehensive set of exhibition files may be lists of exhibited works, price lists, photographs, slides or color transparencies of installations, invitations, full-size posters, magazine and newspaper clippings and exhibition catalogs.
Artists that held exhibitions at the Dwan Gallery in New York and Los Angeles include: Robert Goodnough, Robert Richenburg, Larry Rivers, Philip Guston, Yves Klein, Salvatore Scarpitta, Arakawa, Martial Raysse, Ad Reinhardt, Arman, Franz Kline, Edward Kienholz, Claes Oldenburg, Niki de Sainte Phalle, Joan Mitchell, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Morris, Dan Flavin, Raymond Parker, Kenneth Snelson, Carl Andre, Sol LeWitt, Robert Smithson, and Anastasi. Also, the exhibition files are nearly comprehensive and include:
Language to be Looked at and/or Things to be Read
annual series (1967-1970),
Boxes
(1964),
Earth Works
(1968),
My Country 'tis of Thee
(1962) and
10
(1967 and 1968). Many of the multiple artist shows were created and organized by gallery director John Weber and/or Virginia Dwan. Many of these exhibition files include full-sized posters and panoramic photos showing installations.
Also found are records created by a consulting firm hired by the Dwan Gallery to inventory the exhibition files prior to donation to the Archives of American Art. These guides appear at the beginning of each series and outline a chronology of exhibitions held at each branch.
Provenance
The Dwan Gallery records were donated in 1996 by Virginia Dwan, the former owner of the gallery.
Separated Materials note
Dwan Gallery exhibition catalogs that were donated to the Archives in 1989 were transferred to the Smithsonian Institution American Art and National Portrait Gallery Library.
Bard College's Center for Curatorial Studies and Art in Contemporary Culture holds Dwan Gallery materials related to exhibitions in the Library and Archives.
Related Archival Materials note
Also found within the Archives of American Art is an interview with Virginia Dwan conducted March 21 through June 1, 1984 by Charles Stuckey.
Processing Information note
The records were fully processed and described by Jayna M. Hanson in 2008. In 2013, the papers were digitized with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Additional Forms Available

The collection was digitized in its entirety in 2013 and is available via the Archives of American Art's website.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Dwan Gallery (Los Angeles, California and New York, New York) records, 1959-circa 1982, bulk 1959-1971. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

  • No downloads available