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Oral history interview with Arne (Arnold) Glimcher, 2010 Jan. 6-25

Glimcher, Arnold B., 1938-

Dealer, Producer, Directors (performing arts)


Collection Information

Size: 2 Items, wav files (2 hr., 27 min.), digital; 51 Pages, Transcript

Format: Originally recorded on 2 sound discs. Reformatted in 2010 as 2 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hr., 27 min.

Summary: An interview of Arne Glimcher conducted 2010 Jan. 6 and 25, by James McElhinney, for the Archives of American Art, at PaceWildenstein, in New York, N.Y.

Biographical/Historical Note

Arne Glimcher (1938- ) is an art dealer in New York, N.Y., who founded the Pace Gallery in 1963, which, in 1993, joined up with Wildenstein & Co. to create PaceWildenstein. James McElhinney (1952-) is an artist, writer and educator in New York, N.Y.


This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.

Language Note

English .


Funding for this interview was provided by the Widgeon Point Charitable Foundation. Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.



The following oral history transcript is the result of a recorded interview with Arne Glimcher on 2010 January 6-25. The interview took place at PaceWildenstein in New York, NY, and was conducted by James McElhinney for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Funding for this interview was provided by the Widgeon Point Charitable Foundation.

Arne Glimcher has reviewed the transcript and has made corrections and emendations. The reader should bear in mind that he or she is reading a transcript of spoken, rather than written, prose.


JAMES McELHINNEY:  This is James McElhinney speaking with Arne Glimcher on Wednesday, January the sixth, at Pace Wildenstein Gallery on—

ARNOLD GLIMCHER:  32 East 57th Street.

MR. McELHINNEY:  32 East 57th Street in New York City. Hello.


MR. McELHINNEY:  One of the questions I like to open with is to ask what is your recollection of the first time you were in the presence of a work of art?

MR. GLIMCHER:  Can't recall it because I grew up with some art on the walls. So my mother had some things, some etchings, Picasso and Chagall. So I don't know. I grew up with it. And art was all I was interested in.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Where were you raised?

MR. GLIMCHER:  I was born in Minnesota. Then we moved to Boston when I was seven. So I was raised in Boston really. And when I was seven years old, I was enrolled in art classes at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Saturday morning art classes. And my education was at the Boston museum from the time I was seven. I'd spend Saturday afternoons after the art classes in the museum. Sometimes in the Egyptian wing or Impressionists, Japanese scrolls, Dutch painting. So I sort of knew a lot about art by the time I was 12.

MR. McELHINNEY:  So did either of your parents work in the arts?


MR. McELHINNEY:  What was their—

MR. GLIMCHER:  My father had a cattle ranch.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Had a cattle ranch in Boston?

MR. GLIMCHER:  No, no. Obviously not in Boston, right? In northern Minnesota, where I spent summers 'til I was 16 years old, you know, working on the ranch.

MR. McELHINNEY:  And your mother?

MR. GLIMCHER:  My mother was—she actually painted, but decorative painting. She decorated china plates and things like that. Flower paintings. That was it.

MR. McELHINNEY:  So you were reared in an artistic environment with summers on a ranch. That sounds idyllic.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes, I didn't like the ranch much. But I had paints, and I had crayons, and I had art supplies. And I spent the summer painting. So I spent most of my time making pictures since I was four or five years old.

MR. McELHINNEY:  So initially you were sort of drawn to the idea that you might yourself become an artist.

MR. GLIMCHER:  I went to art school.

MR. McELHINNEY:  You did. Where?

MR. GLIMCHER:  I went to Mass. [Massachusetts] College of Art.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Mass. College of Art.

MR. GLIMCHER:  And then I went to graduate school at Boston University, where I split my major between studio and art history.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Who did you study with there?

MR. GLIMCHER:  You know, I can't remember. I, actually, I went to school with Brice Marden.

MR. McELHINNEY:  People talk a lot about Harold Tovish.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Harold Tovish, right.

MR. McELHINNEY:  How he taught drawing.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Brice and I both were in Harold Tovish's drawing class.

MR. McELHINNEY:  So he was influential. I know that—

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes, but you know it was a bad fit. They were very conservative. Actually Brice and I were both, oh, wild at the time. It's interesting because Brice couldn't make—did not do very well with life drawings. You know, he was an artist not for that kind of art.


MR. GLIMCHER:  So he was making all kinds of cubistic constructions out of the figure. And I was making sort of German Expressionist de Kooning-esque drawings out of the figure. I think the two of us were the least popular students. So the studio part of it was just useless to me. The art history part of it was useful to me.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Who did you study with there?

MR. GLIMCHER:  You know, I can't remember. I can't remember. My real inspiration was an art historian at Mass. College of Art. Her name was Jenny Rembert—her name is Jenny Rembert. She wrote a wonderful book on Mondrian that was published about ten or 15 years ago. And Mondrian was actually her doctoral thesis. And she was very inspiring, and we recognized something in each other. And, you know, I knew much more about the history of art than anybody else around me, than any of my contemporaries, because I was this weird kid who spent all his time in the Boston museum.

MR. McELHINNEY:  So you had a preparation in the history of art and knowledge of art that a lot of your peers lacked. So you made a connection with this art history teacher.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes. And a lot of my peers still lack. [Laughs.] A lot of my colleagues still lack.

MR. McELHINNEY:  I think that—

MR. GLIMCHER:  Well, that's for me to say. You don't have to agree with me. [Laughs.]

MR. McELHINNEY:  No, I agree that I think a lot of people are constantly challenged to try to see what they're looking at. Having an eye is a rare thing.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Well, I think also having knowledge these days in the art world is a rare thing. Being literate is a rare thing.

MR. McELHINNEY:  You mean, like a person who reads and who actually cares about art in general and cultural—

MR. GLIMCHER:  And he knows, you know, somebody who knows in my generation of dealers, knew the philosophy of the periods that we were dealing with. Read the philosophers, read the art historians.


MR. GLIMCHER:  Younger dealers, to my knowledge, right now, don't know a damn thing about it. They're completely uneducated in history.

MR. McELHINNEY:  It's not just a matter of identifying things based on style. But actually understanding the culture in which they were created.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Understanding—exactly. Understanding the context.

MR. McELHINNEY:  The context. So this Jenny Rembert was the first mentor that you had, would you say?

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes. Yes.

MR. McELHINNEY:  And you must have had a lot of encouragement anyway from your mother.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes. Well, I had a sort of split personality at that moment. I was also an actor. So I was involved in a group in Cambridge [MA], theater group. And it was, where was I going to go? Was I going to become an actor, was I going to become an artist? And so, you know, I was encouraged more to be an artist than an actor because my parents thought that was a miserable life. But they also knew that being an artist was a miserable life. And I think my mother hoped that I would, you know, become some designer, commercial designer, you know, like—anyway. But, you know, things have their own way of—

MR. McELHINNEY:  Well, how did you evolve from this plurality of interests and ambitions to one path—or to the path you're on now?

MR. GLIMCHER:  Well, it's so interesting when you think back. I don't like very much thinking back, but I think it's important. I think what you're doing is important, which is why I'm doing this.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Thank you.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Because it's not important for me. I like today; I don't care about 1959. You know, I was the best painter in my class at Mass. College of Art. I had the most facility. I had too much facility. And I also was too much of a critic of my own work. And I certainly have said this publicly. I think you have to have a naïve stupidity. You have to be defined dumbness to be an artist. To think that you can do something with an understanding of what's come before you. And I was really good, but I was not Picasso. And if I wasn't going to be the absolute best, I wasn't going to do it. Now, that's the difference between an artist and not an artist. An artist does not have that objectivity. And an artist doesn't have that choice. Art chooses the artist. The artist doesn't choose art.

I actually think today we're in a terrific crisis because art has become an elective: big money. Go to universities, come out, some idea, have a quick show. And that's not to be gone into. It's just an illustration. I was completely aware of that. I wasn't going to be the best artist in the world. And, you know, I'd work on—I'd make my paintings and had a studio outside of the college. And I'd be satisfied with something, very satisfied with something at the conclusion of the work. And the next morning I'd come into the studio, and I'd say, you know, "Is this as good as Picasso?" And like a Saul Steinberg cartoon, hanging in midair was this giant "No!" [They laugh.] So it wasn't for me. Struggled with it. Decided what I should really do is channel my efforts into the art history—become an art historian. And my objective would be to be the director of the Museum of Modern Art. That was my objective.

My dad died when I was 21. I had never had to work. And there was not as much money as any of us thought. My mother was still young. You know I was quite young; I think I was young to lose my father. And my brother, who is much older than I am—I came late in my family's life. My dad was 50 when I was born; my mother was 40. And my older brother said to me, "You know, there really isn't enough money. Your mother's going to need this for the rest of her life. She's not very old. And you're going to have to go to work." And so the day after he died, we were walking down Newbury Street where all the galleries are in Boston. And I had bought some things before, you know. And my brother— And we came out of the Kanegis Gallery; there was an empty shop at street level. You walked down four stairs. And I said to my brother, "Boy, that's a great place for a gallery right next to the best galleries in the city." He said, "Open a gallery." I said, "You know, I don't want to open a gallery. I have no—it's not even interesting to me." And he said, "Well, you know, you've bought things." Well, what I did is I used to buy two Picasso etchings, and I'd sell one to a friend at a higher price. So I had one that I could keep.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Right. Able to pay.

MR. GLIMCHER:  I bought a portfolio of Käthe Kollwitz. I'd take the two best ones, and I'd sell the other eight. And I had those for nothing. So I had a few things like that. And I was very interested in German Expressionism at the time, which Boston was very, very involved with, and the Boston collectors were involved with. Which is something I don't care very much for today. It's funny how one's tastes change and develop. And so with $2,400 I opened the Pace Gallery. And it was really rough. [Laughs.]

MR. McELHINNEY:  What was the address on Newbury Street?

MR. GLIMCHER:  125, between Dartmouth and Clarendon.

MR. McELHINNEY:  So who would have been there then? Was Alpha Gallery there yet?

MR. GLIMCHER:  No, no. It was the Swetzhoff Gallery, the Kanegis Gallery.

MR. McELHINNEY:  The Vose?

MR. GLIMCHER:  Vose Gallery, yes.  But the Swetzhoff and Kanegis galleries were the avant-garde galleries in Boston. But it was nothing compared to what Boston was going to see at Pace. [Laughs.] Which was cutting edge.

MR. McELHINNEY:  So 125 Newbury. And you were sort of in, you know, the garden apartment.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Exactly. With a showcase window on the street.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Oh, I know those buildings, because they've got like each—there's a stairway up, and then there's stairways down. And there's a little patio and then there's the entrance to this shop.

MR. GLIMCHER:  They were brownstones.

MR. McELHINNEY:  They were brownstones. And those were English basement apartments.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Right. They were exactly.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Yes, yes.

MR. GLIMCHER:  We were at the foot of Beacon Hill. So the people who still had money but didn't have as much money as the people on Beacon Hill lived on Newbury Street.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Was it always as hot an area as it is now? There are always a lot of people there every night. Lots of restaurants.

MR. GLIMCHER:  There was a coffee house. There was the best dress shops. There was Bonwit Teller. Brooks Brothers. Shreve, Crump & Lowe Jewelers. You know, it was the best of Boston.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Sort of like the Madison Avenue—

MR. GLIMCHER:  Of Boston.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Yes, right. Of  Boston. What was your first exhibition?

MR. GLIMCHER:  I knew you were going to ask that.

MR. McELHINNEY:  It's one of the standard questions. I have to ask.

MR. GLIMCHER:  My first exhibition was an exhibition of all of my teachers at art school.

MR. McELHINNEY:  [Laughs.] What a kind thing to do!

MR. GLIMCHER:  I didn't have anything else to show. I mean, what did I—I used to come to New York a lot to see shows. But I didn't really know very many people. And so I did this show. And it brought all of Boston in because these were all well-known artists in Boston.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Is this like Harold Tovish or Reed Kay?

MR. GLIMCHER:  Not, Harold Tovish. No, because he was showing at the Swetzhoff next door.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Hyman Bloom or any of those people?

MR. GLIMCHER:  I didn't show Hyman. I showed Lawrence Kupferman, David Berger, Albert Alcalay, who was then the head of the Harvard Carpenter Center.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

MR. GLIMCHER:  Things toward more abstract than Swetzhoff showed.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Hoddsey [ph], was he—

MR. GLIMCHER:  Hoddsey, I didn't show Hoddsey. I showed Mirko.


MR. GLIMCHER:  So that's how it started. But then within the first year— I had made a lot of friends in New York. I kept going back and forth. Martha Jackson was terrific to me. And the person who was most important to me—well, that's little later—in coming to New York was Ivan Karp.

MR. McELHINNEY:  What year is this now?


MR. McELHINNEY:  '60 you opened the gallery, 125 Newbury Street.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes. So shortly thereafter, I got to know all the Pop artists in New York. And I did a big show— Well, first I did a Nevelson show ["Louise Nevelson: Sculpture," 1961]. I went to Martha Jackson and asked if I could do a Nevelson show.  And I really loved the work. And I remember as a kid seeing the big black wall in the Museum of Modern Art that was a fixture in those days. The Alfred Barr/Dorothy Miller days. And I remember as a kid I misread the name. I thought it was Louis Nevelson. Because there was this big architectural thing. There were very few women that were showing and that were prominent at that time. And I thought, "Wow, this is obviously was the work of a man, right?" [Laughs.]

MR. McELHINNEY:  Well, her work isn't obviously gendered in style.

MR. GLIMCHER:  It isn't. It isn't. And it's formalist, and it is not about feminism, which is why it isn't as popular now as it once was. It's very formal. She is an Abstract Expressionist. So I got the show from Martha. I rented a U-Haul-It. Packed up the whole show. Drove it to Boston. I remember there was a hurricane happened on the way. I had to stop on the road. It was just pouring rain. And got the show to Boston and put the show together. Now, my first client in Boston was Dick Solomon, who bought the first thing I ever sold, which was a Merico sculpture for $1,500, which was really something special. And we hadn't sold anything for a month. The first month of the show it was really hard and nothing sold. Then a Kupferman painting sold to one of my in-laws. I was married then already. And to one of my in-laws' best friends.

Then Dick Solomon came in and bought the Merico with Ann Solomon. And it turned out—I didn't know who they were—Ann Solomon was one of my wife's friends from summer camp when they were little children. Hadn't seen each other for quite a while. But we were in the same high school together, Brookline High School. And so Dick and I became very good friends. And then years later we became partners in Pace Prints. But his family was a very important family in Boston, the Rabb Family. And he worked in Stop & Shop. And when he first came in, I asked him what he did. He said he was a butcher. How does a butcher afford an enormous sum like $1,500? Anyway, I remember Dick helped me install the Nevelson show, helped me build pedestals. We were painting. We were putting the whole thing together. And Nevelson came for the opening.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Oh, great!

MR. GLIMCHER:  And it was very special. It was April, and she— I remember I saw her coming down the street with Steven Joy, who was a director of Martha's gallery. A very nice guy, very encouraging. But Martha was great to me. And she was wearing this big fur hat in April. [Laughs.] And that's where we met for the first time. I called her, and I said, "Will you come to Boston for the opening of the show?" And she said, "You know I haven't been to Boston in ages. I was married there."

MR. McELHINNEY:  Isn't she from Maine originally?

MR. GLIMCHER:  She's from Maine. But she was married at the Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston. And I said, "I'll put you up at Ritz if you come." And I really had no money at that point. And I didn't know how I was going to pay for her at the Ritz. But I had a credit card. So put her up at the Ritz with Steve Joy. She came to the opening, and we actually sold a few things. I just pressured everyone I knew. Dick Solomon's cousin bought something. Steven Payne, who was just starting to collect, bought something. Dick bought a wall. And we actually did very well with the Nevelson show. It was a first kind of success.

But what was more important is in ten minutes, there was this click between us. And you know, you meet someone, and there's a kind of click of fate, though I have no belief in destiny or anything like that. Or anything. But it's just a psychological comfort zone that you understand that you share immediately. And we became great friends. And I think we had big roles in each other's life. If anybody supported the gallery, it was Nevelson. Financially she really took us from one place to another.

MR. McELHINNEY:  So what kind of arrangements did you have to make with Martha Jackson—was that who was handling her?

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes. I think Martha gave us 25 percent. She had 50 percent. It was great. I got to know Claes Oldenburg very well and Andy [Warhol] very well. I did an exhibition in Boston in '62 called "Stock Up for the Holidays." [They laugh.] I think it was the first exhibition outside of New York of Pop Art.


MR. GLIMCHER:  And we had—it was an amazing show. And I was in the parking lot of Stop & Shop buying groceries. And in the window of Stop & Shop was a big poster. Well, not so big. Probably 24 inches by 8 inches. And it was of a kind of airbrushed Santa Claus knocking back a bottle of Coca-Cola. And it said in red Old English letters: "Stock Up for the Holidays." So I called Dick Solomon, and I said, "Can I get a thousand of those?" I couldn't afford a color announcement anyway. And I got a thousand of them. He got them from Coca-Cola for me. And there was a white border. And I put all the artists' names: you know, Dine, Oldenburg, Warhol, all around the edges of the poster in red. And I folded it up, sent it out, and that was our poster for our show.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Very clever.

MR. GLIMCHER:  We opened the show on a Sunday because shows opened on Sunday. And it was a huge success. Everyone came. Aside from all the Pop artists who came, Andy and Oldenburg and Wesselmann and Indiana and Larry Poons came. The whole coterie around them came, because it was a big event, showing in Boston. And it started to identify the gallery. Then when Oldenburg made his Store [1961], and the Store was over, I brought a big chunk of the Store to Boston and had this fabulous Oldenburg show. I had two Oldenburg shows in Boston. We became very good friends. And I got involved with this whole coterie of people around the Pop artists and the lives in the loft.

Then I went to Sidney Janis and got an [Josef] Albers exhibition. And I went to Connecticut; I met Josef, and we became really good friends. He was an artist whose work I really loved. I did some shows of British artists, three British artists: William Scott, Alan Davie, can't remember the third artist ["Three British Artists: Alan Davie, Eduardo Paolozzi, William Scott,"1961]. And then I became friendly with some dealers in Europe, who were very kind to me. I was very young. I was, you know, started at age 20 years old, 21, 22. I was running around. And people weren't really interested. There was a handful of people interested.

MR. McELHINNEY:  And where were you living in Boston at this time?

MR. GLIMCHER:  I was in living in Brookline.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Okay, Brookline.

MR. GLIMCHER:  On Mason Terrace. And I had, you know, one little kid, and we were about to have another little kid. As they say, you know, it was babies raising babies. But it worked for me. And still married to the same woman [they laugh], 50 years later. The gallery was actually 50 years old in April.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Wow! Congratulations!

MR. GLIMCHER:  Isn't that amazing? So we were going to Europe when we could, on a shoestring. And we had very little money. I mean, the first ten years were just agony. But, you know, it was such a different time. You didn't do this to make a living. You did this because you wanted a life in art. A life with the artists, a life in the community of artists.

MR. McELHINNEY:  That's a distinction that I think is very important.


MR. McELHINNEY:  Hearing a lot of people, a lot of other interviewees, saying the same thing.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Well, there was no concept of getting rich. You know, there was a concept of having enough money to raise your kids and be able to rent a house in Provincetown for the summer. That would have been a big thing, you know. Instead of for a week on Cape Cod, Popponesset, which is what we did. We had a week in Popponesset for the summer. But it was a commitment. It was a kind of commitment and a passion. It was not commercial. I know my gallery is seen as something very successful and big and commercial. But it isn't in my mind. You know, it still is the gallery on Newbury Street. You never change. You know, people do not change their nature.

So I got to know the Pop artists, and it was hard to sell the work. My wife and I were both in graduate school. My mother was our gallery babysitter while we were in school. She knew all the artists. Andy adored her. Gave her this wonderful series of paintings of her for her 75th birthday, I remember. And she was an amazing woman anyway. She was a fantastic woman. She had many careers—many businesses that she started and did. So she was great for us. And let us travel a little bit, and we'd leave the gallery. We didn't have any employees. It was Millie and me and sometimes my mother.

So I went to Europe. I met Erica Brausen, who ran the Hanover Gallery, who was also a great woman. And she had this amazing exhibition. This was in '63, I believe. And she had this amazing exhibition of modern sculpture: Giacometti, Picasso, Ernst, Matisse. It was an amazing show, and I was quite knocked out by it. It was a summer show. And I said to her, "I would love to have a show like this in Boston." She said, "I'll give you the show." She couldn't sell it. So the next fall I had that show in Boston. It was spectacular. Some of the most iconic sculptures of the 20th century.

I had one client who bought things like that, that I had sold some Giacomettis to and some Cubist works, too. These things were not terribly expensive then. And that was Irving Rabb, who was the head of Stop & Shop, Dick Solomon's uncle. He was a marvelous man, and really his acquisitions helped support me as well. He bought a beautiful Nevelson out of that show. He was not in town for that show. He was traveling with his wife, Dolly, somewhere around the world. And I was devastated [laughs] because he was my own only possible client for those things. And the last weekend of the show, it was a Saturday, the last Saturday of the show, he came in. And there were Giacometti's Four Figurines on a Base [1950–65], a great sculpture, four women. And he said, "You know, I like that. I think I might buy that." And he said, "I'll come in next Saturday." I said, "I have to send the show back on Monday. I won't have it for you to decide." He said, "There's several things that I like." I said, "It's got to go back." He said, "How much would it take to buy all of these sculptures?" I quickly added it up. It was $250,000.


MR. GLIMCHER:  For the entire—

MR. McELHINNEY:  And this was in—

MR. GLIMCHER:  This is 1963.

MR. McELHINNEY:  That's a lot of money in 1963.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Irving said, "You know what? I'll give it to you. Let's buy all the sculptures. I'll take one of them at cost. And we'll split the profits." And it took about three years to sell the works. And it was really fantastic. He was just an angel. And, I mean, split the profits! It was his idea. I would've been happy with 10 percent. So it was quite funny. Shooting forward a little bit in time, a couple of years later I had just sold the Giacometti Homme qui marche, the six-foot Walking Man [1960], to the Chicago Art Institute [Art Institute of Chicago] for $53,000. And we had bought it for about $25,000. And I was having lunch with Giacometti and Erica Brausen, because she showed his work for many years. She was a central figure in the Surrealist world. And we were sitting at the Deux Magots and she said to Giacometti, "Arne just sold the Homme qui marche for $53,000 to the Chicago Art Institute." And Giacometti turned to me, pointed at me, he said, "You will be arrested." [They laugh.] It was the highest price ever paid for a Giacometti. And I think they were good times. I got to know Giacometti. Spent other times with him.

MR. McELHINNEY:  It's a lucky thing. So it sounds like Rabb and your mom were sort of mentors when it came to how to be a businessperson.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Oh, yes. Absolutely. I had no interest in being a businessperson. I still have no interest in being a businessperson.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Well, there's hardly anyone in the arts that does.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Well, no, people go to school now for art gallery business degrees, you know. [Laughs.]

MR. McELHINNEY:  Oh, I don't mean like those kind of people. I mean, you know, the kind of people—

MR. GLIMCHER:  No, none of us did.

MR. McELHINNEY:  —you were talking about earlier, you know.

MR. GLIMCHER:  You know, Sidney Janis, who was a manufacturer—his specialty was shirts with two pockets—he made a fortune as a manufacturer. He always loved art. He collected art, and he opened a gallery. He had enough money to then open a gallery. And then he had enough money to buy Rousseau's [The] Sleeping Gypsy [1897] and have it in his house for many years.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Wow! One of the interviews we weren't able to actually organize was an interview with Louise Deutschman, the late Louise Deutschman, whom I knew—

MR. GLIMCHER:  Oh, she was great.

MR. McELHINNEY:  —somewhat through Inge Morath, who was a dear friend of mine. Just couldn't get it scheduled, and then she got sick, and we lost her.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Well, here's the person you must do is Conrad Janis. Because although Connie is an actor and was out of the gallery for periods of time, because he was quite a big star for a period of time in Hollywood and he still does some movies. He was in the television series Mork & Mindy. He was Mindy's father.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Oh! [They laugh.]

MR. GLIMCHER:  You know. But I know him very, very well. He was there through all of it. He has amazing stories. He was there as much as Louise and more. He tells me how they played football in the front hall of their West Side apartment with The Sleeping Gypsy on the wall. And all the incredible things that were in that apartment.

MR. McELHINNEY:  [Laughs.] Amazing story.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Isn't that amazing? Yes. And the other person you must interview is Ben Heller. Ben Heller is the mine of information for the Abstract Expressionist period and the most brilliant person, the most brilliant eye of that entire period. More than Bill Brookman.

MR. McELHINNEY:  It's on record. So now we'll have to follow up.

MR. GLIMCHER:  You'll have to. I just had lunch with him. I think he's just astonishing. I've been encouraging him to write a book.

MR. McELHINNEY:  That would be invaluable.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes, it would be.

MR. McELHINNEY:  So at what point did you begin to move towards New York?

MR. GLIMCHER:  It was at a specific point. I was—all of these artists were not really fixed in a lot of galleries yet. Leo [Castelli] didn't represent everyone. He didn't represent Andy;  for the next 18 years it would be before he took Andy. And so Andy was free. Then he was hooked up with the Stable Gallery, and he was no longer free. I was losing all of these people. And their work was becoming more popular. And you had people like the Sculls [Robert and Ethel Scull] buying work and the Tremaines. And it was not as accessible anymore. And I realized I had to go to New York. And I went to New York too late. I went to New York a year too late, or I would have had all of those guys.

MR. McELHINNEY:  So artists you were handling in Boston and just dealing with directly, all of a sudden you were having to split commissions and having to share them with other people who were here.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes. So I would sell a Marilyn Monroe painting for $225, and I would only make $45 on it.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

MR. GLIMCHER:  And I would sell an Oldenburg for $150, and I'd only make $30 or $40 on it. But, you know, $40 is money.

MR. McELHINNEY:  In those days, yes.

MR. GLIMCHER:  It paid the grocer.


MR. GLIMCHER:  I mean, it was such a different world that has nothing to do—I mean—I sound terribly old—the generation of younger dealers today has just no idea what this was. You know, the big dealers were Sam [inaudible] and Grace Borgenicht. And you know, they had marvelous taste. And the Sidenbergs and beautiful things. And it was all about great art, you know. And it's not―it's different.

MR. McELHINNEY:  So at what point did you actually move to New York?

MR. GLIMCHER:  Oh, so here it is, yes, my story. I'm digressing terribly.

MR. McELHINNEY:  It's all right.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Let's try to keep on track. I was hanging an Albers show on Saturday night in the gallery for an opening on Sunday. And we were closed, but the door wasn't locked. A guy knocked on the door, and I let him come in. And a very interesting guy, very attractive, smart. Got to talking. It was a very bad time. I think there was a recessionary moment. And he bought the biggest Albers in the show, 48-inch painting, which I think was $4,800, something like that. Or $2,400—something like that. Most expensive thing I ever sold. And because, realize I was selling thing that were in the hundreds of dollars. All the Pop things were in the hundreds of dollars. Low hundreds.

So we got to talking. I liked him a lot. And I learned that he was a theatrical producer. That he had just produced an enormous flop called Another Evening with Harry Stoones [1961], which was like Laugh-In. But it was a show that discovered Dom DeLuise, Diana Sands, and Barbra Streisand. So it was a legendary show—now it's a legendary show. Then it was a flop. And he had gone to Europe for six months, and he came back. He had collected art. He was an art collector. Had a fantastic collection of Chinese, Ming Chinese furniture and porcelains. And was from Hawaii. Very precocious guy.

And I had considered opening a gallery with Erica Brausen in New York. Knew I had to open a gallery in New York. And so I was [inaudible] very much that we would open with Erica Brausen. Then I came home, and I was having dinner with Millie and the kids. And I said, "You know, I just met this guy while I was hanging the show, Fred Mueller. I think I should open a gallery with him. I think I will." No, I said, "I think I'm going to open a gallery with him in New York." Because he had asked me. He said, "I'd like to work for a gallery in New York and get my feet wet. Do you think you could introduce me to Martha Jackson?" And I said, "Sure I could." So Millie said, "You don't even know him." You know. "How are you going to—what kind of a decision is that to make?" I said, "It's going to work."

So I invited him up for an Oldenburg show. And there were big parties and everything. And he came. And I said, "Do you know why I asked you?" And he said, "Do you want to open a gallery together in New York?" [Laughs.] So it was cosmic. And he was great. So he had a profound influence, too. He was a man of amazing taste and style. We have a very nice collection of 16th-century and 17th-century Chinese furniture. And I think a lot of our mature taste certainly was—came out of Fred. I didn't know anything about that, you know. And he had this amazing eye in the decorative arts. So it was great. We were partners together 'til '75. And he very unfortunately got very involved in the drug scene, and it really destroyed him. So that was over.

MR. McELHINNEY:  There was a lot of that in the entertainment business. A lot of—

MR. GLIMCHER:  Well, there's a lot of that in the art world.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Art world, too, yes.

MR. GLIMCHER:  In the '60s we'd go to parties, and you'd be careful not to drink the punch because it was all spiked with LSD. And Fred was on LSD continuously.

MR. McELHINNEY:  The '60s and '70s. And then later the cocaine and all that, yes.


MR. McELHINNEY:  What year did you open the gallery in New York, and where was it?

MR. GLIMCHER: 'Sixty-three.

MR. McELHINNEY:  'Sixty-three.

MR. GLIMCHER:  At 9 West Fifty-seventh.

MR. McELHINNEY:  9 West?

MR. GLIMCHER:  Where that big nine is. Yes, 9 West. And we were there for three years until they sold the building and we were sort of forced out. We settled for a $2,500 settlement. And found the third floor in this building.

MR. McELHINNEY:  So when you opened the gallery, did you hire a designer or an architect?

MR. GLIMCHER:  We did.


MR. GLIMCHER:  We spent—we foolishly spent all of our money making it look good. We had $60,000 together. But he was—Fred was what in those days we called rich. Today we would call pocket change.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Upper middle class.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes. But he came from a very rich family, a family that owned Mueller Brass, which made all of the manhole covers for the whole country, all over the world. And his father died when he was very young. His mother remarried. But he was heir to the fortune. But he never had control of the money. He only had control of the interest that the money earned.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Oh, it was a trust.

MR. GLIMCHER:  It was a trust, yes. So he was rich, but he spent more money than he had, collecting things voraciously. So we were always in financial trouble. But Fred looked like he was really rich. We looked like we were rich. [They laugh.] When we weren't. And so we opened the gallery, and we opened the gallery— Ivan Karp was wonderful to us. He met with us to find a location. You know, Ivan has the least credit of any of the people of the period and was probably the most important. You know, Martha Jackson's gallery was the most important gallery in the world―Castelli was nothing―when Ivan was its director. Ivan left and went to Castelli. It became the most important gallery.

I remember when Leo wouldn't take Warhol. He had [Roy] Lichtenstein. There was no reason to take Warhol. And wouldn't take Oldenburg. And, you know, Leo I knew very well. Leo had the best ear in the art world. Ileana [Castelli] had the best eye, and Ivan had the best eye. And Leo's charm carried him along. But Leo—Leo was nothing without the two of them. It's really interesting. And the only artist who was Leo's was Jasper [Johns]. And Jasper—he certainly didn't discover Jasper. All of those artists were in other galleries before they went to Leo.

So Ivan was very good to us and spent so much time with us and kept introducing us to artists and helped us put a stable together. But within the first year we got Nevelson. She had a terrible falling out with Janis. She had been with Martha all of those years. She stupidly moved to the Janis Gallery. [Sound of siren.] And she went to Janis because he only had men in his stable. He had all the Abstract Expressionists, who were her friends. And she wanted to be the first woman in the Janis Gallery. And her best friends were [Mark] Rothko and de Kooning. And she was the only sculptor that that group respected. [David] Smith was not their sculptor. He was too much for them derived from Picasso and [Julio?] Gonzalez. And Nevelson was the only sculptor who was making pictorial sculpture that was the scale of their paintings. So she wanted to be with them. And she went there. Janis promised her the moon and got her into incredible debt. It was a nightmare, which is not worthy of going into for this. And she was in a lawsuit with him. And she owed him $20,000. She left him; he kept all the sculpture until she could pay off the $20,000.

We became great friends. She always said she would be with me [inaudible]. And we were about to open the gallery. Our last 20,000 bucks practically I gave to Nevelson so she could pay off Janis. We took all of that sculpture that he had, and we moved it back to her house. We didn't take a single piece. And Nevelson was comfortable with the sculpture, and it was about six months before she gave us anything to sell. But it was great for us.


MR. McELHINNEY:  So when you opened up at 9 West, hired an architect—do you remember the name of the firm or the architect?

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes, it was Hanford Yang, who was a young Chinese collector and a friend of Ivan's.

MR. McELHINNEY:  So another Ivan Karp connection.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Absolutely. Ivan helped us with that. Ivan helped us with everything. I mean, there's no dealer I'm more indebted to than Ivan. And next comes Erica Brausen.

MR. McELHINNEY:  So who else were you showing? Who else was in there?

MR. GLIMCHER:  We were showing Ernie Trova, who was also an Ivan Karp find. We were showing—then the Green Gallery was closing at that moment. Scull pulled out his support. Green Gallery was Robert Scull's. And so Lucas Samaras came with us.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

MR. GLIMCHER:  And, you know, we became this gallery—the galleries were all focused in a different way. Emmerich was Color Field painting. Castelli was Pop Art. We didn't have anyplace to go except to highly individualistic artists. And what we were doing was not what galleries did. We had old artists, we had brand new artists. We had a number of established artists, we had people nobody had ever heard of. Who they would hear of. So I think we were the first gallery that really had that pluralistic viewpoint. And I've always had that pluralistic viewpoint. I mean, if I was showing Albers, I was showing Oldenburg at the same time in Boston. We were showing Alan Davie. I felt that it was a moment, a pluralistic moment that was this amazing smorgasbord of styles. And I didn't want to spend my life in one style and then move to the next style after that was no longer popular, even though it was still of historical value. So we were all over the place. And it was very exciting. And the artists seemed to like it.

MR. McELHINNEY:  So where did you go after you lost the space at 9 West?


MR. McELHINNEY:  Oh, that's right, here, third floor.

MR. GLIMCHER:  We came here to the third floor and then got another Chinese architect.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Oh, a different Chinese architect. Who was that?

MR. GLIMCHER:  To design this, the third floor, and that was I.M. Pei.

MR. McELHINNEY:  I.M. Pei. We've heard of him.

MR. GLIMCHER:  He was a client and became a friend. He bought things from me, small things. And I just loved them; they were fantastic people. And, you know, there was an interesting community. The collectors were wonderful. It was not collecting for status. The Sculls really began that. But it was the Tremaines, it was Vera List. It was—well, it was the Sculls, too, at that point. It was the Weismans on the West Coast. It was Betty Freeman. And the Payes [sp], who were collecting Barney [Barnett] Newman.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Mm-hmm. Yes.

MR. GLIMCHER:  And Morris Louis and other things. And so he designed this space.


MR. GLIMCHER: And he also made my desk, which was the only piece of furniture he's ever designed, which I still have.

MR. McELHINNEY:  You still use it?



MR. GLIMCHER:  We don't.

MR. McELHINNEY:  But what did it look like in the gallery?

MR. GLIMCHER:  It was very Modernist. He called me from London and said, "I have found the flitch of an 800-year-old oak that's been buried in a riverbed. And we can buy the flitch for $200. And I advise you to buy it." That was going to be the veneer of the desk. And so he bought it.


MR. GLIMCHER:  And it was almost black, dark, you know, its natural patina.

MR. McELHINNEY:  So how was the space in the gallery organized at that point?

MR. GLIMCHER:  We were all on one floor. We just had one floor. I had my office, which I shared with Fred. And we had a glass wall that was two-way mirror. You could see who was coming in out of the elevator, but they couldn't see us.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Like at Stop & Shop in the butcher department, right? You can look out, and you can look—

MR. GLIMCHER:  [Laughs.] Maybe. I don't know that.

MR. McELHINNEY:  I seem to remember that as a kid. It was always—you know, the grocery stores always had a, you know, somehow in the meat area, they always had a two-way mirror.

MR. GLIMCHER:  This we thought would let us see—I think it was awful now that we did that.

MR. McELHINNEY:  [Laughs.] It was like a police state.

MR. GLIMCHER:  I think it was innocent at the time. But it was awful. People came in, they didn't know we were watching them. So that we could spring out and accidentally walk through the gallery and say, "Oh, hi, Vera. I didn't—" [Laughs.]

MR. McELHINNEY:  It's like observing, you know, having the witness observe all of the collared police lineup.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Listen, we had to sell the art to keep our artists alive and to keep us alive. It was very hard. I think there were 25 really serious collectors in America in the early '60s.

MR. McELHINNEY:  How many are there now?

MR. GLIMCHER:  Oh, God, are there 2,500, really serious, or are there 5,000? I don't know. There are so many, I don't know. Serious. That can be defined in many ways.

MR. McELHINNEY:  How did the gallery operate at that point? Obviously it wasn't like the Newbury Street establishment where it was you, your wife, and your mother. You hired staff?

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes, we had three people and Fred and me. And we spirited away Judith Heidler from the Sidney Janis Gallery, who was their receptionist for years. Beautiful blonde, very aristocratic, very officious young woman from Newport, Newport society. She was great. And then Nick Serota, who also worked at Janis, came to work for us. And I can't remember who else. So there were five of us in the gallery. But Fred and I also showed—brought out the paintings ourselves. If Nick wasn't there—or if Nick was there—he'd hold one side of the painting, and we'd carry the other side of the painting. But, you know, everybody did that. Grace Borgenicht did that.

MR. McELHINNEY:  And who hung the shows?

MR. GLIMCHER:  Mostly me. We would—Fred and I would do it together. It's the only contentious times we had. I'd say, "No, I want that there, I want that there." And I certainly with no humility say that my talent is the presentation of shows. I think before Pace in New York, no one did an installation. And we installed things before museums installed them that way, built walls, recreated the gallery. And I think one of the key events was—well, one of the most identity-forming events was my interest in Los Angeles. I loved what was going on in Los Angeles with Robert Irwin and Larry Bell and [John] McCracken and all of those people. And in the mid-'60s I was going to LA, because my great passion swung from Pop to Minimalism, which is still there today, obviously. I think it's one of the real images of this gallery. So I met Bob Irwin, and, as they say, it changed my life. He did. He became the most important mentor in my life.

MR. McELHINNEY:  What triggered that? Now you earlier said that you had a love affair with German Expressionist art.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes, yes.

MR. McELHINNEY:  And then that moved into Pop. And then how did you move—how did you discover a passion for Minimalism.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Well, I went— Well, I always felt that art was a tool by which society extended its perception, both psychologically and also retinally, because this is a visual experience. And the information in the painting comes through the eye, and the eye is the only organ attached to the brain. So it's kind of visual thinking. It's a language, like French and German and mathematics. It's closer to mathematics, I think, than anything else. And I always felt that way. So I went to LA. And I can't remember my first visit. I had met Irving Blum and the guy who started the Ferus Gallery.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Helman? No.

MR. GLIMCHER:  No, no, no. The Ferus in '60, who was the director of the Menil—died about two years ago, three years ago.

MR. McELHINNEY:  I don't know.

MR. GLIMCHER:  But he was the muse of Los Angeles. And Irving attached himself to him. But everything happened through him. So—Walter Hopps!

MR. McELHINNEY:  Walter Hopps.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Walter Hopps. Then Walter Hopps was very involved with ArtForum.  He was the editor of ArtForum—if not started Art Forum. But Walter was brilliant and completely insane. And he was showing Irwin and Bell. I went to LA, and I met Bob Irwin. And Irwin was making the dot paintings. I came into the studio, and I saw the dot paintings, and I just—and that changed my life. I saw work that had no relationship to anything that had ever been made before. And everything else did have a relationship, whether Abstract Expressionism had some kinship to late [Claude] Monet. Or Pop Art was a kind of neo-Dada experience. They were very new, and they certainly moved the history of art along. But I thought what Irwin was doing was parallel to what Picasso and [Georges] Braque were doing. And I just fell in love with the work. And to this day we're together, and I think he's—I think, I would say it publicly—I think he's the greatest artist alive in the world today. And I think if there's an avant-garde alive today—which there isn't anywhere else—it's only in Irwin. I mean, he continues pushing the boundaries of what the language is.

So I started showing Irwin, Craig Kauffman, Larry Bell, and the New York establishment just roasted us. "Chi-chi. Slick art. Looked like Tiffany's." We were just roasted. I got to know [Donald] Judd very well. Judd was a critic when we opened. He was just making his first pieces, which were being shown at the Green Gallery. And I loved his work, and I traded him things for his works. And bought Judds for myself in the early '60s. I loved the art, and he—You know, when all this California stuff was going on and people were denigrating the gallery in the press, the only two people who really spoke up for us were Judd and Barney Newman. And then I began a relationship with Ad Reinhardt after that. Newman was impossible to try to get to show his work. Although he didn't want to show—he interviewed people to buy the 36 large paintings that he'd made in his lifetime. That's all there is.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

MR. GLIMCHER:  I'm lucky I have one of them. [Laughs.] I have Queen of the Night [1951]. He wanted to show on the brown velvet walls of Knoedler on Fifty-seventh Street. Knoedler used to be on Fifty-seventh Street where the IBM Building is. And they had brown velvet walls with a chair rail. And he showed his paintings there, because they showed Monets and they showed Picassos and they showed [Vincent] Van Goghs. Anyway, that was a little quirk of Barney's. But he really spoke up for us, and he loved the California artists, and he went to LA, and he was friendly with Irwin, and friendly with Bell and that whole group. So he was a great man. He was very much ahead of his generation. And then I got to know Reinhardt very well. And I bought a painting from Ad that I paid out at Betty Parsons's for about two years. And then Ad was—in '68, I think—Ad decided to leave Betty Parsons and come with us. And died just before our show.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Oh, terrible!

MR. GLIMCHER:  And Rita Reinhardt was Rothko's girlfriend at that point. He had left his wife, Mel, for her. And Rothko convinced Rita that she didn't need the money. He was going to take care of her the rest of his life and everything. And what did she need the responsibility of his work for? And she should sell most of the work to Marlborough [Gallery, New York City]. And so she sold most of the estate to Marlborough for pennies, as was their way. But she still kept a nucleus of really wonderful things. And then it came back to us after the Rothko debacle with Marlborough.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Right, the—

MR. GLIMCHER:  Which is another huge story of mind-boggling—
MR. McELHINNEY:  Frank Lloyd epoch much recorded, a couple of books written about it, yes.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes. So I was a central figure in that. I was certainly the central figure that lost the case for Marlborough.

MR. McELHINNEY:  So you weathered the disapproval of the New York critics.


MR. McELHINNEY:  And soldiered on and—

MR. GLIMCHER:  You know, I was very unaware. I was very shy then. And it was really hard. And I remember, I took everything so personally, which I still do. I'm sometimes totally infuriated when one of my artists has a bad review in the [New York] Times. And I wrote Roberta Smith a letter about a year ago that she'll never forget. [Laughs.]

MR. McELHINNEY:  And we'll never read.

MR. GLIMCHER:  And you'll never read. [Laughs.] But, you know, maybe I have a copy of it, and I'll put it in my memoirs. But, you know, she's such a bad person. Such an angry, self-hating person, and it comes out in her writing. Anyway, the—what did you ask me?

MR. McELHINNEY:  Well, we were talking about Ad Reinhardt. And you sort of started with a question about at what point you became enamored with—

MR. GLIMCHER:  Irwin and Minimalism.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Minimalism and how that launched you on a new trajectory in terms of your own taste.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Well, you know I had the feeling that Minimalism was the end of something that began with Judd. And at that point in time, I felt Minimalism was the end of art as we knew it. And I still feel that way. And there's a big question, if you look at the history of art from the 14th century to the 20th century. It's the history of reductionism, and it is also, the 20th century, becomes the focus of the analytical viewpoint. So you have these phenomena happening. You have Freud dissecting behavior, breaking it down. You have Einstein dissecting the atom and breaking it down to sub-atomic particles. And you have Picasso and Braque breaking the picture apart that's been forming since the 14th century.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

MR. GLIMCHER:  Now, it starts with the post-Impressionists and certainly with—[Paul] Cézanne is very important to it. But they are suddenly opening the door for painting to change into something else. The magic window's gone. And the object, painting as object, or painting for the sake of painting or whatever. Big starts to dominate, and painting that's not painting, you know. The idea that the first collage is made in history, then you can't imagine that. It's become the vernacular. So, you know, you have to examine a question like: is there any reason to make art after—art as we know it—after that? Now, that doesn't mean that it's the end of artists. You know, there will always be artists. It's just the product changes.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Well, isn't it similar to how, when Johannes Gutenberg evolved the art of printing and created a publishing industry―

MR. GLIMCHER:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

MR. McELHINNEY:  ―without which there would have been no Renaissance.


MR. McELHINNEY:  The impact it had upon, you know, the medieval scribes and illuminators. Some of which endure in some way to this day, like the book artists, et cetera. But this wonderful exhibition at the MET [Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City] of the medieval drawings. A lot of the techniques have not really changed in hundreds and hundreds of years.


MR. McELHINNEY:  Aren't we now—Isn't the computer now this whole thing that the divide between abstraction and representation, Conceptual Art, et cetera, anything in the analog realm—not in the virtual realm—becomes all of a sudden much more similar than anything in the electronic virtual realm, which is expanding exponentially.

MR. GLIMCHER:  I know. As we sit here.

MR. McELHINNEY:  We could be on the verge of a new renaissance, and we don't even understand what shape it will take yet.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Oh, I firmly believe we're on the verge of a new renaissance. And I think that the end of an age does not end in a straight line. It ends in a ragged edge.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Oh, sure.

MR. GLIMCHER:  And I think there's been a really interesting ragged edge from the '90s to the present. And a ragged edge that is completely synthetic. I think the art of the last 20 years is a synthesis of the art of the last hundred years. [Laughs.]

MR. McELHINNEY:  Yes. And other cultures that weren't part of the canon before: Latin America—

MR. GLIMCHER:  That's happening now.

MR. McELHINNEY:  —Chinese, international art.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes, yes.

MR. McELHINNEY:  The end of the Cold War and the arrival of the computer happened almost at the same moment—or within a decade of each other. And they're not unrelated.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes. No, no, no, no.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Because you can't— I remember a friend of mine met [Mikhail] Gorbachev and asked him what he wanted to do. And he said he wanted to put a computer in every home in the Soviet Union. And he said, "But how would you control information?" He said, "Well, we wouldn't." So, I mean, it's a related thing. But vis-à-vis publishing, I mean, you're also, Pace Wildenstein is also—

MR. GLIMCHER:  We are major publishers.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Major publishers. So how did you get involved in that?

MR. GLIMCHER:  I love books. I have a small but really great collection of Renaissance books.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Incunabula, or early imprints?

MR. GLIMCHER:  I have the first edition of Palladio's Four Books of Architecture.


MR. GLIMCHER:  I have the Cellarius First Atlas of the Skies [Harmonia Macrocosmica]. I have a lot of books. So I've always loved books. And I have a collection of artists' books, too: Picasso, Matisse, I have all [Jean] Dubuffet's books, all of them, and [Joan] Miró and [Fernand] Leger, most of Leger's books. So when we started, I thought it was very important to make catalogs. And from the beginning in New York we've made catalogs. And we have produced over 400 catalogs.

MR. McELHINNEY:  How did you get started? Did you—

MR. GLIMCHER:  I design them myself.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Who printed them?

MR. GLIMCHER:  I found a printer to print them. I mean, I did the whole thing myself. And we came up with some very—I think I had very interesting ideas. The idea that, you know, the fact that I was an artist to begin with was very helpful here. And I remember we did a show called "Beyond Realism" [1965]. And it was the idea that there was a strong Surrealist vein in Pop Art. Everybody was talking about neo-Dada. And I was talking about Surrealism.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

MR. GLIMCHER:  And the soft sculptures of Oldenburg, the soft watches of [Salvador] Dali, I mean there's a direct line. And I did a catalog that had a black plastic spiral that was transparent plastic pages, silkscreened images. Oldenburg's Typewriter [Typewriter Eraser, 1976] on one side, you know, a [James] Rosenquist painting on the other side. One side was printed in white; the Rosenquist would be in black. Michael Kirby wrote the text. And inside these pages was a folded piece of paper, black on one side, white on the other, and you had to keep moving his text through it―

MR. McELHINNEY:  Oh, cool.

MR. GLIMCHER:  ―to read the images. We did really interesting things, and we did it all ourselves. They weren't expensive. But where I think Leo had a fabulous gallery, you know, Leo didn't make a catalog. He didn't spend a dime on promotion that way because he spent it on parties. We spent all our money on catalogs. And there's the history of this gallery in 400-plus catalogs.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Creates a durable record of everything you're doing.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Of the time. I mean, our archives are amazing. We have—next fall we're doing a fiftieth anniversary show in all three galleries, all three spaces. And the Fifty-seventh Street space is going to be—we're opening the archives. And we'll show letters, all of the catalogs, everything, photographs will all be in this space. And then downtown we'll show incredible things that we've sold: the Warhol Marilyn Monroe diptych. That's in the Tate, came from here. The Johns's Three Flags [1958]. You know, all these sort of iconic things. And great works by all of our artists. So we'll have those two spaces like that downtown.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Have you moved at all from print to electronic media?

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes, we have. But I haven't. I really can work my iPhone brilliantly and take pictures and do everything. And I can buy iTunes on my computer. But my son Marc, you know, is very computer literate. Marc really runs the gallery today more than I do, although I'm here every day. And he has this amazing electronic thing going with catalogues raisonnés being done electronically. Working with artists, living artists, so that their catalogues raisonnés are up to date. Keep adding things. So, you know, these printed books are obsolete in a minute.


MR. GLIMCHER:  And catalogues raisonnés being made while artists are alive, they become a kind of studio management. So you have to talk to him about that. It's complex, it's brilliant. The Agnes Martin and Chuck Close catalogues raisonnés are going to be the first to come out. They're being formed now. But they'll be available with what we have very soon.

MR. McELHINNEY:  So what was your first catalog? What was the first catalog you printed?

MR. GLIMCHER:  I can't remember. I think it was [Hugh Townley]. I think it was the first show.

MR. McELHINNEY:  It was the first show here in New York?

MR. GLIMCHER:  Here in New York. No, in Boston I didn't have the money for catalogs.

MR. McELHINNEY:  You had the "Stock Up for Christmas" poster.

MR. GLIMCHER:  That poster. I still have one of those folded it up. I've opened it up and framed it. [They laugh.]

MR. McELHINNEY:  That's great. I remember a show here a few years ago which was, like, Cubist pictures and film.

MR. GLIMCHER:  "Picasso and Braque and Early Cinema" ["Picasso, Braque and Early Film in Cubism," 2007].

MR. McELHINNEY:  "Picasso and Braque and Early Cinema."

MR. GLIMCHER:  I just recently finished a movie about it.

MR. McELHINNEY:  A wonderful show.

MR. GLIMCHER:  The movie's going to premiere, the documentary's going to premiere at MoMA [Museum of Modern Art, New York City] February twenty-third. It's called Picasso and Braque Go to the Movies. That was an idea that I had for 25, 30 years.

MR. McELHINNEY:  It's something people have been exploring. There's a show at Williams about art and film. A couple, three years ago there was a show at the Delaware Art Museum about John Sloan in New York, you know, who'd been head of the Art Students League, an Ashcan School painter who was a movie addict, and speculating on the influence of, you know, the movies on his work. And, yes, the exhibition here was interesting, as I recall, because it was really sort of made it clear that the films, as these painters are coming up with new language for painting, the films are becoming sort of the new history paintings, the new narrative paintings for the next hundred years or more.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Well, they were so—Picasso and Braque and [Guillaume] Apollinaire and Max Jacob and that group, they were very involved with movies. They loved movies. And Picasso, you know, always loved movies. But imagine these guys watching early cinema. Movies were not a reputable form. Nice people didn't go to see movies. They were sideshows, carnivals, circuses.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Nickelodeon, yes.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes. The department stores showed movies to bring people in and had theaters in them. But by 1914, there were 200 cinema palaces in Paris that were exclusively for movies.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Dedicated, yes.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Movies didn't happen here. They happened there. Although movies might have been invented, in a way, here, cinema happened in Paris.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

MR. GLIMCHER:  And going to the cinema happened in Paris. But imagine in the early cinema, you're in a bistro as Picasso's gang was. And projected on the wall is this very flat space of a film. They were two-minute, three-minute films, and you would see 15 of them.


MR. GLIMCHER:  And you could go out and come back in, have another drink. You know, you'd see another one. They were two minutes, they were one minute, they were five minutes. But it's a smoky room. And the projector's in the middle of the room, and it's an object which is fascinating.

MR. McELHINNEY:  And it's clattering away; it's got that noise.

MR. GLIMCHER:  And there's this beam of light, and there's this tick tick tick, these frames going by, and you can see it. And this beam of light is projected in this smoke, and it's an entity. And Cubist paintings have no specific light source. They are all beams of light coming from different directions. It's impossible that that didn't influence them. And it was like that. The projectors looked very much like the heads on some of the images, some of the paintings. And one is identical. I mean, you can even see the winder. And, you know, cinema was very sophisticated. We see it as being something like that. It was only something like that when the projectionist got tired of winding. And then everyone would yell, and he'd start making it go faster. But all of that stuff was—multiple viewpoints, the simultaneity of multiple viewpoints. The idea of collage. It is the ultimate collage art form.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Mixed media.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Mixed media.

MR. McELHINNEY:  And it's also you've got the piano player. You've got the guy cranking the projector.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Exactly.

MR. McELHINNEY:  It's a performance.

MR. GLIMCHER:  It's performance.  

MR. McELHINNEY:  And a smoke machine with everybody were their Gauloises burning. Yes.

MR. GLIMCHER:  It was an exciting time. But you know, it came to me years and years ago when I was looking at a Dora Maar painting. And I was thinking, you know, this is just insane, the grotesqueness of these—of the distortions. And where did it come from? And I thought, you know, the only place where you have multiple viewpoints simultaneously is in cinema.

MR. McELHINNEY:  That's right.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Cutting back and forth.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Montage.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Montage. And so then I started thinking about where did that come from with Picasso? Where was that? And then I didn't know that much about early cinema until about ten or 15 years ago. And then I got really involved in it. Then for that show I had someone at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris and the Cinématèque [française] in Paris for about two years doing research. Someone at the library [Library of Congress?] in Washington. We did so much work. And Bernice Rose was just fantastic. I brought her into this, and we were doing a show called "Picasso and Drawing" [1995]. And I said to Bernice, "You know, this is where this stuff comes from, the cinema." And she said, "My God! I never thought of that. You're right. Well, shall we do the show?" And we did the show. It took us five years. Cost a million and a half bucks to do that show.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Wow! It was a wonderful show. So all of these people were on the fringes. You know, the movies were on the fringes, the artists were on the fringes, the avant-garde, the nascent avant-garde. It mean, it was all sort of off the radar. So it could all happen in that way. Now, of course, everybody wants to apply, like, you know, the Linnaean sort of categorization of everything and fail to see how it's all connected.

MR. GLIMCHER:  It is. It is all connected. You know, one has to be so careful, because it's so easy to dismiss what's being made today in the shadow of what was made yesterday. But that's been the route throughout the history of art. So you have to be very careful. But you still, with the knowledge one has, you still can make judgments of what is original and what is synthetic. That becomes an obvious thing. That doesn't mean that what is synthetic—if it's the most important thing that's being made―is all we have and must be respected, and is an avatar of the time.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Turned out like post-Modernist fusion of sort of hybridizing historical styles. Maybe it was made last week and a hundred years ago.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Right. George Condo painting Picassos.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Right. Well, you're very—

MR. GLIMCHER:  But, you know, you have to ask the question, too, with late Picasso, which I am very proud to say we showed first. In 1980 we did the first show of those paintings, which everyone hated in 1980. And denigrated. And then after our show everyone loved them. John Richardson at that point said to me, "They're terrible paintings." And Bill Rubin said, "You don't make that show your first show from the Picasso Estate, don't make that show." Then we made the show, and I remember Bill saying to me, "Oh, they look better here than they've ever looked, but they're not important paintings." But John Richardson came to the show and said, "You're right. They're very good paintings." There's something else.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Well, artists' late work is something very interesting.

MR. GLIMCHER:  People just want to dismiss.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Yes, they want to hold them up against their earlier achievements or canonical achievements.


MR. McELHINNEY:  But then there's this refinement that occurs after a lifetime of work.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Sometimes.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Sometimes. In some painters it's something as obvious as their ability to use white as a color. Which is I've seen in [John] Constable and [inaudible].

MR. GLIMCHER:  That's interesting.

MR. McELHINNEY:  A lot of the idea of white using—the chromatic use of white seems to be only something— Titian does it, too.


MR. McELHINNEY:  And little things like that that a lot of people think, oh, it's not really— But it's demanding, you know, it's demanding. It's more demanding.

MR. GLIMCHER:  But you have an artist like Braque whose late work is really uninteresting.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Well, yes.

MR. GLIMCHER:  And then you have an artist like Matisse, the papiers de découpage are really interesting. But, ultimately, are the papiers de découpage, though they're very influential works, as the late Picassos are very influential works, you have to ask, are they influencing anything worth influencing? Are the papiers de découpage of Matisse as good as the painting The Moroccans [1916] or the Dance [1910]? They're not. You know, it's something else.


MR. GLIMCHER:  It's a synthesis. It's like Nevelson said to me once that she saw not Isadora Duncan but some great dancer, and she said, "We all came to a concert to see this old lady jump around." And she said, "And we were all there to see her fail, because she had been such a wonderful dancer. How could she dance now?" And she said, ",It took her 15 minutes to raise her arm from her side into the air, and that was the dance. And the whole life was in that gesture." And that's amazing when an artist can do it. And Monet did it.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Oh, absolutely.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Monet really did it. The whole life was in that gesture. But, you know, it's— If an artist produces two years of great work—look at Van Gogh, an incredible artist. It's two years, three years. It's enough.

MR. McELHINNEY:  So speaking with you, it seems like it's impossible that you don't have a lot of conversations with collectors and artists you work with. You must be—

MR. GLIMCHER:  I don't have as many conversations with collectors as I used to because they're not interested in conversations.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Is it all just investment?

MR. GLIMCHER:  It's not investment. It's—

MR. McELHINNEY:  Social climbing?

MR. GLIMCHER:  A lot of it's social climbing. And a lot of it is a sudden awareness that there's something else in life. And they now have $30 million apartments on Fifth Avenue, and they're going to hang great stuff on the wall. You know, art is a very powerful tool. You put a great painting in someone's environment who doesn't understand it at all. Give them six months, and that painting will teach them everything they need to know about it. All you need to do is strip away some of the prejudices. And the language is so insistent.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Do you find that—

MR. GLIMCHER:  I don't really have very many people to talk to at all, except my wife, who's an art historian. [Laughs.] We talk all the time. And, you know, I write a lot.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Well, it would seem like you would be a wonderful mentor for a person who was trying to understand how to connect with the art, you know.

MR. GLIMCHER:  I think I would be, too. [Laughs.]

MR. McELHINNEY:  But they're not asking you for advice.

MR. GLIMCHER:  They're not really asking me. It's funny, because people who really knew what they were doing in collecting—let's say the Tremaines—used to sit with me for two hours on Saturday and talk about what the artist was doing, what the work was about. And they really knew. People don't have time now. Some of my most important collectors, some of the people making the most incredible collections, say, "I've ten minutes. Will you have the painting out for me to see?" "I've ten minutes," and rush in after work. It's appalling! "I have ten minutes?"

MR. McELHINNEY:  It's an interesting—

MR. GLIMCHER:  Ten minutes, go soak your head in the toilet. [They laugh.]

MR. McELHINNEY:  It's an interesting disconnect between art or wealth and leisure. The assumption that if you have wealth you have leisure. I suppose that now if you have wealth, you have no leisure. That's why you have the wealth.

MR. GLIMCHER:  That's true.

MR. McELHINNEY:  And that's the price of having the wealth.

MR. GLIMCHER:  And you have ten minutes to look at a painting.

MR. McELHINNEY:  You have ten minutes to stick your head in the toilet.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Mm-hmm. Yes. But there are people. I mean, there are people that are very satisfying. Len Riggio; he's an amazing guy. He started collecting in earnest, I think, with me, and look what he did, you know. Fantastic man. Dia [Art Foundation] wouldn't be there without his support and support of so many artists. Amazing.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Are you closer with artists perhaps?

MR. GLIMCHER:  Oh, yes. I'm much closer with artists than collectors. Always. What do the collectors have to offer me in comparison with what the artists have to offer me? So my dialog—my dialog like this is continuously with Chuck Close—Chuck Close, Bob Irwin, it was Agnes Martin. I think Chuck Close and Bob Irwin are the people that I have the most consistent and greatest dialog with.

MR. McELHINNEY:  How often do you see them?

MR. GLIMCHER:  I see Bob only about five or six times a year. But I see Chuck every other week at least. Talk to him every day on the phone. [They laugh.] Sometimes more than once a day.

MR. McELHINNEY:  We should probably for the sake of the interview—how are we doing for time?

MR. GLIMCHER:  We're doing okay. But I'm actually getting tired.


MR. GLIMCHER:  What were you going to say?

MR. McELHINNEY:  Well, I'd like to just sort of—because this is wonderful, wonderful conversation— But the Archives, I think, is also interested in sort of—

MR. GLIMCHER:  Oh, yes, we're not talking about—

MR. McELHINNEY:  —inquiring about the genesis of the gallery. We're right now, I think, in the chronology somewhere in the early '70s. So you expanded into publishing when? Well, initially with your first—

MR. GLIMCHER:  Well, we started with a portfolio, I think, of [Ernest] Trova's prints when we were still at 9 West.

MR. McELHINNEY:  At 9 West.

MR. GLIMCHER:  In the first three years. And that's how Dick Solomon came into the business. He had left Stop & Shop, which was a sort of training ground. He was vice president at Clairol Hair Products. And he wanted to work with me. I said, "Let's start a publishing business." And his father was very much against it. His father was the head of Paperman Strauss Federated Department Stores. So we did this on the side. We published this. Dick put up the money. We published this portfolio. We sold it out of the gallery. Samaras wanted to do something. We made a Samaras work called Book, which I think is the greatest modern book of the last 25 years. Well, I think of the last 40 years. And we almost went broke on it. No one bought it. It's printed in over a hundred colors and collage and objects; they're coming in out of the book.

And then we started publishing the artists in the gallery. And then we started publishing artists outside the gallery. And then became an entity, and Dick left Clairol. He saw there was a future in it. It was a corner of the gallery, and then it became its own. Then we took another floor in the business. And now we have eight floors. We kept growing that way. And so publishing became a very important part of the gallery. And it gave the artists an outlet. And, see, I started in Boston with my professors. But what I was selling mostly was prints. I love prints. And I was selling Dubuffet prints and Giacometti prints—I was nuts about Dubuffet's prints. And Picasso prints. And, you know, they weren't expensive. You could buy a Picasso print for $100, $125. You could buy a Giacometti limited edition poster, before the lettering, from Gallery Maeght  for $12. The Walking Man in the corner, that huge empty sheet which has become a very important print. Before the poster, I had about ten of them. I bought them from somebody who was—Barbara Krakow was a gallery in Boston.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Right, Barbara Krakow Gallery.

MR. GLIMCHER:  She's a really dear friend. She used to have a gallery called the Carriage House Gallery; they lived in the carriage house, and she sold out of the carriage house. And she would go to Paris and buy them for ten bucks and sell them to me for 12 bucks 'til I understood I could go to Paris and buy them for ten bucks. [They laugh.] And make—I would sell them for 15 bucks. So I love prints. I do today. And I'll still collect beautiful prints, and I have most of Chuck Close's prints. I adore those prints. So, you know, prints were natural to me.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Why don't we pause for a moment, so I can ask you—


MR. GLIMCHER:  Why don't I get a copy of the 40-year book, and that might be good for us to have in front of us.

MR. McELHINNEY:  This is James McElhinney talking with Arne Glimcher on Monday, January the twenty-fifth, at Pace Wildenstein Gallery in New York City. The sky is clear. How are you today?

MR. GLIMCHER:  I'm good. How are you today?

MR. McELHINNEY:  Thank you, fine. I guess the conversation sort of trailed off a couple of weeks ago sometime around the early '70s or mid-'70s. And not that we have to do this in a chronological way.


MR. McELHINNEY:  But, you know, the interview is really trying to interrogate the whole evolution of the gallery.

MR. GLIMCHER:  I think we talked about that early Picasso show.


MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes. I was just trying to think of where we were.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Okay, yes. You were saying that—that's right, it was mid-'70s.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes, this was actually— Yes, this was '81.

MR. McELHINNEY:  'Eighty-one.

MR. GLIMCHER:  So we're into the '80s.

MR. McELHINNEY:  So it's roughly ten years after his death. And you were saying that the later work was not so popular.

MR. GLIMCHER:  People disregarded the later work, yes. Yes, they thought it was—

MR. McELHINNEY:  The addled work of a major—

MR. GLIMCHER:  Mm-hmm. Exactly. So we did that exhibition, which changed the perception of it. I think we went over that. I remember John Richardson, you know, didn't like the work, and then he became a great advocate of the work.


MR. GLIMCHER:  And museum shows happened right after our show: the Guggenheim [Museum] and other shows in Europe. So that was all exciting.

MR. McELHINNEY:  And so after the Picasso show, how did the gallery undertake new directions? It seems like—

MR. GLIMCHER:  Well, I think that show was a huge influence on the, quote, neo-Expressionist artists of the '80s.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

MR. GLIMCHER:  So people like Julian Schnabel, that came directly after that. I mean, there were a lot of terrific shows. There was "The Sculpture of Picasso" [1982].


MR. GLIMCHER:  Which came after that, which I think was a landmark exhibition. There were probably fifty sculptures, amongst them the most important works he ever did, including Femme au Jardin, Woman in the Garden [1930], which we then ultimately placed in the Reina Sofia [Museo Nacional Centro de Arte, Madrid, Spain] right next to the Guernica [1937]. So that was part of this kind of Picasso thing. But continuing in that period of time were the exhibitions of Brice Marden, the Post and Lintel paintings, which I think were very important pictures. And then Julian Schnabel as well. So I think our relationship with Julian started at that time.

MR. McELHINNEY:  So the Picasso exhibition was for you and for the gallery a turning point of sorts. Was it one of the first exhibitions that sort of was more of a museum-type show?

MR. GLIMCHER:  No, no. We'd been doing that for years.


MR. GLIMCHER:  That's been endemic to this gallery, whether it was 1962's Pop Art show, "Stock Up for the Holidays," that survey of Pop Art. But I think this gallery really, after Janis, this gallery took over that idea of museum exhibitions, small museum exhibitions in the context of the gallery.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Because he had the Giacometti and Mondrian and that group.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes. Janis always had that kind of consciousness. But then we started doing exhibitions like the survey of Pop Art, which he also did. We did it after Sidney. But our concern for historical context has always been really endemic to this gallery. That's who we are. So that kind of show happens again and again. We did—right after the Picasso show, we did Gonzalez sculpture, a body of work that Americans are still unfamiliar with and certainly were then in the early '80s. There are so many shows that we did like that; it's hard to remember them all.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Well, we're having a look at a book here which is the—

MR. GLIMCHER:  40 Years at Pace [M. and A. Glimcher, Adventures in Art: 40 Years at Pace (Leonardo International, 2001)].

MR. McELHINNEY:  Adventures in Art.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes, it's the first 40 years of the gallery, so that's now ten years out of date. But, you know, I'm thinking about the continuing exhibitions of our artists happen, like Agnes Martin, a new body of work [exhibition title?]. "Works from the Rothko Estate" had an incredible show of Rothko's classic paintings with a catalog and a text by Irving Sandler, dedicated to [Robert] Goldwater. Tony Smith's paintings and sculptures. Alfred Jensen. Miró.


MR. GLIMCHER:  The sculpture of Miró. I mean, another one of those shows, a huge exhibition.

MR. McELHINNEY:  But he's also an historic artist at this point.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Absolutely.

MR. McELHINNEY:  It's like Pop Art, Robert Irwin, the Minimalists. These were artists with whom you had a relationship, a personal relationship.


MR. McELHINNEY:  Whereas Picasso, Joan Miró, these are historical artists.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Exactly.

MR. McELHINNEY:  So how did you see your way clear to blending this kind of historicism with the contemporaneity of other artists?

MR. GLIMCHER:  Well, that's what museums do.


MR. GLIMCHER:  And I think that, with no humility, we've offered shows that certainly rival museums exhibitions over the last 50 years. And our shows at some museums, I think, should have done. We'll go back to late Picasso. It didn't happen; none of that happened before us. Or as recent as Picasso and cinema. That was a huge exhibition over the last few years. And that's very much a museum show. I think it's who we are, you know. It's where does art come from? We're interested in art as contemporary as Sterling Ruby, who will have his first show with us next month. But at the same time, we're interested in doing things like the Picasso and Braque because it's a continuum. You know, the history of art is a continuum. And you have artists who do not come from nowhere if they're artists of any meaning to this continuum.

You know, there are a couple of kinds of artists: There are artists who make extraordinary works at a specific moment that are enlightening. And there are artists without whom the continuing history of art doesn't flow. An example of an artist I'm not involved with, you certainly cannot have the history of art without Max Ernst, though there's hardly anyone who thinks of a specific Max Ernst like they think of a specific Picasso. But it's one of those inextricable artists from history. I like to bring that kind of thing out. I like to bring that out into the open. So I don't think—I think as great an artist as Giacometti is, I'm not sure that history would have been too much different without him. But it's one of these giant's personal statement is so huge and reverberates psychologically as well as aesthetically to such a degree that his influence is different. It's not a pictorially drawn influence. Whereas Picasso, you take him out of the ongoing history of art, or Mark Rothko or [Jackson] Pollock, something's changed. You just don't have it.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Something's missing.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Something's missing, and it changes the direction of that river, you know.

MR. McELHINNEY:  I think many people assume, in a kind of standard way, the conventional image of the role or mission of a gallery versus the mission of a museum is that the gallery is kind of a commercial adjunct, a kind of a codicil sort of, a gatekeeper to the acquisition of artworks that might be encountered in a museum or housed in a museum. But you're sort of hybridizing this.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Well, it's true. Yes. But what you're saying is true. But it is hybridizing it. I think that you can have both. You can be a gatekeeper. You be the conduit by which museums acquire things and collectors acquire things that eventually get into museums. And then if you have a level of success that allows you to put something back, like making these shows—These are, you know, these are completely ego-soothing exhibitions. I feel I have a vision about something, an idea about something, and I want to share it, and it's going to be at great expense to the gallery; but on the other hand, it keeps enriching the image of who we are.

So let's say you can justify it as research and development, as publicity for the gallery. But in truth I'm doing it because I want to see that show. And I'm egotistical enough to think that I have an idea that's valid enough to share internationally, by making that show and that catalog. Like "Picasso, Braque and Early Cinema." Or "Rothko Murals and Miró Magic Fields" ["Miró and Rothko: Magnetic Fields and Murals," 1987]. You know, there's something of, the Mirós are in the Rothkos. And it's a show nobody did.

So that was a show I wanted to do, [Pierre] "Bonnard/Rothko" [1997]. Mark told me that his—he didn't say I was influenced by Bonnard; but when I talked to him about the influence of Matisse on his work, he said to me, "You know, the colorist I really think you should look at—I really think you should look at—is Bonnard." I thought of Bonnard as a kind of bourgeois painter before that. So that opened my eyes, and I thought, "Wow! Look at these paintings. Look at these Bonnards and how they relate to Rothko." And you can see why he made that statement. So then years later, 15 years later, it's time to make that jump.

And that show was such a huge success, [inaudible], that we had to keep the gallery open until like eight o'clock that Saturday night because there were lines to Park Avenue waiting to get in. It was the last Saturday night of the show. Now, that was a big payoff for me. That was a bigger payoff than selling a $25 million painting. So.

MR. McELHINNEY:  When we spoke before, you explained how you had studied art in Boston. And that you decided that if you couldn't be Picasso, that you'd have to do something else.

MR. GLIMCHER:   Right.

MR. McELHINNEY:  But it seems like now you're sort of working with all of these people, you know, the great artists nationally, shaping how we understand their work.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Well, I feel that that's my role. It's not as much to shape as to share.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Share. But that's, you know—

MR. GLIMCHER:  I'm kind of glad to let you shape. Sure. I think context is really crucial when considering the position of an artist, which is why I've done all these duet shows. You really understand [John] Chamberlain in a different way when you see him in juxtaposition with de Kooning. I mean, that's what happens. It's this magical alliance of this influence and this realization. And it's like the de Koonings jumped into three dimensions in the Chamberlain sculptures. Now they happened during a period—the Pop period―which they only could because he's using materials that were never suitable for making sculpture before.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

MR. GLIMCHER:  So there's this whole idea of the crushed cars, the American landscape, America's fascination with the highway and cars, and all of that comes into Pop. But what's being neglected is: where does that really come from? It comes from de Kooning, as do [Robert] Rauschenberg and Johns.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

MR. GLIMCHER:  You know, they're the people who are keeping the gesture alive. All the other people are destroying the gesture. They come out of Pollock or they come out of Rothko. And this is keeping that gesture alive.


MR. GLIMCHER:  Not so much Rothko—I take that back.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Well, but the automatism of Pollock.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Mm-hmm. Yes.

MR. McELHINNEY:  But I remember as a student talking to Lenny Bocour—

MR. GLIMCHER:  Who made the paints.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Who made the paints. [They laugh.] And he told me that he was out at Pollock's studio in East Hampton [New York]. And walked in the barn, and there was a canvas tacked to the floor, and there were charcoal lines sort of choreographing Arthur Murray's [inaudible]. Now I don't know. I wasn't there. Can't prove it. But, you know, the hand was absent, but the hand was also there somehow. I don't know.

MR. GLIMCHER:  That's interesting. I never heard that.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Yes. Well, I don't know. We'd had a couple of drinks. I don't know. [They laugh.] But he was a friend of a friend, so.

MR. GLIMCHER:  You know, the other thing this gallery does is when we begin representing an artist or an estate or a senior artist, what we're interested in is peeling the layers of that onion and mining what the artist did. You know, there's an unfortunate perception that an artist makes a mark and that mark that becomes famous is the branding of the artist, and that's what the artist is. But there are interesting things that happen in the career to get to that mark. And then past that mark, as you can see with Monet and the papiers de découpage of Matisse, and the very late Dubuffets and the very late de Koonings.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Picasso?

MR. GLIMCHER:  Picasso. So that's something that we do, show all aspects of it. And Rothko, there've been nine exhibitions in unpeeling this onion. And I think that's a great example from the Surrealist works that—You know, when you go to a retrospective of the work at a museum or something, each period has its little niche. And that you get to the blockbuster period. It's not what we do. Our Surrealist show was dazzling and made people realize that that artist was a totality already in itself. That was a body of work that had incredible merit. It wasn't a body of work that was leading to something. It was a period of the artist's work. And that's the kind of thing that we do that nobody else does. Or ever has done.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Well, this now makes me wonder. When you first opened the gallery on Newbury Street, I mean, you must have had an idea that this was the way you were wanting to go.

MR. GLIMCHER:  I didn't have an idea in my head.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Or just a feeling in your bones or something. I mean, you were an artist.

MR. GLIMCHER:  I know. But I didn't—you now it was, I was 20 years old. It was kind of desperation times to make something work or happen.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Okay. Then when was the first moment when you were aware of this ambition?

MR. GLIMCHER:  I think probably in the second year, with the Pop Art show. I wasn't aware of it, but I did a show of three British painters: William Scott, Alan Davie—I can't remember who the third one was. And that was sort of the incipient—

MR. McELHINNEY:  Peter Blake? [David] Hockney?

MR. GLIMCHER:  No, it wasn't. Here it is. It was Alan Davie, Paolozzi, and William Scott. And Paolozzi we showed later for many years. I think, looking back, I was trying to make something, showing that something was happening in England at that moment. That everything wasn't just happening in New York. And those were very intense artists, especially Davies and Paolozzi. Davies largely forgotten, but not in England. There's a sort of resurrection of the work. And I think he's still alive—no, I think he died recently. Died recently. But I think back at that point maybe subliminally I was doing it. But the Pop show, certainly I was bringing a show that was a serving of the contemporary scene in New York to Boston. And introducing the work of these artists for the first time. And these artists were not very well known outside of New York at that moment. Although the media loved them. Nobody had seen them.

MR. McELHINNEY:  As this sort of evolved, this blending of sort of historical exhibitions with contemporary artists who were doing the work a year or so before, a week or so before an exhibition opens, as you looked around, were any other people doing the same thing?


MR. McELHINNEY:  Were there any other galleries that were sort of inspirational to you?

MR. GLIMCHER:  The only gallery that was inspirational to me was Janis. I thought he was—he had a much grander picture of the art world than any of the other galleries that were becoming dominant: Castelli and André Emmerich. But they were in their own niche. Castelli was Pop Art, and Emmerich was Color Field. And they really had the scene, those two galleries. Janis had a—I think I said it before, you know. [Laughs.] There's a terrific line in the American musical Auntie Mame [Broadway, 1966; film 1974]: And she says, "Life is a banquet and most sons of bitches are starving to death." And Janis had that view of the history of art as a banquet, a kind of living banquet. And I think he was the most influential dealer to me. And I still think it was in my—it was the great gallery. He was the only one who sort of bridged at that point the place—the space—between gallery and museum.

MR. McELHINNEY:  So if we come up again to the Picasso exhibition, A one, and then the influence it had on younger artists that emerged as the neo-Expressionists, decade of the  '80s, the Italians, the Germans, the Americans, who were you exhibiting then? You were exhibiting Julian Schnabel.

MR. GLIMCHER:  I was exhibiting Julian, that's all.

MR. McELHINNEY:  That's it?

MR. GLIMCHER:  He was the artist that I chose from that group.

MR. McELHINNEY:  How'd you find him?

MR. GLIMCHER:  We had mutual friends. Leslie Waddington actually told me that he was arranging a show in London of Julian. He was coming to New York. It was summer. Julian was painting in Bridgehampton. And would I like to come out and meet Julian? He would like to meet me. So that was very flattering. I was very impressed with Julian's work. It was brought to my attention by Chuck Close. Julian's first show at Mary's [Mary Boone Gallery, New York City] of plate paintings. Chuck said to me: "Come down there. I want to show you this show. It's a fantastic new artist." Which is interesting—because I may have mentioned it before—the same thing happened with Lucas Samaras, who said, you know, "You've got to see this painter who's fantastic. It's Chuck Close." It was his first show at Bykert [Gallery, New York City].

So I went and visited Julian, and we hit it off just brilliantly. And his counsel was very much at that moment Charles Saatchi. And Saatchi, for obvious reasons, Art Gallery really at that point totally dominated the scene. And it was very good for Saatchi's collection of Schnabel paintings for Schnabel to be in the gallery. So Charles really pushed for Julian to leave Mary and Leo and come with us. And that caused a lot of misery in the art world and excitement and positive reactions for us. But, you know, it's not a question of poaching artists. You know, you can't poach an artist. Artists only come to you, leave a gallery when they're not happy. And we've seen it happen here. Very few times, but that's the way it happens. And so Julian wanted this gallery. Julian wanted a show in the same gallery that showed Picasso. And we were thrilled.

MR. McELHINNEY:  So who else from the Davie show—

MR. GLIMCHER:  That generation, George Condo.

MR. McELHINNEY:  George Condo.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes. We showed George Condo.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Perhaps we could speak a little bit about Chuck Close. You'd spoken earlier about Samaras. So Chuck Close came to your attention through Samaras.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Through Samaras. Then Chuck—I had not heard, but Bykert was closing. And he had very few shows then. And I got a telephone call from a museum curator saying—actually from Marcia Tucker—and Marcia Tucker said, "You know, everybody has been on top of Chuck Close except you [laughs]. Are you not interested?" And I said, "To the contrary, very interested. Is he interested?" And she said, "Well, he'd like very much to meet with you." So we met in June. And he said he would wait until September to make a decision. And he was wined and dined by Janis and by Marlborough. Practically everyone in town wanted Close. Close was, you know, the hottest young property. He was then what Sterling Ruby is now.

So we had a great meeting. I remember it was two-thirty in the afternoon that we met. And then in September he came back, and he called, and he said he'd like to meet. And so we set up a meeting, and we had this very good meeting. And he said, "You know, I've been thinking about it all summer, and I would like to join your gallery." And I said, "I mean, I'm thrilled. That's really great." And I said, "What do you—when do you think you could do an exhibition?" He said, "Would you like to know why I came?" [Laughs.] And I said, "Because you wanted to?" [Laughs.] He said, "No. I came because I like the gallery, one. But everybody took me out to the most lavish places. If it was the best lunch I was going for, it would've been with Leo. If it was the best dinner, it would've been Lutèce with Marlborough with Frank Lloyd." And he went through this thing. He said, "You're the only person who didn't ask me for a meal. And I decided [laughs] I'd like an art dealer who's in his gallery at lunchtime rather than wining and dining."

MR. McELHINNEY:  Oh, that's great. [Laughs.]

MR. GLIMCHER:  Artists and collectors. So that was great. And, you know, he's been one of the cornerstones of this gallery.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

MR. GLIMCHER:  You know there are a few artists— I was having lunch today with Christopher Rothko—so much for not going to lunch. And we were talking, and I said, "People like identify this gallery by a few people, certainly Rothko, Dubuffet, Nevelson, Close, I think Agnes Martin. And then to that you have to add Irwin, although his work is not so public. And Samaras. And we've got wonderful artists. But those sort of are the touchstones of the gallery. That group is more who we are, if you wanted to do a synopsis, than anything else. But, you know, then to add to that, look at all the [Alexander] Calder shows we've had. And we've also mined that estate in an interesting way to show the various periods of the work. And this show we did of anthropomorphic imagery ["Earthly Forms: The Biomorphic Forms of Arp, Calder, and Noguchi," 2000] of [Isamu] Noguchi, Arp, and Calder. That was an amazing show. My son Mark did that. So that's another little museum show that we did. That was a very important show. Or another big museum show that my son did—Mark—"Logical Conclusions[: 40 Years of Rule-Based Art]" [2005], which was the idea of art being made according to systems. I think that was one of the most important shows we've ever done. And people were knocked out by that.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Who was in that show? Who was in that [inaudible]?

MR. GLIMCHER:  That was from Jenny Holzer to—it starts with Reinhardt. It starts with Reinhardt and it goes through Sol LeWitt, all through Minimalism, to I don't know where it ends.

MR. McELHINNEY:  It never ends.

MR. GLIMCHER:  It never ends, but at one point it did. Oh, we did a show that my wife actually did called "Coenties Slip" [1993]. That was a great show. And that was, you know, on Coenties Slip in an abandoned factory building was this group of artists in the early '60s.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Jack Youngerman.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Agnes Martin, Jack Youngerman, Indiana, [Ellsworth] Kelly, Lenore Tawney, and there was one other artist. Anyway, we recreated that. And I think my wife wrote a really important text for that, contextualizing that moment, which no one had done. Coenties Slip was an important moment.

MR. McELHINNEY:  It's really in the middle of nowhere, too. It's down out—now obviously it's the tourist 'hood with the South Street Seaport.

MR. GLIMCHER:  It was a building that only had cold water. And walk-up flats, and  lofts. And they used to have to go across the street to the Seamen's Union to shower.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Oh, yes. Interesting.

MR. GLIMCHER:  And boy, what was happening there. And that's where I met all these people. And that's where the Saturday night loft parties were. That's where I met Agnes, is in Jack Youngerman's loft.

MR. McELHINNEY:  He was married to an actress, wasn't he?

MR. GLIMCHER:  He was married to Delphine Seyrig.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Oh, that's right.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Who was the star of a cult movie, Last Year at Marienbad [1961].

MR. McELHINNEY:  Oh, yes. Art house movie.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Became a―It's still a great art house movie, yes. An amazing beauty, and she was also the star of Buñuel's Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie [1972]. And it was a great time. It was a great time.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Those were the early '60s?

MR. GLIMCHER:  That was the early '60s. Yes.


MR. GLIMCHER: 'Sixty-three to '65 was― And then they all sort of— In '68 the building was condemned. And Agnes moved to New Mexico and stopped painting for eight years.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Galisteo, I think.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes, she moved to Cuba [NM].

MR. McELHINNEY:  Cuba. Oh, Cuba!

MR. GLIMCHER:  Mesa in New Mexico, Cuba, and after that Santa Fe, and then Galisteo. And then ultimately [inaudible]—

MR. McELHINNEY:  Well, it's a splendid place to live if you have to live somewhere.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes, yes.

MR. McELHINNEY:  I think probably today, 2010 already, a lot of people are sort of having with the condition of the art business and the art world and trying to imagine echoes back to the late '80s, early '90s. What kind of a perspective can you offer on sort of that time at the end of the '80s art explosion in New York and elsewhere. The neo-Expressionism and then sort of the—

MR. GLIMCHER:  And then the market crashed.

MR. McELHINNEY:  And then the market crashed.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Another market crash.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Yes, '88, whatever. And then three years later the art world, a lot of galleries closed.

MR. GLIMCHER:  There were more casualties then than now.

MR. McELHINNEY:  And everybody cleared out of SoHo. Yes.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes. There were many more casualties. This has been a surprisingly mild recession in the art world.

MR. McELHINNEY:  In the art business.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes, in the art business. Surprisingly mild. What can I— There are parallels. The market was too hot. People were—it was nothing compared to now.


MR. GLIMCHER:  And people were just gobbling up works. And it was the beginning of this kind of investment mentality, trader mentality, that I think has been so ultimately negative to art. And it begins with Saatchi.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Well, just explain a little bit why—how you feel it's been a negative impact. I mean, I absolutely agree. A lot of people would agree with you. But just articulate your thoughts about that.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Well, I may be proven wrong with time. But it was a question of artists making bodies of works, and they were ready for exhibition. Exhibitions were made. That's when everything changed, in the '80s. Exhibitions were planned. The calendars were planned a year and a half, two years in advance. And artists were going to have shows. So they were making products for those shows. It turned into—in the most recent adjustment of the market—it turned into factories. And people thought that, you know, Warhol gave them the license for factories. But those of us who were there in the factory, the factory wasn't a factory. The factory was an artist's studio where something new was happening. It wasn't a machine shop. It wasn't someplace that he wasn't there and having artists in different locations, different factories making works to satisfy the rapaciousness of the public, of the collecting public.

So, you know, art at any time is what it is, and it's all you have, and whether you like it or not. But it doesn't mean it's great, and it doesn't mean that art runs—great art—runs like water from the faucet. There are periods when there's no great art. And those periods are always up for reevaluation. But there are periods where there's no great art. And I think so much was invested in the idea of collecting and the reinvention of popular culture from the '90s to last year, that it wasn't—it did not promote the greatest creativity. If you're a young artist and you sold out your first show, which every young artist sold out their first show because for the first time people were betting, like on races. Which horse was going to be the next Johns? But, you know, maybe there isn't a next Johns. Maybe there isn't a next Johns for the next 20 years. Or a Rauschenberg or a Close. So I think that's a dangerous—I think that's not good for art.

MR. McELHINNEY:  That the anticipation of filthy lucre at the end of the venture does not always help in the muse.

MR. GLIMCHER:  It doesn't help the muse. You know, because this young artist sells out his show, there are 20 people waiting for the next paintings. Is he going to do something else?

MR. McELHINNEY:  That's some kind of a pressure.

MR. GLIMCHER:  It's some kind of pressure.

MR. McELHINNEY:  It's some kind of pressure. I mean, it used to be, too, artists of all stripes sold out any first show because they all had relatives.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

MR. McELHINNEY:  [Laughs] But not on the level of which you're speaking. But I think that— Yes, I've heard this a lot from other interviewees, too, that this sort of the presence of the dollar in everything. It's like with antiques. It's all Antiques Road Show: What's it worth?

MR. GLIMCHER:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative]

MR. McELHINNEY:  You know. Of course the answer has to be, well, from year to year that could change.


MR. McELHINNEY:  It rises and falls, as does everything else.


MR. McELHINNEY:  Like the cost of oranges or bananas. But art should exist on a higher, some kind of higher, more interesting level than that.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Well, one thinks so. But, you know, in retrospect it's pretty fascinating. It's a pretty fascinating sociological phenomenon, what happened. But that doesn't mean it produced great art. But it did produce an interesting phenomenon.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Well, having seen three, four of these—

MR. GLIMCHER:  Cycles.

MR. McELHINNEY:  —economic crashes in your career, what sort of passionately held ideals have you lost? And what fundamental truths have you found have endured?

MR. GLIMCHER:  I don't think I've lost anything. I still believe in the art I believe in. I still think that the muse exists in the artist and always will. That doesn't mean that the art is going to look the same as we go along. And it could very well be that a lot of the art that was beneath notice in this period is really the most significant art in this past period. It was—nobody cared anything about the late Gustons [Philip Guston] when they were being made. He died, you know, with the late works being a failure. And then they were like the late Picassos, so influential. So I don't know. My ideals stayed the same. These are blips on the horizon of art. You know, they're—it's not important. You know, finally what we do is very important, and it's not important at all, because the art would make it anyway. Art is something that is—it's intrinsic so this society. It is the greatest flowering of humanity, the arts in general. And we are sort of midwives and help, I think, the public understand a little bit better. And if you really want to be there at the moment of birth of art and ideas, you go to the galleries, not the museums. If you're really not so attuned and don't know what's happening, then you wait and go to the museums.

So, you know, it's ultimately a very secondary role. We push things along for the better or the worse, to be perceived very early. And sometimes it hurts the art, and sometimes it helps the artist. But it would happen anyway without us, because art happens. It creates its own constituency. So that's kind of humbling. The older I get, the more humble I think I feel in a funny way. And the less necessary I feel. But it's been an interesting journey. And it's been an incredible privilege to be there for the unfolding of all of this, and in specific areas see it unfolding in the studio. And be able to have a dialog. Not that I've influenced any artist to make art. I haven't. But I've certainly encouraged artists to be able to make art.

MR. McELHINNEY:  That's an important point, I think, because I think a lot of people, scholars, people perhaps that are not intimately involved with the world of the artist, the dealing,  the collector might imagine that some dealers might try to press artists to either hold to a formula that is known to sell or to attract attention or to change or to try to lead them towards a market.


MR. McELHINNEY:  As opposed to nurturing them in their own vision.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes. What I think we do best is present the work and make it possible for the artist to make his work without—and remove some of the outside pressures. So artists who have wanted to build things, have visions, or sculptures, environments, whatever, we've been able to finance that and make those things happen. So in that way we're important in the artists' realizing their visions. And the presentation of the work and the dissemination of the imagery, catalogs, essays, I hope is part of the general literary canon of understanding art. You know, when you've published almost 400 catalogs, just about all of them with text, you know.

At lunch I was looking at these incredible texts by Robert Rosenthal and Brian O'Doherty and Kirk Varnedoe, all these Rothko catalogs, these texts are part of the literature. I think you can't study the period without our catalogs. That I'm very proud of. And that leaves something for future generations to be able to feel the time, what happened at the moment, what was being exhibited, and what was being said about it. And do you agree with it or not? You know, it's fine, but for research I think it's crucial. Which is why, you know, we're having this conversation because I don't particularly like this conversation.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Oh, I'm sorry.

MR. GLIMCHER:  No, no. It just is—I don't like to think about the past that much. You know, I left you the last time completely depressed. I came home, and I said to Millie, "That was just awful." [Laughs.]

MR. McELHINNEY:  I'm sorry. I hope that scholars reading this in the future will honor your sacrifice. [They laugh.] But the interesting point that you make is that these catalogs, these publications that are occurring with these exhibitions, whether it's, you know, the publications that you've done or other people have done or a [inaudible] magazine from the '50s, these are all really sort of the primary materials other than artists' letters.

MR. GLIMCHER:  They are. They are.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Other than artists' letters. I think that a lot of scholars, having an art historian wife myself, a lot of young scholars are going to publish works or they're going to sort of—works that are, or scholarship that's at the museum level, and not going back to the galleries, going into the artists' own papers.

MR. GLIMCHER:  See, what's exciting is—for me—as opposed to scholars or curators that make exhibitions, is we're one step away; they're, at best, two steps away, from the artist. And, you know, I'm there for the dialog.


MR. GLIMCHER:  Or in some of the instances with the so-called museum-esque exhibitions that we do, I'm creating the dialog. And in the future people will— You know, it's so interesting. You have to be careful of your ego at points because, you know, I go to a symposium or something, and they're talking about Agnes Martin. And I think, "What are you talking about? You don't know what the hell you're talking about. That's not what the work is about at all." And it's quite interesting. There was this big symposium two years ago at Dia on Agnes Martin's work. And scholars came from all over. I was not invited. I thought that was just unbelievable. There's no one in the world that knows the work like I do. But I'm not a scholar. Luckily. I'm not a scholar. I just happen to be the firsthand information. [Laughs.]

MR. McELHINNEY:  Right, right. So you didn't have to be the one, you know, to put it into embalming fluid.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes. But I mean, how stupid they were not to ask me.

MR. McELHINNEY:  I'd say so.

MR. GLIMCHER:  How stupid Lynne Cook was not to ask me to be part of it, because I do have the information. I know what the inspirations are. I know what the dialog was. You know, the first book on Agnes Martin's work that's going to come out next fall is actually mine. Phaedon is publishing this first book on her paintings, her writings, and my history with her.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Well, some of the people you spoke of who wrote on Rothko, people like Brian O'Doherty, you know, whom I know a little bit.

MR. GLIMCHER:  He knew Mark.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Yes. And he knew Duchamp, he knew all these people. And a terrific writer and artist in his own right.


MR. McELHINNEY:  And Pavilla [ph] was an artist in his own right. And you were an artist; that was your starting point.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Yes, yes.

MR. McELHINNEY:  That's very significant, I think.

MR. GLIMCHER:  I think it works.

MR. McELHINNEY:  I know you're looking at your watch, and we've got to wind this up. But not to depress you too much—


MR. McELHINNEY:  But looking forward, what hope have you that someone is going to do what you've done or try to follow the same—

MR. GLIMCHER:  Oh, I don't have hope. I have assurance.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Good. I mean apart from your own son.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Well, Marc, that's all I can—that's all I care about. He's an intellectual, and he has, you know, Sterling Ruby's really his artist. Tara Donovan is really his artist. And there's the same kind of thing is happening. So in that way I'm very lucky. And there will be other dealers that'll come along like that, too. They're out there in the atmosphere somewhere. But they've got to be people who are not—where commerce is not their primary motivation. And I'm not sure how much of that is possible anymore, because—not when there are courses in universities now being given on the business of art dealing.

MR. McELHINNEY:  But how pertinent really are those courses? And who is teaching them?

MR. GLIMCHER:  They're ridiculous, ridiculous. I never took a course on the business of art dealing. What do I know about the business of art dealing?

MR. McELHINNEY:  Well, we were speaking about this earlier, that there are in a lot of art schools and a lot of universities a senior kind of exit seminar where they explain how to write a cover letter and how to approach galleries. And they're taught by people who don't know anything about what they're teaching.

MR. GLIMCHER:  And the cover letter and approaching galleries, you know, you've got to know somebody. [Laughs.] That's it.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Yes. It's very social, it's very personal.


MR. McELHINNEY:  It's very idiosyncratic. The dealers are evolving their people. They're like artists in their own right.

MR. GLIMCHER:  You know, the big thing is you make something fabulous, and the art world will beat its path to your door. That's all. You can be in a cave in the basement, there are no secrets anymore. All you have to do is really be great.

MR. McELHINNEY:  So needless to say, that the Internet and technology and IT communications will only hasten the process.

MR. GLIMCHER:  It'll hasten the process, absolutely.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Which is good news for young artists, I guess.

MR. GLIMCHER:  It is—or I hope it's good news. It might be bad news. Maybe young artists have been gratified too quickly. [Knocking on door.]

MR. McELHINNEY:  I think you're being summoned.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Thanks!

MR. McELHINNEY:  I thank you for your time.

MR. GLIMCHER:  I think we have it, don't you?

MR. McELHINNEY:  Sorry if it's been a painful process. It's been a very interesting conversation.

MR. GLIMCHER:  You know, I just don't—I don't like looking back very much. And I think this fiftieth anniversary show coming up is not necessarily good for my head. But I think it's something that we should do. [Laughs.]

MR. McELHINNEY:  Well, there is something to be said for crafting a memory. That can be a positive thing.

MR. GLIMCHER:  I think so. Look, I think it's—I'm really glad we did this. I would never have done it if you hadn't, you know, come to me. I wouldn't have done it, and for what it's worth, what's here is here now. So I think that's good.

MR. McELHINNEY:  I hope it's useful.

MR. GLIMCHER:  People have asked me to write a memoir because I've known all of these great people and everything. And I just can't get myself to do it.

MR. McELHINNEY:  Well, perhaps one day.

MR. GLIMCHER:  Perhaps when I'm really old. [Laughs.]

MR. McELHINNEY:  Thanks so much for your time.

MR. GLIMCHER:  No, it's a pleasure, a pleasure.



Last updated...December 10, 2015


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Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Arne (Arnold) Glimcher, 2010 Jan. 6-25. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.