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Oral history interview with Virginia Dwan, 1984 March 21-June 7

Dwan, Virginia, 1931-, Dwan, Virginia, 1931-

Collector, Gallery owner, Philanthropist


Collection Information

Size: 192 Pages, Transcript

Format: Originally recorded on 10 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 19 digital wav file. Duration is 11 hr., 20 min.

Summary: An interview of Virginia Dwan conducted 1984 March 21-June 7, by Charles F. Stuckey, for the Archives of American Art.
Dwan speaks of her background and education; her early interest in art; starting her gallery in 1959 in Los Angeles; the early days of her gallery; the development of her circle of artists; early shows; financing the gallery; "shopping" for art and artists; public and critical reaction to her gallery's shows; the decision to go to New York, and getting established there; making decisions about what to show; collectors; the closing of the Dwan Gallery; and her life since. She also relates anecdotes about the creation and execution of Robert Smithson's "Spiral Jetty" and reminisces about numerous artists with whom she was associated, including: Jean Tinguely, Robert Rauschenberg, Yves Klein, Ad Reinhardt, Ed Kienholz, Philip Guston, Arman, Robert Smithson, Franz Kline, Kenneth Snelson, Carl Andre, Sol Lewitt, Michael Heizer, Walter De Maria, and Robert Ryman.

Biographical/Historical Note

Virginia Dwan (1931- ) is an art dealer from New York, New York.


These interviews are 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 others.

Language Note

English .


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.

How to Use This Collection

For information on how to access this interview contact Reference Services.

Authorization to quote or reproduce for the purposes of publication requires written permission from Anne Kovach. Contact Reference Services for more information.

Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Virginia Dwan, 1984 March 21-June 7. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.