Art Dealer Barbara Gladstone Dies at 89

Art dealer Barbara Gladstone, founder of Gladstone Gallery, died at the age of 89 in Paris last Sunday, June 16, after a brief illness, the gallery confirmed. With locations in New York City, Los Angeles, Brussels, and Seoul, the gallery represents 72 artists and estates including Robert Mapplethorpe, Arthur Jafa, Frances Stark, Amy Sillman, Joan Jonas, Anish Kapoor, Alex Katz, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Wangechi Mutu, Carrie Mae Weems, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and dozens more.

Insights into Gladstone’s personal life are rare, as she maintained discretion for over 40 years while in the public eye. A mother of three, Gladstone left her job as an art history professor at Hofstra University on Long Island in 1980 in order to spearhead her namesake Manhattan gallery that would soon showcase the likes of Jenny Holzer and Keith Haring. Throughout its 44-year history, the gallery is credited with launching various careers through solo debuts, including that of Matthew Barney in 1991.

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In a 2011 interview with the Wall Street Journal, Gladstone said that the original gallery space was “the size of a shoebox” with a monthly rent of $700. She commented on the connection between being an art dealer and raising a family, saying that in both cases, “you’re responsible for helping someone develop to the best of their potential.”

“Barbara valued her relationships with artists above all else and remained their advocate up until the end,” Gladstone Gallery said in a statement sent to Hyperallergic. “She championed artists who are breaking new ground with their work and stood with them as they developed their practices, noting that ‘you have to sense in someone’s work the possibility of longevity.’”

Gladstone moved her primary location to Chelsea in 1996 and opened a second location in the area in 2008, quickly followed by the Brussels branch that same year. Five months into the COVID-19 pandemic, art dealer Gavin Brown closed his gallery and forged a partnership with Gladstone, adding 10 of his formerly represented artists to the gallery’s roster. In 2022, Gladstone Gallery inaugurated its Seoul space with a solo exhibition of Philippe Parreno’s works.

“Though many of us expected Barbara to live forever, she has been preparing for this day and set her leadership transition plans in motion in 2016, when Max [Falkenstein] became a co-owner of the Gallery,” the gallery’s statement continued.

Falkenstein will continue to steer the gallery’s team of partners, with Brown leading artist relations.


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