NEW YORK, NY.- Renowned art dealer, beloved husband, father, and grandfather, Ira Spanierman died on July 9, 2019, after a courageous battle with heart and lung illness. He was 90 years old. Ira is survived by his wife of sixty-two years, the former Helen Fraser, whom he married in 1958, and by their sons, David, born 1960 and Gavin, born 1965; his son, Jonathan, born in 1963 pre-deceased him in 1997. Ira attended the Hun School in Princeton, NJ, and studied for two years at Syracuse University. Ira was the son of Sam and Pauline Spanierman. In 1928 Sam founded the Savoy Auction Galleries, long located on 59th Street at Fifth Avenue. Ira began to work with his father in 1950, often serving as auctioneer] In 1961 he opened his own gallery at 1109 Lexington Avenue, specializing in American painting and sculpture especially of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Gallery moved to larger quarters at 50 East 78th Street in 1966, and in 1994 relocated to East 58th Street. Ira expanded the space in 2006, opening Spanierman Modern. Ira retired and closed the Gallery in 2014.
Ira was one of the most prominent and respected dealers in historical American art; he was a member of the Art and Antique Dealers Association, The Appraisers Association of America, The Confederation Internationale des Negociants en Oeuvres d'Art,, the Association of Historians of American Art (AHAA), and the Thomas Cole Foundation. He was instrumental in the development of the collections of Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, Meyer and Vivian Potamkin, Raymond and Margaret Horowitz, and Daniel and Rita Fraad, among many others. Underlying his dedication to promoting the Americas artistic heritage was a profound love of the paintings that moved through the gallery, simply for their beautyof which he was a keen judgewhatever the market of the moment might value them. Ira is especially to be honored for the support he gave to American art scholarship, undertaking the catalogue raisonnés of John Twachtman, Theodore Robinson, and Willard Metcalf, and publishing the comprehensive record of the work of Winslow Homer. Homer held a special place in his heart; he felt privileged to have mounted an exhibition of the Cooper Union (now the Cooper-Hewitt Museum) collection of early oil paintings by Winslow Homer in 1968
Iras fine eye was not limited to appreciation of American art; he probably attracted the most celebrity for his discovery, acquisition, and eventual sale of a major portrait by Raphael. Less recognized, but of deeper personal satisfaction were the numerous innovative scholarly catalogues and independent publications he sponsored, predominantly, but not exclusively, dealing with American Impressionist and turn-of-the-century artists, especially Twachtman. He was very proud of the exhibition and publication he produced in 1999 on the work of the noted painter, printmaker and teacher, Arthur Wesley Dow. Ira provided opportunities to the many people who worked for him in sales and research over the years. His dedication to American art was demonstrated in his invariable generosity to scholars and researchers in the field, a contribution that leaves no tangible record, but is remembered by friends, peers and associates in the field of American Art History.