It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of the founder of the Donald Young Gallery
. After a yearlong battle with cancer, Donald Young was surrounded by his family when he died on April 12 in Chicago.
An influential and internationally known gallerist, Young will be remembered for his intellectual curiosity and commitment to the artists he represented, a number of whom he worked closely with for more than three decades. Young was widely admired and respected for his unique vision and his dedication to the production of complex new projects and commissions. He lived his life with intense determination and a deeply felt sense of ethics and responsibility towards art and artists.
Young shared an abiding interest in architecture and design with his wife Shirley Weese Young, a graphic designer, who created the galleryʼs graphic identity and materials. Together they built a number of remarkable architectural projects and interior renovations for their homes and the gallery. In addition to his dedication to the visual arts, Young was an active supporter of civil and human rights as well as environmental causes.
Born in England in 1942, Young began his career as an assistant in a London gallery, moving to Paris in the early 1960s. There he spent ten years as a private dealer of 20th century European masters and contemporary American art. Following a brief period in New York, together with Rhona Hoffman he opened the Young Hoffman Gallery in Chicago in 1976, focusing on Minimal and Conceptual art.
In 1983, he established the Donald Young Gallery, continuing to exhibit important artists such as Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Jannis Kounellis, Robert Mangold, Sol LeWitt, Martin Puryear, and later Jeff Koons, Charles Ray, James Welling, Josiah McElheny, and Anne Chu. Young became well known for his early involvement with media artists such as Gary Hill, Bill Viola, Rodney Graham, and Joshua Mosley. Young also worked with Bruce Nauman, Richard Serra, and Ulrich Rückriem on numerous large-scale and outdoor projects. The gallery presented significant installations and projects by European artists such as Sophie Calle, Tony Cragg, Cristina Iglesias, Richard Long, Andrew Lord, Thomas Schütte, Rosemarie Trockel, Rebecca Warren and Mark Wallinger. As well, Young was committed to Chicago artists, exhibiting Jeanne Dunning, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Laura Letinsky and Tony Tasset.
After a move to Seattle in the early 1990s, the gallery returned to Chicago in 1999. In 2009, the Donald Young Gallery moved to the historic Santa Fe building located across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago.
Prior to his death, Young inaugurated an ambitious series of exhibitions that brought together the work of contemporary artists and the writings of the Swiss author, Robert Walser (1878-1956). Young invited a select group of artists to create work inspired by Walserʼs writings to be exhibited together with archival material and facsimiles of Walserʼs Microscripts. A publication in collaboration with Christine Burgin is forthcoming.
Donald Young is survived by his wife Shirley Weese Young, and his children Sophia Bapt, Vanessa Young, Julia Weese-Young and Blake Young.