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The Fralin showcases the impact of the dealer on American art in 'Dealer's Choice: The Samuel Kootz Gallery 1945-1966'
Ray Parker, American, 1922–1990. Untitled, 1960. Oil on canvas. 80 3/4 x 69 7/8 in (205.11 x 177.48 cm). Gift of Samuel M. Kootz, L.L.B. 1921, in memory of William C. Seitz (1914–1974), William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Art History (1970–1974), 1975.1. © Estate of Ray Parker/Courtesy of Washburn Gallery, New York.


CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA.- The first exhibition to examine the critical role of art dealer Samuel Kootz (1898-1982) in the establishment of modern American art as an international force debuted Aug. 25 at The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia, Dealer’s Choice: The Samuel Kootz Gallery 1945-1966 provides a new perspective on a seminal moment in American art and features the work of Abstract Expressionists including Robert Motherwell, Hans Hofmann, Adolph Gottlieb and William Baziotes.

Through archival research and consideration of works originally handled by the Kootz gallery, Dealer’s Choice highlights Kootz’s efforts to promote a group of American artists who created a radically new visual language that transformed established ideas about art. It was through dealers such as Kootz that New York City’s status was elevated in the art world.

Until now, Kootz has been underrepresented in postwar period scholarship, although he represented much of the major talent in 20th-century art. A law graduate of the University of Virginia, Kootz used his legal training and a keen sense for marketing and advertising to ensure his gallery was critical to the promotion of avant-garde art in America. “This combination of skills created a global impact on the art world, one that is still felt today,” said Matthew McLendon, director and chief curator of The Fralin. “New York City is still an epicenter for modern American art and the artist, dealer, collector relationship.”

“The exhibition looks at American art through an unusual lens of both gallerist and agent,” said Rebecca Schoenthal, curator of exhibitions at The Fralin. “Much of the show focuses on the formative years of the Kootz gallery, during which Picasso and Motherwell served as cornerstones, representing the old and new guard.”

Presenting more than 50 works of art, Dealer’s Choice includes highlights such as Adolph Gottlieb’s celebrated paintings The Frozen Sounds, Number 1 (1951, The Whitney Museum of American Art) and Frozen Sounds II (1952, The Albright-Knox Art Gallery) that mark the transition from his use of Surrealist ‘pictographs’ to Abstract Expressionist ‘bursts’; Hans Hofmann’s The Vanquished (1959, University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive) which illustrates the artist’s famed ‘push-pull’ aesthetic, critical to his teachings and work; William Baziotes’s Figures in Smoke #2 (1947) a recent Fralin acquisition and an important watercolor from a seminal year in Baziotes’s career; and Robert Motherwell’s The Red Skirt (1947, Whitney Museum of American Art) a painting that reflects the artist’s interest in primordial themes, and the first of the large-scale compositions he began in 1947.

Admission to The Fralin and to the exhibition is free.

A version of this exhibition will travel to the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York in January 2018.






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