Ted Bonin, the New York Art Gallerist Who Nurtured the Careers of Genre-Defying Artists, Has Died at Age 65
The dealer helped shape the careers of artists including Mona Hatoum, Ree Morton, and Paul Thek.
Ted Bonin, a veteran dealer who helped turn a diverse set of artists into institutional mainstays, died of natural causes at his home in Manhattan on Tuesday, April 4. He was 65.
The news was confirmed by Alexander and Bonin, the gallery he co-founded nearly three decades ago with fellow dealer Carolyn Alexander.
“In 1995, when Ted and I started Alexander and Bonin, we shared the same goals, which were to represent artists and build their careers,” Alexander said in a statement shared with Artnet News. She called Bonin a “generous and supportive colleague” and said, “our years of working together were deeply rewarding for both me and the artists with whom we worked.”
“We join our colleagues, the curators, and the artists with whom he worked in expressing our profound sadness at his passing,” Alexander continued.
Since its founding, Alexander and Bonin has developed a reputation for working with rigorous, genre-defying artists, many now deceased and underappreciated during their lifetimes. Mona Hatoum, who is today among the world’s most accomplished artists, had her first significant shows at the gallery, as did John Ahearn and Rita McBride.
The gallery, and Bonin in particular, developed long-lasting relationships with artists’ estates, including those of Ree Morton, who was killed in a car accident in 1977, and Paul Thek, who died from complications from AIDS in 1988. Bonin was instrumental in bringing a retrospective of the latter artist’s work to the Whitney Museum in 2010.
“With Ted’s death, I have lost a dear friend and colleague,” Elisabeth Sussman, the curator of the Whitney’s Thek retrospective, told ARTnews, which first reported news of Bonin’s passing. “Ted was exceptional as a scholarly and exacting advocate for every artist that he, as a dealer, represented, including, among others, Paul Thek and Sylvia Mangold. He will be missed by many.”
Bonin was born in 1958 and grew up in Beverly, Massachusetts. At the age of 18, he moved to New York and matriculated at Columbia University, where he studied art history. In 1980, after graduation, Bonin went to work as an assistant to the director of the Museum of Modern Art’s art-lending service. Roughly three years later, Bonin joined Brooke Alexander gallery, which Alexander had previously founded with her husband.
The Alexanders separated in the early 1990s, at which point Brooke Alexander took control of the eponymous gallery and Carolyn Alexander split off with Bonin to found Alexander and Bonin.
The duo’s first show, a presentation of photographs and videos by Irish artist Willie Doherty, opened on New Tork’s Wooster Street in 1996. A year later, Alexander and Bonin moved to Chelsea—a neighborhood that was, at the time, known more for industrial manufacturing than art. But the gallery remained in the same location for the next 19 years, and in doing so, helped turn the neighborhood into one of the city’s most prominent art destinations.
In 2016, Alexander and Bonin decamped to another up-and-coming arts neighborhood, Tribeca. The move represented something of a homecoming for the gallery, which settled into a building located just blocks from the site of its first space.
“The architecture and the feeling of the neighborhood reminds me of the time when I first went to galleries in the ’70s and ’80s,” Bonin said of the move in a 2016 interview with the New York Times. The new location, he added, recalled a time “when nobody talked about the market.”
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