A Symposium with Christie’s Education Is Taking a Closer Look at the Legacy of Women Art Dealers

The two-day conference will focus on the pioneering women art dealers who forged paths in the post-war years from the 1940s to the 1990s.

"Women Art Dealers (1940–1990)" will examine the legacies of leading women dealers in second half of the 20th century. Photograph courtesy of Christie's Education. © Astrid Dill.

Lately, the art world has been correcting some of its blind spots about the profound role of women in the field.

The Hilma af Klint show at the Guggenheim was the most well-attended exhibition in the museum’s history, despite focusing on a largely unknown, late 19th-century Swedish mystic. Now the upcoming Whitney Biennial will include (refreshingly) an equal number of male and female artists. And though female artists, past and present, seem to be getting some overdue attention, there is a noticeable lack of dialogue about the other side of the art world: women art dealers and gallerists.

“Women Art Dealers (1940–1990)”, a two-day (May 17–18) symposium organized by Christie’s Education is hoping to change that. Led by Véronique Chagnon-Burke, academic director of Christie’s education in New York, the conference will explore the legacy of pioneering women dealers in the modern era from around the world. 

Peggy Guggenheim at Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, Venice, in the 1960s, with Picasso's The Studio behind. Photo: © Fondazione Solomon R. Guggenheim, Archivio CameraphotoEpoche, Donazione Cassa di Risparmio di Venezia, 2005.

Peggy Guggenheim at Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, Venice, in the 1960s. Guggenheim will be the focus of a lecture during Christie’s Education’s “Women Art Dealers.” Photo: © Fondazione Solomon R. Guggenheim, Archivio CameraphotoEpoche, Donazione Cassa di Risparmio di Venezia, 2005.

“Women art dealers have played a central role in the development of modern art,” Chagnon-Burke says. “After World War II, an increasing number of women in Europe and the USA risked supporting art that few other art dealers would have taken a chance on. One of the aims of our symposium is to bring to light the careers of such women.”

Over two days, Women Art Dealers will examine three central topics: women’s promotion of Modern art after World War II; women’s introduction of new fields into the art market; and the global network of women dealers that emerged in the second half of the 20th century, and how that development has reoriented the art market. 

Fittingly, the symposium falls soon after the opening of the Venice Biennale, which takes place in a city where the great arts patron Peggy Guggenheim has a museum in her name. She is just one of many women leaders who will be discussed by a roster of leading scholars and dealers in the field.

Promising conversations include: “Simone Kahn: From Member to Promoter of Surrealism” (Friday), a reexamination of the life of Kahn, the under-recognized ex-wife of André Breton; “Topazia Alliata and the Formal Zeroing” (Friday), a conversation on the Italian curator, painter, and dealer who passed away in 2015; and “Dealing with Contemporary Art: Etheline Rosas between Sao Paulo and Porto” (Saturday), a look at the woman who helped define an international conversation on Modernism.

Women Art Dealers will take place from May 17–18, 2019, at Christie’s Education, New York. 1230 Avenue of the Americas, 20th floor.

Tickets for this event are currently available for $180. All proceeds from the symposium will be donated to the Christie’s Education Trust. Program details are available here


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