LORETTA HOWARD GALLERY HONORS THE EMMERICH LEGACY
ANDRE EMMERICH WAS ONE OF NEW YORK’S LEGENDARY ART GALLERY OWNERS AND DEALERS IN THE LATE 20TH CENTURY. HAVING ARRIVED IN THE UNITED STATES IN 1941, HE OPENED HIS FIRST GALLERY IN 1954. THE ARTISTS HE REPRESENTED DURING THEIR FORMATIVE YEARS INCLUDE ANTHONY CARO, MORRIS LOUIS, DAVID HOCKNEY, HELEN FRANKENTHALER AND HANS HOFFMAN AND HE WAS CELEBRATED AS AN EARLY CHAMPION OF THE PAINTERS OF THE COLOR FIELD MOVEMENT. AS A DEALER, EMMERICH WAS A DEDICATED AND IMPASSIONED CONNOISSEUR OF THE CONTEMPORARY ART OF HIS GENERATION AS WELL AS PRE-COLUMBIAN ANTIQUITIES. HE WAS ALSO A GREAT INFLUENCE ON A GENERATION OF DEALERS WHO FOLLOWED IN HIS FOOTSTEPS, INITIALLY WORKING FOR HIM AND THEN ULTIMATELY OPENING GALLERIES OF THEIR OWN. LORETTA HOWARD, PRINCIPAL AND OWNER OF THE LORETTA HOWARD GALLERY, AT 525 WEST 26TH STREET, IN CHELSEA, WAS INSPIRED BY EMMERICH’S DEDICATION TO MAINTAINING A GALLERY OF INTEGRITY AND DISTINCTION AND TO HIS COMMITMENT TO THE ART OF THE 50s AND 60s. HER GALLERY, THE ARTISTS SHE REPRESENTS AND EXHIBITIONS SHE CURATES ARE A TRIBUTE TO THIS LEGACY. http://www.lorettahoward.com
LORETTA, YOU WERE THE DIRECTOR OF THE ANDRE EMMERICH GALLERY ON 57th STREET FOR MANY YEARS. EMMERICH WAS AN INFLUENTIAL FIGURE IN THE ART WORLD, SUAVE, EUROPEAN AND URBANE WHO INTRODUCED AND SUPPORTED THE ARTISTS OF THE SIXTIES AS WELL AS PROVIDING SCHOLARSHIP AND A MARKET FOR THE MOST REMARKABLE PRE-COLUMBIAN ART AND OBJECTS.
HOW DID THE EXPERIENCE OF WORKING WITH EMMERICH INFLUENCE YOU IN YOUR FUTURE PURSUITS IN THE ART WORLD?
I learned everything I know about running a gallery from Andre. He set high standards and expected near perfection from his employees. Although perfectly in the right and never mean in spirit, a scolding from Andre would reduce me tears, which happened many a time, before I learned how to meet his standards. I started answering the phones at Emmerich. By doing so, I quickly learned about the clients and artists. It was a large enough gallery that one could move up through the ranks, which over the 11 years I eventually did. I have remained very faithful to the Emmerich aesthetic. I still represent or deal in works by many of the artists from the Emmerich gallery. Andre’s approach was scholarly in nature. He cared about the careers of his artists and always thought about the larger picture rather than a single sale. So many of Andre’s sayings still come to mind in the course of my work. For example when speaking about an artist’s career he would say “we must keep flying the flag.” His advice about collectors, it “might be our work but it is their hobby” remains helpful to this day. In distain, “the art in restaurants is like the food in museums.” He became as much a father figure to me as a mentor so it was especially meaningful that years later, when I had my own gallery, he would faithfully attend my openings and approve.
YOUR CURRENT EXHIBITION AT THE GALLERY IS AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE OF THE FOCUS AND COMMITMENT YOU MAKE TO ARTISTS OF THIS PERIOD. CURRENTLY ON VIEW ARE THE ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONIST PAINTINGS OF EDWARD DUGMORE, BROUGHT TOGETHER IN A SOLO EXHIBITION ENTITLED “ANCIENT EVENINGS: A RETROSPECTIVE OF EDWARD DUGMORE” THAT TRACES THE TRAJECTORY OF DUGMORE’S WORK OVER MORE THAN 50 YEARS OF PAINTING, ARCHETYPAL WORKS OF THE 50s AND 60s THAT EXEMPLIFY HIS ROMANTIC VISION OF ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM.
IN THE BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN CATALOGUE THAT ACCOMPANIES THE EXHIBITION, ART CRITIC HOWARD HURST PLACES THE WORK OF EDWARD DUGMORE IN THE CONTEXT OF THE ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONIST MOVEMENT AS HE WRITES:
FOR Edward Dugmore painting and life formed inseparable prac- tices. The son of a photographer, he spent countless hours helping his father develop negatives in the family’s makeshift darkroom. He began drawing as a child, and with his mother’s encouragement en- tered the Hartford Art School with a full scholarship in 1934. There he received a classical training, studying the Renaissance masters
and learning to grind his own pigments (a process crucial to his painting throughout most of his life.) Following graduation he spent a summer at the Kansas City Art Institute studying with famed regional artist Thomas Hart Benton. In 1943, like countless men of his generation he joined the United States Marines.
In 1948 he moved to San Francisco where he attended the San Francisco School of Fine Arts on the GI Bill and founded the influential Metart Gallery. It was there, working alongside artists like Sam Francis and Richard Diebenkorn and under the dynamic and furious tutelage of Clyfford Still, that Dugmore inherited his full potential as an American painter of the postwar era. Though New York was to accept the torch from Paris as the new international city of Art, San Francisco enjoyed an im- portant moment as a potent and equally fecund incubator for radical painterly invention. Still’s words would become foundational for a career based on artistic integrity and painterly ambition:
We are now committed to an unqualified act, not illustrating outworn myths or contemporary alibis.
One must accept total responsibility for what he executes. And the measure of his greatness will be
in the depth of his insight and his courage in realizing his own vision.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE PEAKS AND VALLEYS IN THE MARKET FOR WORK FROM THE SIXTIES? IT HAS BEEN MY OBSERVATION THAT IN THE LAST TEN YEARS, AS WORKS BY FIRST-GENERATION ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISTS SUCH AS DE KOONING, JACKSON POLLOCK, MARK ROTHKO AND CLYFFORD STILL COMMAND INCREASINGLY IMPRESSIVE RECORD PRICES AT AUCTION AND IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR, THAT A MUCH MORE SUBSTANTIAL MARKET HAS BEEN CREATED FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OF ARTISTS SUCH AS NORMAN BLUHM AND JOAN MITCHELL. DO YOU FEEL IT IS A REFLECTION OF THE MARKET OR ARE THERE OTHER REASONS THAT THIS GENERATION OF ARTISTS HAS GAINED IN CRITICAL AND COMMERCIAL RECOGNITION?
I often use the term “blue chip” in relation to the artists we deal with. I am constantly amazed at how much of the art world is propelled by chasing the new. I am fairly certain that 5, 10 and 15 years from now classic artists of the 1950s and 1960s will only gain in importance. I believe that there are moments in history in which invention and creativity are, for a number of reasons, particularly rich. For American art, the postwar period was a moment akin to the Italian Rennasance.
IN OUR NEXT BLOG, LORETTA WILL DETAIL SOME OF THE EXCEPTIONAL THEMATIC EXHIBITIONS THAT SHE HAS CURATED AT THE GALLERY THAT DEEPEN OUR UNDERSTANDING NOT ONLY OF THE ART OF THE PERIOD BUT ALSO THE ENVIRONMENT FROM WHICH IS SPRINGS.
WE WELCOME ANY AND ALL COMMENTS, QUESTIONS AND PARTICIPATION. FIRE AWAY!
AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT.