This summer, Daily Serving is shining a light on some arts publications that we regularly read and love. Wrapping up our week with Momus, today we bring you the final selection from Senior Editor Casey Beal: “LA contributing editor Catherine G. Wagley delivers a careful reflection on the factors that cause a legacy to be selectively appropriated. Through a compelling reexamination of LA gallerist Virginia Dwan’s history and influence, read against an ongoing retrospective at LACMA, the essay underscores the integrity inherent in her present reluctance to be cast as a central character in ‘Important Art.’” This article was originally published on May 5, 2017.
Larry Rivers. Maquette for Larry Rivers Exhibition at Dwan Gallery, 1961. Collection of Virginia Dwan, © Estate of Larry Rivers. Photo: Tricia Zigmund.
“Any ideas of art history or significance were forgotten,” wrote gallerist Virginia Dwan in 1990, remembering the first time she saw one of Yves Klein’s all-blue reliefs through the window of Galerie Rive Droite in Paris. Within a year, Klein would be living in Dwan’s Malibu beach house, making work to show in her Los Angeles gallery.
On March 14, 2017, five days before the opening of Los Angeles to New York: Dwan Gallery, 1959–1971 at Los Angeles County Museum (LACMA), Dwan spoke about the excitement Klein brought her. He “has gotten a rather bad reputation of just taking nudes and scrubbing them around on canvas,” she said, but that interested her less than his wilder conceptual imaginings. “He wanted to build architecture from jets of air coming out of the ground … He was involved with the whole universe, actually,” the 85-year-old continued, “and very important to my thinking finally.” Her affinity for Klein’s ambitions is telling: Dwan cared far more about fostering adventurous urges, and engaging them, than her position in Important Art.