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  • Jun 19, 2024

Barbara Gladstone, 1935–2024

Portrait of BARBARA GLADSTONE. Photo by Andrea Spotorno. Courtesy Gladstone Gallery’s Instagram page. 

*updated on June 20, 2024.

Veteran New York art dealer Barbara Gladstone, founder of the eponymous Gladstone Gallery, died in Paris on June 16 following a short illness. She was 89 years old.

Born in 1935, Gladstone initially showed interest in law, but ultimately taught art history at Hofstra University on Long Island. Over the years she began to independently purchase and sell prints, and in 1980, as a 46-year-old mother of three, she decided to formally pursue this side-business. She left her professorship to open her own gallery in Manhattan, in a space that she told the Wall Street Journal in 2011 was “the size of a shoebox” and had a monthly rent of USD 700. Its inaugural show, “Survival Series” by neo-conceptual artist Jenny Holzer, was a resounding success, setting the stage for Gladstone’s legacy of debuting artists before their rise to stardom. The gallery was later credited with introducing iconic American artists such as Richard Prince and Matthew Barney to the New York art scene. 

Soon after its inaugural show, Gladstone moved to a larger venue downtown, in the artsy Soho neighborhood. It moved again in 1996, collaborating with New York art spaces Matthew Marks Gallery and Metro Pictures to purchase an even bigger space in Chelsea, which at the time was still a desolate industrial neighborhood. Twelve years later, Gladstone opened a second space in Chelsea, which is now considered Manhattan’s art district, as well as expanded to Brussels. Today, Gladstone also operates in Seoul’s prestigious Gangnam district (its first venue in Asia), and has a third space in Manhattan, on the Upper East Side.

In the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, British artist and art dealer Gavin Brown closed his gallery in Harlem, leading to Gladstone absorbing a few of its roster and bringing Brown on as a partner. The gallery now represents over 70 artists and estates, including Korean-American conceptual artist Anicka Yi, Chinese painter Hao Liang, and Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija. Showcasing the works of avant-garde artist Huang Yong Ping in 2007, 2009, 2014, and 2018, Gladstone continued to prove itself as a trailblazer, bringing together large, ambitious shows and championing the artists she took on.

After her passing, Gladstone’s partners Max Falkenstein, Caroline Luce, Paula Tsai, and Brown released a statement: “Though many of us expected Barbara to live forever, she has been preparing for this day and set her leadership transition plans in motion in 2016, when Max became a co-owner of the gallery. Barbara’s four partners will continue in their roles in leading the gallery, with Max spearheading the leadership team, Gavin leading artist relations and development, Caroline overseeing the gallery’s operations and HR, and Paula continuing to lead Asia and oversight of gallery communications.” 

Barbara Gladstone is survived by two of her sons, David and Richard Regen. Her son Stuart Regen, an acclaimed film producer and fellow art dealer, died of cancer in 1998. 

Camilla Alvarez-Chow is an editorial assistant at ArtAsiaPacific. 

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