Friday, September 30, 2016

"THE EYE OF THE SIXTIES: Richard Bellamy and the Transformation of Modern Art" by Judith E. Stein


"Eye of the Sixties: Richard Bellamy and the Transformation of Modern Art" by Judith E. Stein (FSG)

Superb biography on a New York City art dealer and visionary Richard Bellamy. There are people I should know about, and for some odd reason, and compared to the other huge dealers at the time, I never heard of Bellamy. Which is to be frank, quite idiotic of me. He brought the world, or to be more specific Manhattan, the world of Claes Oldenburg, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, James Rosenquist and many others. The beauty of Bellamy is that he was mostly fascinated with art and the artists - and could care less about the financial aspect of that world, or what it could bring to someone's pocket or piggy bank. His devotion (as a dealer) and friendship with Mark di Suvreo as well as Alfred Leslie is a classic relationship between dealer and artist. It seems he had an eye on the bigger picture, and author Judith E. Stein captures that essence of Bellamy. Throughout the narrative we get Warhol, Yoko Ono, Yayoi Kusama, Jasper Johns, and others. If Bellamy didn't take on these artists for his "Green" gallery, he worked hard on their behalf to find them representation.

And of course, the other reason why I like this book is the character of Bellamy. Usually drunk, often depressed, hysterical, insane dresser, and quite eccentric behavior. His relationship with Robert (and kind of Ethel) Scull, the major collectors of art in Manhattan, is equally fascinating. Robert was the secret backer to Bellamy's Green gallery, and it's interesting in the up's and down's of that gallery and Bellamy's mental state - they remained friends. It seems Bellamy didn't base his personal relationships on money alone - and this is what gives his character a great heart. Also, he was a very handsome man, who in photos reminds me of Jarvis Cocker a bit. Tall, nice hair, half-Chinese, and great taste in glass frames - he must have been a striking figure when he walked in a room. This was such an enjoyable read. It's nice to spend time with a fascinating character in a very active era of the visual arts in New York City.

Richard Bellamy & Robert Scull

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