Friday, August 06, 2010

A Few Thoughts about Mr. Connelly

Lindsay Pollock reported yesterday that after nearly 10 years of promoting some of today's most exciting and cutting-edge artists, John Connelly is closing his eponymous gallery. Not only is John a neighbor and someone I personally admire a great deal, he has always represented to me the very best of what a young art dealer could achieve in this increasingly complex art scene and globalizing market. (It's not as simple a landscape out there as it was even just one generation ago.)

I've written about John's program on occasion (which is more than I have for most other galleries), but I have always marveled at his feel for what the most interesting artists of our day are thinking. John has taken more risks in his programming than just about any other dealer I know to make that complex thinking more accessible. His exhibitions have always looks fantastic, while still being intellectually adventurous and curatorially exhilarating.

When it comes to having one's finger on the pulse, John is the real deal.

I don't really expect everyone to understand the sentiments that follow. I know there are those for whom the closing of a gallery is cause to snicker or simply add another notch on their tally board. Of course, the impact on the careers of any closing gallery's artists is of significant concern, and,while in the court of public opinion that often rightfully overshadows any thought toward what the gallerist is personally losing, for most of the people who have worked to build a gallery, such events represent so much more than just the end of a business. Once the hard decisions are final, it may play out as such, but making those decisions is (I can imagine) nothing short of agonizing. A gallery is more than a business to me. It's someone putting their money where their mouth is (not to mention tons of hard work) to say "Hey, you! Look here! These artists are important!!" In that sense a gallery is a gift to the public and often a bloody damn generous one.

Yes, I know, I'm guilty of romanticizing this, even as I urge artists to be tough and thick skinned about their own careers (I only do so because I care), but that's partly because I'm spending my summer leisurely devouring the biography of Leo Castelli, and I'm almost at the end and, well, I so do love when a gallery is able to make an impact on art history, to help make the world take notice, to help usher in a new understanding about what important artists are making, and so I find it rather heartbreaking when that all comes to an end.

John is actually moving on to a really good gig, so I'm not feeling sorry for him, per se. I'm actually feeling sorry for myself. I'm going to miss feeling the way I have each time I've visited his space...having my eyes opened a bit more, my positions challenged a bit more. John has worked with some truly spectacular artists, but more than that, he created a context in which I truly trusted that if I just gave it a chance I would learn something I didn't know before. There's no higher compliment I personally can pay a gallerist than that.

As Lindsay reports, John Connelly Presents is closing with a reception tonight, 6-8 pm.

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sad news indeed. I'll miss his vision.

Laura

8/06/2010 09:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Gam said...

To state that one may trust a gallery's "agenda-offerings-program" is a complement in deed.
Bravo Mr Connelly,
may the road rise up to meet you!

8/06/2010 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger annell said...

In many areas of life, we have to accept changes and as you said, he is moving on to really good things. But it is sad, although there are many galleries, there are only a few that would receive such words said about them. I am sad, even though I was never in this gallery, I think the world loses something when a gallery like this closes.

8/06/2010 11:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been very critical of the gallery system but JCP was one of the consistently good ones and (unlike many other recently closed galleries) he had a sterling reputation for treating artists and clients well.

8/06/2010 04:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very sad to here that. I'm emailing from down under and alot of the work from that gallery has had great influence on artists all over the world.

8/07/2010 02:19:00 AM  

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