The remarkable career of gallerist and patron Virginia Dwan will be featured front and center for the first time in an exhibition of some 100 works, featuring highlights from Dwan's promised gift of her extraordinary personal collection to the National Gallery of Art.
Founded by Dwan in a storefront in Los Angeles in 1959, Dwan's West Coast enterprise was a leading avant-garde space in the early 1960s, presenting works by abstract expressionists, neo-dadaists, pop artists, and nouveaux réalistes, including Philip Guston, Franz Kline, Ad Reinhardt, Robert Rauschenberg, Claes Oldenburg, Edward Kienholz, Yves Klein, Joseph Kosuth, Arman, Martial Raysse, Niki di Sant Phalle, and Jean Tinguely.
In 1965, Dwan established a gallery in New York where she presented groundbreaking exhibitions of such new tendencies as minimalism, conceptual art, and land art, featuring works by Carl Andre, Walter de Maria, Dan Flavin, Michael Heizer, Robert Morris, Sol LeWitt, Agnes Martin, Charles Ross, Robert Ryman, and Robert Smithson, among others.
Dwan emerged as a leading patron of earth works during this period, sponsoring Heizer's monumental sculptures Double Negative (1969) and City (begun 1972); Smithson's masterpiece Spiral Jetty (1970); the first version of Walter de Maria's Lightning Field (1974); and Ross's Star Axis (begun 1971).
The exhibition will trace Dwan's activities and the emergence of an avant-garde gallery in an age of mobility, when air travel and the interstate highway system linked the two coasts and transformed the making of art and the sites of its exhibition.