Ronald Feldman, Art Gallerist With an Eye for Politics, Dies at 84 – The New York Times

January 3, 2023 by No Comments

Ronald Feldman, who for nearly 50 years oversaw one of New York’s most consistently political, forward-looking art galleries, died on Dec. 20 at his home in Chappaqua, N.Y. He was 84.

His family said the cause was Alzheimer’s disease.

Trained as a lawyer and deeply interested in politics, Mr. Feldman, at his Ronald Feldman Gallery in SoHo, exhibited artists who pushed boundaries with work that almost always had a political slant.

The list of celebrated artists to whom he gave first or early New York exhibitions included Hannah Wilke, Joseph Beuys, Chris Burden, Eleanor Antin, Pepon Osorio, Komar and Melamid, Helen and Newton Harrison, Ilya Kabakov, Ida Applebroog, Ed Schlossberg and Arakawa.

Before it was fashionable, these artists often focused on women’s rights, the environment, totalitarianism, identity and war.

In time, they spanned several generations, from the figurative painter Leon Golub to members of younger generations like Christine Hill, Keith Cottingham, Roxy Paine and Rico Gatson. But the gallery also showed abstract painters like Bruce Pearson and Carl Fudge, whose approaches to their art were markedly irreverent. Mr. Feldman published some of the first editions of Andy Warhol’s silk-screen prints.

In a public interview in 2010 with the museum director and curator Stuart Horodner at the Atlanta Contemporary art center, Mr. Feldman said that in the beginning he had no idea that “running a gallery was a 24-hour-a-day job,” even though he had chosen to become a dealer in order to “take great risks.”

“We were bankrupt on paper many times over the years,” he said.

His goal, he told Mr. Horodner, was “to find artists that would make statements relevant to their time,” though he did not always expect them to catch on quickly with the public. Several of his artists became successful, but others did not. Still, his commitment to them rarely faltered.

“As long as you’re getting fed by artists,” he said, “you want to stay with them.”

Ira Ronald Feldman was born on April 25, 1938, in the Bronx to Irving and Judith (Solon) Feldman. His father was the president of a drug company. Ronald grew up in Long Beach, N.Y.; earned a B.A. from Syracuse University and a law degree from New York University Law School; and then served in the Air National …….

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