We are thrilled to announce that over the next three months cfile.library will transform all of the Garth Clark Gallery catalogs into eBooks. Between the years of 1998- 2000, the gallery released catalogs for their shows with artists Anne Kraus, Anthony Caro, Ralph Bacerra, Ruth Duckworth, Cindy Kolodziejski, Akio Takamori, and Kurt Weiser. Starting today, these catalogs are available in cfile.library.
Garth Clark Gallery, co-founded and co-operated by Garth Clark and Mark Del Vecchio, was the most respected resource internationally for modern and contemporary ceramic art, serving a worldwide audience of museums and collectors. The gallery commenced on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angles in 1981 with Beatrice Wood: A Very Private View, their inaugural exhibition that benefitted from unexpectedly high sales. At their galleries in NYC, LA, Kansas City and briefly London, Clark and Del Vecchio were responsible for more than 500 exhibitions— solo, group, theme and historical— over a period of 27 years.
Mark Del Vecchio said of the gallery:
“We had no master plan, at first it seemed that we should just handle the blue-chip figures in the field but there was no challenge in that. So instead of the modernists we took on the postmodernists who were more of our own generation, largely unknown, and set about giving them a higher profile. Later we became more of a mix of new and established, but the interest in the edge remains a part of our enjoyment of the field, even though it does not find its way to the exhibition floor as often as it did in the past.” (from Saatchi Gallery)
The space on West 57th Street in Manhattan, which opened in 1983, is recognized for ushering contemporary ceramic art into the fine art world. The duo held their space to the same standards as other art galleries in New York, except they showed artists that would have previously been left floating in limbo between art and craft. Clark and Del Vecchio dismissed the prejudice against clay that pervaded the New York art scene at the time. This loud and clear disposition made an impact on the city and the world, forever changing the scholarship attached to ceramic arts.
CFile: What do you feel was achieved in the 30 years of Garth Clark Gallery?
Garth Clark: For three decades we ran galleries where ceramists were shown the same professionalism and sophistication as if we were showing Jasper Johns and Willem De Kooning. We were fully international, though we were criticized by Americans for doing this and not supporting “local” products. We were not “anti-craft,” but at the same time we did not want to come across as a craft gallery, which was usually a faux-gallery cum gift shop. So, though we had very little money, we chose a space in the most exclusive art gallery district (then) 57th street, rather than going to the much cheaper venues. Yes, we were a small dog but we sat on the same porch as the big ones, Pace Gallery, Marian Goodman Gallery, and Blum-Helman. We were the first (and only gallery of our type) to be admitted to the most elite club for galleries, the Art Dealers Association of America and to be a part of their art fair on Park Avenue, The Art Show.
CFile: What was your favorite exhibition at the gallery? Or who was your favorite artist to show? Or what do you feel was the most important exhibition at GCG?
GC: I am not going to answer this question directly as I do not have a death wish. We worked with so many great artists who are still great friends. There were high points and low points, not just one of each. In this volume, each of the artists gave us superb shows. Four have passed: Anne, Tony (Caro), Ruth and Ralph. We still mourn all four.
CFile: But will you stick your neck out just a little?
GC: Anne Kraus was always very special to us. We resented selling her work except to a few collectors who understood her and were “deserving.” This isn’t to say that the other artists’ work was lesser, but rather that Anne was so fragile in some ways. Her work came out of dream diaries (which Mark and I now own), and they were her way of speaking from her heart. In social situations she was very withdrawn. As an artist she could be very difficult, but we felt real and mutual love for each other. She died at age 47 from cancer.
GC.: Yes, Akio’s catalog has a story behind it. He went to the Ceramic Work Center in Holland and made his first body of figurative work after decades of making his envelope pots. As a gallery, we were very pot-centric, even though we showed a few others like Ruth Duckworth who also made sculpture. The reason was that pots were the most difficult to get the fine arts to take seriously and so we were pushing the point. I had to beg Akio to send me images of his Dutch work and he reluctantly sent them to me. The catalog documents his first figurative show in the US. We were thrilled and the exhibition sold out.
CFile: Why do the catalogs begin in 1998 and not sooner?
G.C. We could not afford them. Actually we could barely afford them when began publishing, but we realized it was an essential requirement for the artist and our stature. Everyone believed that a gallery in New York was a gold mine. It was… for our landlord. We struggled mightily to stay alive. Poor Mark handled the money and took the full brunt of this enormous strain. You could say he knew Peter and Paul very well. One year we would make a little money. The next year we would lose it. It was up and down, but we knew we had to at least look as affluent as the city’s top dealers, and we managed to master the illusion of living a caviar life on a black bean budget.
Don’t wait any longer to become a member of our massive and growing cfile.library! Get your hands on these important relics of contemporary ceramic art today!
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