Tribute of New York Times to Alexander Iolas
Alexander Iolas is a gallerist who changed art forever according to NewYork Times.
He can be credited with mounting Andy Warhol’s first and last gallery show in his lifetime, bringing Surrealism to the United States and introducing the East Coast to Ed Ruscha. Unlike Iolas’s contemporaries — who included Ileana Sonnabend, Leo Castelli and Bruno Bischofberger — Iolas’s legacy has nearly faded into obscurity after he succumbed to AIDS in 1987 at 80, but a new exhibition may change that.
Today, Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York will open “Alexander the Great: The Iolas Gallery 1955-1987.” Running through April 26, the show will display some 40 works by artists Iolas worked with during his lifetime, along with catalogs and ephemera. Its co-organizer, Adrian Dannatt, and Kasmin were discussing artists who lived in Paris in the 1950s and realized that Iolas was the missing link. Kasmin asked Vincent Fremont — who knew Iolas while he worked at Warhol’s Factory — to help organize the survey, which includes a Warhol portrait of the dealer, along with a 1986 “Last Supper” collage, a 1966 Magritte painting starring his iconic bowler hat and a 1948 Man Ray self-portrait.
Born in Alexandria, Egypt, to a wealthy Greek couple involved in the cotton trade, Iolas discovered his future fate as a teenager while passing the Four Paths gallery in Paris. “He saw a de Chirico painting,” Dannatt says. “He said it transformed his life.” After a stint as a dancer, touring in Europe and the United States, Iolas went on to become an art dealer. He was the director of New York’s influential Hugo Gallery before opening his own space in 1955, and worked with some of the most influential collectors of that time, such as John and Dominique de Menil. Iolas followed his own instinct instead of the trends around him, working with artists who would become the biggest names in 20th-century art history: René Magritte, Joseph Cornell, Max Ernst, Yves Klein, Les Lalanne, William N. Copley, Dorothea Tanning and more. “Iolas had a long-term relationship with most of his artists — as a friend, as a dealer — and he got involved in their lives,” Fremont says. “He certainly was opinionated, so he would influence the way they were going to work.”
Iolas’s persona was as eccentric as the art he championed, and he was an unforgettable presence on New York’s social scene, always, as Fremont describes, “in furs and a cape,” wearing wild ensembles out on the town. The dealer made up for his small stature — “He had little Cuban heels,” Fremont recalls — with a big personality. Dannatt says that Iolas would always put his raincoat on backward and take different routes to his gallery, blowing raspberries when he crossed paths with others “because he wanted to shock people.”
Fremont and Dannatt hope that the exhibition will bring Iolas back to the forefront of the art world. “He’s just a historical person from the 20th century,” Fremont says, “that people need to know about.”
“Alexander the Great: The Iolas Gallery 1955-1987″ runs at Paul Kasmin Gallery through April 26.
Source: New York Times