Topics in American Art since 1945

By Lawrence Alloway | Go to book overview
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THE
REUBEN GALLERY

A Chronology

The Reuben Gallery (at both its addresses, 61 4th Avenue and 44 East 3rd Street) was one of a number of downtown galleries, important in New York in the 50s, for showing new, experimental, or unfashionable work. This is not the place for a history of them, but reference to a few helps define the position of the Reuben Gallery. Allan Kaprow and George Segal came from the Hansa Gallery (the word compounded from Hans Hofmann's Christian name and the Hanseatic League), a cooperative gallery that ran from 1952 until the close of the 1958-59 season. Red Grooms used successive studios as a gallery: first the City Gallery (1958-59 season), then the Delancey Street Museum (1959-60 season), which coincided with the Reuben's first season. The Judson Gallery, including Dine and Oldenburg, paralleled the opening of the Reuben Gallery, and then, subsequently, joined it. There was, as these examples show, an easy contact between artist and gallery, an affinity between the act of production and the act of presentation, which was very different from the regular marketing or promotional activities of art dealers.

Pop art, used as a comprehensive term, includes most of the Reuben Gallery artists. However, their early work and personal developments are entirely different from other artists called Pop, such as Andy Warhol or Roy Lichtenstein. There was, for instance, a strong expressionistic undercurrent to much of the work shown there. They are different again, despite a connection with John Cage in Kaprow's case, from Jasper Johns or from Robert Rauschenberg. To the extent that there is a Reuben Gallery style, it existed momentarily and was unevenly manifested in different artists. However, there was a shared quality which is

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SOURCE: From Eleven from the Rueben Gallery (New York, 1965), unpaginated, the catalogue of the exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

-151-

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