Impresario is an evolving interdisciplinary research project exploring the intersection of life-writing studies (in some circles, biography studies) and art history.
Specifically, I am currently exploring modernism, American art and the hitherto little-documented history of women art dealers promoting contemporary art in the USA in the period 1900–1950.
This website is one output of my research on this topic (other outputs will include a thesis, lectures, and interviews), and as such exists to be a bridge between myself and anybody interested in the above fields. Related topics include exhibition history, modernism, new york art market, history of collecting, history of dealing, biography studies, museology, art historiography, and history of publishing and the material and visual cultures.
A–Z is a list of women dealers operating in the US in the 20th century (with a focus on the period 1900–1950)
Contact me with the names of dealers you think should be added to this database or ask me questions about those listed in bold.
JOURNAL is Impresario's magazine or blog. I will post book club selections, interviews, profiles, and more. I do not aim to provide book “reviews” in any common sense of the word. Instead, they are reflections on where these books interact with my research, reading, and the “fields” I operate in.
Contact me if you would like me to consider reviewing your book, or if you have any engaging ideas for this section as a Guest Editor.
RESOURCES offers links to online resources on the subjects of the history of collecting, American art, art dealing, and art history. This section will also include a reading list.
Contact me if you have any resources that would be helpful for fellow researchers and those interested in these topics.
I am a researcher at the National College of Art and Design (Dublin, Ireland; NCAD Scholarship) and a Fulbright–Creative Ireland Fellow at the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution in 2022. I have first-class honors Masters by Research in the Art Market and the History of Collecting (University of Buckingham, National Gallery, London; Tavolozza Foundation Scholarship), and a BA International in English and Philosophy (National University of Ireland, Galway). I have lectured at Camberwell College of Art, London and I am the author of Agnes Martin: Pioneer, Painter, Icon (Schaffner Press), and contributor to Great Women Artists (Phaidon). Previous projects of mine include 100Days100Women, where I interviewed contemporary artists including Adrian Piper, Wangechi Mutu, and Liliane Lijn. I have also written numerous poems, essays, and plays (see Website above).
My interest in women gallery dealers began in 2004 when I fortunate to take a class in 20th-century American art at Boston College and study paintings at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. At that time, I was drawn to the large, emotional, and sensual paintings of the abstract expressionist artists such as Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock. Consequently, I encountered the names Betty Parsons and Peggy Guggenheim, patrons of and dealers for these artists.
I encountered Parsons again during the research for my biography on the painter Agnes Martin (I even had the opportunity to interview her biographer, Lee Hall: see the Journal), by which time I had worked in art book publishing for a number of years and learned a lot about what kind of books I wanted to write, the audience I wanted to reach, and the topics and themes missing from the publishing and academic art history canon; the subject of women art dealers being one of the latter.
Between 2017–2019 I undertook a Masters by Research in the Art Market and the History of Collecting and had an opportunity to explore this topic in more detail, choosing to focus on Beatrice Judd Ryan, one of the first known, but practically ignored, women dealers working in the USA (see the Journal for a profile). The reasons why—and how—women (in particular those operating "behind the scenes") have been marginalized or erased from the history of American art are many; though not necessarily complex. These will emerge in the Journal section of this site. The site will also explore ways of reinstating these women into the narrative of 20th Century American art.