Virginia Dwan (1931) is an American art collector, art patron, philanthropist and filmmaker. She is the former owner and executive director of Dwan Gallery Los Angeles (1959-67) and Dwan Gallery New York (1965-71), a contemporary art gallery closely identified with Minimalism, Conceptual art, and Earthworks.
Founded by Virginia Dwan in a storefront in the Westwood neighborhood in Los Angeles in 1959, the Dwan Gallery moved to a larger space nearby in 1962. Along with Walter Hopps' and Irving Blum's Ferus Gallery, the Dwan Gallery was a leading avant-garde space in Los Angeles during this period, presenting exhibitions by Franz Kline, Philip Guston, Ad Reinhardt, Joan Mitchell, Niki di Saint Phalle, Yves Klein, Robert Rauschenberg, Larry Rivers, Ed Keinholz, and Claes Oldenburg, among others.
A keen follower of contemporary French art, Dwan gave many of the nouveau réalistes their first shows in Los Angeles, including Arman, Jean Tinguely, Martial Raysse, Niki di Saint Phalle, and Yves Klein. Her group show, My Country 'Tis of Thee (1962), was among the earliest exhibitions of pop art.
Dwan moved to New York in 1965 and established a second space on West 57th Street in 1966. While the Los Angeles gallery featured abstract expressionism, neo-Dada and nouveau réalisme, Dwan New York became associated with other emerging tendencies. 10 (1966, 1967) was a pivotal presentation of minimalism. A series of Language shows (1967, 1968, 1969, 1970) heralded conceptual art, while the exhibition Earth Works ushered in land art.
Andre, LeWitt, Morris, Flavin, Smithson, Sandback, De Maria, Heizer, Robert Ryman, Arakawa, Charles Ross, David Novros, Kenneth Snelson, and other artists had one-person shows at Dwan. Some exhibited in both the New York and Los Angeles galleries before the latter closed in 1967. (Source)
- "Reflections on Robert Smithson", Art Journal 42:3 (1982), p 233.
- Lauren O'Neill-Butler, Interview with Dwan, cont., Artforum, 11 & 14 Feb 2014.
- Michael Kimmelman, "Art/Architecture; The Forgotten Godmother Of Dia's Artists", New York Times, 11 May 2003.
- Jessica Dawson, "Whatever Happened to Virginia Dwan?", X-tra 14:2 (Winter 2011).
- "National Gallery of Art Announces Virginia Dwan Collection Promised Bequest and Exhibition for Reopening of East Building, Los Angeles to New York: Dwan Gallery, 1959-1971", nga.gov, 27 Sep 2013. Press release.
- Dwan Gallery records, 1959-c1982, Archives of American Art, digitized in 2014 (2,653 images).
- From Los Angeles to New York: The Dwan Gallery 1959–1971, exhibition, NGA, Sep 2016-Jan 2017.
- Dwan Gallery entry by Getty
- Dwan on Wikipedia