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Paul Kasmin. Photo: Cari Vuong.
Paul Kasmin. Photo: Cari Vuong.

Paul Kasmin (1960–2020)

Paul Kasmin, the august New York City art dealer who helped turn Chelsea into the city’s central art hub, died on Monday at age sixty following a long period of illness, his eponymous gallery announced. Founded in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood in 1989, the gallery is distinguished by its elegant mix of emerging and established artists in its programming. Kasmin, a mild-mannered sophisticate and photography aficionado, was ebullient in his praise; those he championed included Tina Barney, Walton Ford, Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne, Iván Navarro, Jamie Nares, Mark Ryden, and Bosco Sodi. The gallery also represents pivotal artists Max Ernst, Robert Indiana, and Lee Krasner, among others.

Born in London in 1960, Kasmin’s passion for art was sparked by one of his biggest influences, his father John Kasmin, a leading London dealer and collector who “discovered” David Hockney in the 1960s and helped launch his career. Like Hockney, Kasmin was drawn to America, in his case New York, where he would become a staple of the arts scene after he visited the city with John Kasmin at ten years old. Like his father, Paul Kasmin also bolstered under-recognized artists.

After he opened his first space—which moved to Chelsea in 2000—Kasmin would go on to open three more galleries. The fourth—a bold, square, concrete structure with a five-thousand-square-foot rooftop sculpture garden that serves as an extension of the High Line—was designed by Markus Dochantschi of StudioMDA and opened at 509 West Twenty-Seventh Street in 2018 with a new body of large-scale watercolors by Ford. The building allowed Kasmin to expand his gallery’s program, lengthen shows from the typical six-week run to three months, and realize more ambitious exhibitions. Kasmin managing director Nick Olney will continue to lead the gallery’s programming.

“Paul devoted himself to a life celebrating art and artists,” his gallery said in a statement. “Those of us who have worked with Paul learned from his extraordinary eye for talent, his delight in the work of the artists he loved, and his rare sense of openness and generosity.”