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Virginia Zabriskie in her gallery in the late 1960s or early ’70s, on Madison Avenue. Photo: Zabriskie Gallery.

Virginia Zabriskie (1927–2019)

Dealer Virginia Zabriskie, the founder of modern and contemporary art galleries in Paris and Manhattan that became known for promoting the work of underrecognized artists, died on May 7 at her home in New York, the New York Times reports. She was ninety-one years old.

Throughout her career, Zabriskie helped advance the field of photography—she gave American photographers, including Alfred Stieglitz, Berenice Abbott, Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, Walker Evans, and Lee Friedlander their first solo shows in Europe—and presented historical exhibitions such as “Surrealism 1936—Objects, Photographs, Collages and Documents” (1986) and “Conspiratorial Laughter—a Friendship: Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp” (1995).

Born on July 15, 1927, on New York’s Upper West Side, Zabriskie studied art history at New York University; pursued graduate studies at the school’s Institute of Fine Arts; and became a mentee to Walter Pach, an organizer of the controversial 1913 Armory Show, which brought European modernism to New York. Through him, she met artists Edward Hopper, John Sloan, and Marcel Duchamp—on whom she wrote her senior thesis.

Zabriskie suffered from dystonia, a neurological disease that affected her hand mobility and speech for most of her life, but the illness did not hinder her success. In 1954, she became one of the city’s youngest art dealers when she bought the Korman Gallery on Madison Avenue for $1 from Marvin Korman, a friend from graduate school. There she exhibited work by artists such as Pat Adams, Miyoko Ito, Lester Johnson, Mary Frank, Robert De Niro Sr., George Ault, Elie Nadelman, and Abraham Walkowitz.

In the late 1960s, she began to add modern and contemporary photography into the gallery’s rotation, and in 1977, she opened a Paris location with the intent of focusing exclusively on photography. When that space shuttered in 1998, she was awarded the Medaille de la Ville de Paris (the City of Paris’s Medal of Honor). After closing her New York gallery in 2010, Zabriskie became a private art dealer and received top awards from the Art Dealers Association of America and the Archives of American Art.

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