Barbara Gladstone, art world luminary, dies at 89

Barbara Gladstone, a distinguished art dealer who founded one of New York’s premier galleries, passed away on Sunday in Paris at 89 following a brief illness, per Gladstone Gallery confirmed her death in an email to the press on Monday.

Gladstone’s eponymous gallery, with locations in New York, Brussels, Seoul and Rome, boasts a stellar roster of artists, including Matthew Barney, Alex Katz, Joan Jonas, Wangechi Mutu, Keith Haring, Robert Rauschenberg, Carrie Mae Weems and Arthur Jafa.

Opening her gallery in New York in 1980, Gladstone quickly became a notable figure in the art world. Despite market trends favouring expansive growth, she maintained a modest approach. In 2020, she merged with dealer Gavin Brown, but downplayed the significance of the move, going for a commitment to localised, artist-focused operations over a global presence.

Twice divorced and a mother of three, Gladstone transitioned from art history professor at Hofstra University to art dealer by initially selling prints. Her passion for discovering and nurturing underrepresented artists shaped her gallery’s ethos.

Her gallery’s first space, a $700-a-month shoebox on 57th Street, soon gave way to a larger SoHo venue. It was here that Matthew Barney’s 1991 groundbreaking performance solidified her reputation for showcasing avant-garde art.

In 1996, Gladstone, along with Matthew Marks and Metro Pictures, purchased a 29,000-square-foot space in Chelsea, anticipating the neighbourhood’s rise as an art hub. By 2002, she had fully transitioned her gallery to Chelsea, bringing on Curt Marcus to bolster operations.

Gladstone’s influence is reflected in the success of artists like Jenny Holzer and Richard Prince, who had early shows with her before achieving major acclaim.

Recent years saw some controversy, with a 2022 lawsuit alleging workplace discrimination, which the gallery contested. Gladstone had begun delegating responsibilities to senior staff, including Max Falkenstein and partners Gavin Brown, Caroline Luce and Paula Tsai.

Gladstone is survived by her sons David and Richard Regen. Her third son, Stuart Regen, passed away in 1998. Reflecting on the gallery’s future, she expressed confidence in its continued success under the current leadership.

“Barbara valued her relationships with artists above all else and remained their advocate up until the end,” her partners said in a statement, highlighting her dedication to fostering enduring artistic legacies.


  • Featured image: Barbara Gladstone/Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images


Subscribe to our Newsletter
Stay up-to-date