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As Marlborough Gallery Consolidates Operation, Veteran Dealer Jay Gorney Comes Aboard

Jay Gorney

Jay Gorney.

A little more than a month after Marlborough Gallery revealed plans to bring its various spaces and brands in Manhattan and London together as one unified operation, the New York dealer Jay Gorney is joining the enterprise as a senior director.

“Marlborough is a gallery with a long and rich history, and it’s shown an extraordinary roster of artists over the years,” Gorney said in an interview. “This is a pivotal time for the gallery, and presents an exciting moment for me. I’m looking forward to exercising creative energy and helping usher the gallery into an interesting new chapter.”

Marlborough’s roster includes pioneering figures like Red Grooms, Beverly Pepper, and Paula Rego, and earlier-career artists like Andrew Kuo, Keith Mayerson, and Davina Semo, plus the estates of giants like R.B. Kitaj, Magdalena Abakanowicz, and Jacques Lipchitz. In June, it said it would close its longstanding 57th Street space in Midtown Manhattan and expand its current Chelsea home. It also has a gallery in London. Previously, those branches had fairly independent artist lineups and slightly different names (Marlborough Fine Art, Marlborough Contemporary, etc.).

“This is a moment when people are examining multiple art histories,” Gorney said. “In addition to some of the artists I’ve admired over the years, I’m looking forward to working with younger artists and self-taught artists. This is a moment to look at different kinds of work that represent multiple points of view.”

Gorney started an eponymous gallery, Jay Gorney Modern Art, in the East Village in 1985, representing artists like Martha Rosler, Haim Steinbach, Jessica Stockholder, Catherine Opie, and Sarah Charlesworth, and moved it to nearby SoHo two years later. In 2005, he became director of contemporary art at Mitchell-Innes & Nash in New York, a position he held until 2013. He’s also worked as an adviser and independent curator, and since 2017, he’s been at Paula Cooper Gallery in Chelsea.

“We’ve known each other for a really, really long time,” Max Levai, Marlborough’s president, said by phone, of Gorney. “He’s such an approachable and great guy. I had a lot of admiration for what he did at Mitchell-Innes and Nash, and we’ve always seen eye-to-eye in our interests and aesthetic.”

Levai spoke of the recent transitions at the gallery as part of an effort to “usher Marlborough into its third generation.” The business was founded in 1946 by Harry Fischer and Frank Lloyd, who was Levai’s great uncle. Floyd’s nephew, Pierre Levai, who is Max’s father, began running its New York outpost in the 1970s. As part of the current changes, longtime director Pascal Spengemann is becoming a vice president and Levai père is becoming chairman of the business.

“My father has been a pivotal part in making this all work,” Levai fils said. “He has the encyclopedic knowledge, the history, and the client base. We’re going to be able to free up his headspace so he can make the most of all the relationships that he brought to the gallery.”

Marlborough’s 57th Street location will close in mid-January of 2020, but before then there are shows on tap of work by Kenneth Snelson, Tom Otterness, and Lipschitz. Its enlarged Chelsea location will open in September with an outing by painter Joe Zucker, his first with the gallery.

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