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Dada Expert Francis Naumann Will Close Gallery, Citing Financial Pressures, Market Changes

Installation view of 'Suzanne Duchamp: Works on Paper', 2015, at Francis Naumann Fine Art.

Installation view of “Suzanne Duchamp: Works on Paper,” 2015, at Francis Naumann Fine Art, New York.

COURTESY FRANCIS NAUMANN FINE ART

Francis Naumann Fine Art, in operation in New York since 2001 and known for shows with a Dadaist bent, will close its space in the 57th Street gallery district in March 2020.

“My reason for closing is primarily financial,” Naumann, one of the foremost experts on Marcel Duchamp in America, told ARTnews in an email. “Over the years, I’ve learned there are fewer and fewer collectors of 20th century art, most preferring to buy cutting-edge contemporary art (and at far higher prices). Moreover, people are attracted by big-name artists (Picasso, Warhol, Basquiat, etc.), or they buy the work of minor artists from big-name galleries (Gagosian, Hauser & Wirth, David Zwirner, etc.).”

He continued, with a nod to more personal reasons, “Besides, I’m now getting too old to put in the effort required to organize exhibitions and participate in art fairs. It’s time.”

Naumann, who wrote what some consider to be the definitive book about the Dada movement in New York during the early part of the 20th century (New York Dada 1915-25, published in 1994), has staged solo shows for well-known Dadaists including Duchamp and Man Ray as well as contemporary artists inspired by the movement, such as Mike Bidlo and Ai Weiwei. His current show focuses on a group of artists who were in poet Walter Arensberg’s orbit.

The dealer’s reasons for closing have been echoed by many in recent years who have cited issues owing to declining foot traffic, the rising cost of art fairs, and increasing competition. Among the most high-profile New York galleries to scale down in size in recent years is Cheim & Read, which closed its Chelsea space and now operates privately in the Upper East Side.

Though Naumann is closing his space on 57th Street, he will continue operating privately out of an apartment he shares with his wife on the Upper East Side—a home he has named with an appropriately Duchampian air: “Since my wife’s name is Terry, we’re calling it our pied-à-Terry.”

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