After three decades with Pace Gallery, Robert Ryman’s estate has new representation at David Zwirner. Ryman’s widow, artist Merrill Wagner, will also leave Pace for Zwirner.
Ryman is most famous for his monochromatic paintings, which at first glance appear to be all white but upon closer inspection are embedded with dabs of numerous other pigments. Ryman had his first exhibition with Pace in 1990, and his last solo exhibition at the gallery was a 2018 outing of the artist’s drawings.
In a statement, David Zwirner said, “Ryman, to me, is a singular artist, among the most important of his generation. I am looking forward to presenting his work in the context of our program. His work is in deep dialogue with many of the gallery’s artists, from Josef Albers and Giorgio Morandi to his peers Donald Judd, On Kawara, Fred Sandback, and Richard Serra.”
It has historically been rare for artists to jump from the roster of one mega-gallery to another, though that might be changing. In 2019, the John Chamberlain estate left Gagosian for Hauser & Wirth, and the Robert Rauschenberg estate decamped from Gagosian to Pace in 2015. Last month, artist Jeff Koons said he would no longer be jointly represented by David Zwirner and Gagosian galleries, and departed for Pace.
Wagner has been working since the 1960s. She initially created hard-edge abstract paintings on canvas. Then, in the mid-’70s, she began to move away from canvas, opting to create similarly abstract work in various materials such as slate, steel, and stone. Often her art references the natural landscape, in particular the Pacific Northwest, where she grew up. Wagner joined Pace in July 2020, and has not mounted a solo show with the gallery.
In his statement, Zwirner said, “The work of Merrill Wagner equally situates itself within our program, in its nuanced attention to color, materials, to site and temporality, and I am especially honored to be working with her.”
As part of the announcement, Zwirner said that it had also hired Susan Dunne in the role of senior director. She will begin in that role in September.
Dunne was most recently a president at Pace, where she had worked closely with Ryman from 1990 until his death in 2019. Dunne is a past vice president of Art Dealers Association of America. She resigned from Pace in March after the gallery conducted an investigation into allegations that she had created a “toxic” work environment. (After her departure, Pace restructured its senior leadership.)
“Susan has been an outstanding gallerist and art dealer for over three decades, and I am very much looking forward to her joining the gallery in the fall,” Zwirner said.