Daniel Weinberg, a dealer who ran an influential gallery with spaces in Los Angeles and San Francisco, has died at 88. His children, Jonathan, Nick, and Kate Weinberg, said that he had died on February 25 of natural causes.
Long before many other dealers opened galleries in California, Weinberg made a point of offering rising talents some of their earliest exposure on the West Coast during the 1970s and ’80s. Among those to have their first West Coast gallery show through him were Jeff Koons, Robert Gober, Peter Cain, Christopher Wool, Charles Gaines, Dorothea Rockburne, and Mary Heilmann.
His business, Daniel Weinberg Gallery, opened in San Francisco in 1973 and relocated to Los Angeles in 1983. When he inaugurated his L.A. space, there had been already been a history of trendsetting galleries there that included Ferus and Gagosian, but the city’s art-market ecosystem was nowhere near as established as it is today. In becoming one of the first to bring a steady stream of blue-chip offerings there, Weinberg helped cement the reputation that the L.A. art scene now holds.
But Weinberg did not open his gallery until midway through his career, and before becoming a dealer, he was in the fashion industry. Born in 1933 in Chicago, Weinberg went on to attend to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. He ultimately became a designer for Levi Strauss & Co., where he had formerly served as a sales trainee.
Early on, Weinberg met Klaus Kertess, a New York dealer whose Bykert Gallery has been credited with helping to coalesce Minimalism, Post-Minimalism, and Process art as movements. Coming into contact with Kertess helped bring Weinberg into the orbit of a number of Minimalists and Post-Minimalists who he would later show at his own gallery.
When Daniel Weinberg Gallery opened, it kicked off with a star-studded run that included shows for David Navros, Rockburne, Richard Tuttle, Robert Mangold, and Jo Baer. Shows for Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Richard Artschwager, Joe Zucker, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Carl Andre, Barry Le Va, and Bruce Nauman followed in the decade to come. At the time, many of these artists were considered to be some of the giants of the New York scene, but they had yet to receive similar exposure in California. Weinberg helped to change that.
Over the years, Weinberg’s gallery shuttled between San Francisco and Los Angeles, with a stop in Santa Monica for some time. Its last show opened in 2012.
Though the Daniel Weinberg Gallery holds a storied place within West Coast art history, its founder has not quite occupied the same status as Larry Gagosian and others who transformed the scene. In a 2013 essay, dealer Charlie Kitchings, of the now-defunct Ambach & Rice gallery, which once held a space in Los Angeles, expressed shock when he learned of just how important Weinberg was to the city’s art market.
“The Daniel Weinberg Gallery was not just a gallery in Los Angeles or San Francisco; it was a pivotal space in an art network in cities around the world that provided a prominent stage for important artists and emerging talent,” Kitchings wrote.