Hans Mayer, an influential dealer whose program championed Constructivism, Op art, and Pop art, died on December 31 at 82. His death was confirmed by Galerie Hans Mayer, the gallery in Düsseldorf, Germany, that he founded.
Mayer was born in Ulm in 1940. At 25, Mayer opened his eponymous gallery in Esslingen, Germany, with a 1965 exhibition of Josef Albers set to John Cage’s music. His was among the founding galleries at Kunstmart Köln, the percursor to Art Cologne and the world’s first art fair, beginning in 1967.
In 1969, Mayer moved the gallery to Düsseldorf, where he was the first to show Andy Warhol. Later, in 1979, he would facilitate the meeting of Warhol and Joseph Beuys.
The gallery rose to prominence with its exhibitions of Op art, Constructivist art, and Kinetic art in the 1960s. The program continued to expand in the 1970s and ’80s to include a roster of art world heavy hitters, such as Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, Ellsworth Kelly, Tom Wesselmann, and Sol LeWitt, as well as cultural icons like Dennis Hopper, Karl Lagerfeld, and John Lennon.
In 1990, video artist Nam June Paik joined the gallery, followed by a younger generation including Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kenny Scharf, Robert Longo, and Tony Oursler.
In addition to focusing on postwar and contemporary art, Mayer also specialized in large outdoor sculptures and installations.
Mayer was the recipient of the European Gallery award for his 40-year engagement with contemporary art in 2008.
Online, there has been an outpouring over the dealer’s passing.