John Driscoll, the longtime owner of Driscoll Babcock Galleries, which is among the oldest fine art galleries in New York, died on April 10 from complications related to Covid-19. The gallery confirmed the news in a statement.
Driscoll assumed leadership of the gallery in 1987, after holding professional appointments at institutions including the Palmer Museum of Art, Yale University, and New York University. Since its founding in 1852 by John Snedecor, the gallery has dealt primarily in contemporary and classical American painting, securing works by Franz Kline, Andy Warhol, Winslow Homer, and others for private and institutional collections worldwide.
During Driscoll’s tenure, he oversaw the gallery’s move from Fifth Avenue to West 25th Street in Chelsea in 2012 and subsequent rebranding from Babcock Galleries. In celebration of the relocation, Driscoll organized “This is How We Do It,” a survey of roughly 250 years of American painting featuring prominent works by Jules Olitski, John Singleton Copley, and Andy Warhol, in addition to contemporary artists such as Margaret Bowland and Jenny Morgan.
“Classic historical art always has currency in contemporary cultures and great contemporary art informs not only our own moment, but our perspective on classic art,” Driscoll said in a statement at the time of the opening. “When speaking of great works of art, classic equals contemporary, and contemporary equals classic.”
In a statement, Driscoll Babcock Galleries said, “The family and staff of Driscoll Babcock Galleries mourn the loss of an inimitable scholar, gracious mentor, generous patron, and most importantly a great friend. His integrity, intelligence, kindness, humor, and dedication to art inspired all who knew him.”