Sperone Westwater Gallery was founded in 1975, when Italian art dealer Gian Enzo Sperone, Angela Westwater, and Konrad Fischer opened a gallery space at 142 Greene Street in SoHo, New York. It was originally called Sperone Westwater Fischer, uniting the three founders’ last names, until the gallery’s name was changed to Sperone Westwater in 1982 when Fischer left the partnership. Additional space was later established at 121 Greene Street to ideate the expanding vision of the gallery and to make room for evolving needs and visions.
About the Founders
The gallery came to fruition when the passions of three individuals combined, necessitating a place to share fine art with the public. Gian Enzo Sperone and Konrad Fischer were both art dealers in Italy and Germany, respectively. Angela Westwater grew up in a home where art was appreciated. She eventually minored in art history at Smith College and earned an M.A. in government. Westwater’s continuing interest in art kept her involved in exhibitions and in strong relationships with curators and artists, which organically led to her working with Sperone and Fischer to establish their own gallery.
Sperone is passionate about history and collecting pieces, which has resulted in 90% of the Sperone Westwater gallery’s works being sourced from his private collection. He has an interest in juxtaposing contemporary art with the works of “Old world masters” to see how they relate to each other.
In a 2012 interview with Art in America, Sperone remarked, “It was a revelation that the work of a contemporary artist like Ai Wei Wei could be so powerful alongside the work of a great master like Batoni. In my house, I already had time periods mixed, but I wasn’t sure that it would work well in the gallery.”
This innovative experiment at breaking art timelines and finding a dialogue between different styles of art is just one of the ways in which the Sperone Westwater Gallery shines.
The founders’ original program showcased a European avant-garde alongside a core group of American artists to whom its founders were committed. Notable early exhibitions include a 1977 show of minimalist works by Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, and Sol Lewitt; seven of Bruce Nauman’s seminal early shows; eleven Richard Long exhibitions; and the installation of one of Mario Merz’s celebrated glass and neon igloos in 1979 — part of the gallery’s ongoing dedication to Arte Povera artists, including Alighiero Boetti.
The inaugural show featured Carl André, an American minimalist artist known for his large public artworks and sculptures in a linear and grid format. He also prefers to use natural elements like stone, wood, and metal in his works. He has established a bold legacy, inviting lively dialogue — and a fair amount of controversy too. His Stone Field Sculpture in Hartford, in which he laid large stones in the middle of a field, produced mixed reactions from locals. This event prompted the discussion “what is art?” to residents and art students in the community, and forced people to wonder if a creative vision needs to be validated by the audience to gain the title of “art”.
Other early historical exhibitions at the Greene Street space include a 1989 group show, “Early Conceptual Works,” which featured the work of On Kawara, Bruce Nauman, Alighiero Boetti, and Joseph Kosuth, among others; a 1999 Fontana exhibition titled “Gold: Gothic Masters and Lucio Fontana”; and selected presentations of work by Piero Manzoni. From May 2002 to May 2010, the gallery was located at 415 West 13 Street, in a 10,000-square foot space in the Meatpacking District.
More Notable Exhibitions & Artists
The Sperone Westwater Gallery recently exhibited drawings by renowned American pop artist Andy Warhol in the show Andy Warhol By Hand: Part II, Drawings 1950s – 1960s. The collection was curated by Vincent Fremont, the founder of the Andy Warhol Foundation.
Not only does the gallery show historic art that has left a firm imprint in modern art history, but the institution pursues living artists who are adding countless new works to the canon of modern art. Francesco Clemente’s dream-like paintings that explore human spirituality and basic instincts enrich the Sperone Westwater Gallery’s collection. Due to him being a well-traveled man, his works also draw much inspiration from the diverse cultures and locations he has explored. Viewing his art takes you into another place and frame of mind while delighting you with his bold use of color and contrasting visuals.
The gallery also proudly curates works from Mimmo Paladino, one of the leaders in the Transavanguardia artistic movement of the 1970s and 1980s. The influence of the expressionist revival of expressionist paintings run like veins through his works, whether it is oil paintings or mixed media.
Paladino’s surprising choice of color, shape, and texture captivate the viewer’s imagination and incites curiosity. For example, “neve di primavera”, which means “spring snow”, is not a painting blanketed in white as one would expect, but it is emblazoned with bold, primary colors like red and blue. Instead of having soft curves as one sees after a snowfall, this mixed media work has rough, sharp edges and geometric internal shapes.
Works from Paladino and Clemente are just a couple of examples of what you can find in this exclusive online sale from internationally acclaimed galleries.