Angela Westwater, From “Gallery Girl” to Venerable New York Dealer

Convincing the global architectural giant Norman Foster to sign onto a building project is no small coup. Remarkably, in 2010, Angela Westwater and her partner Gian Enzo Sperone—the forces behind New York’s Sperone Westwater gallery—realized just such a project, moving from their space in the Meatpacking to an eight-story high-rise a few doors down from the New Museum on Bowery, custom-designed by Foster himself. The New York Times, describing Westwater as an “art world eminence,” reported on the considerable art world buzz surrounding the building’s opening, and the speculation by some that the new space was further testament to the Lower East Side increasingly becoming a viable competitor to Chelsea’s dominance in the New York art world.  

But for Angela Westwater, whose storied career has included a 3-year stint as managing editor for Artforum and decades of pro bono work as President of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation (which has given away more than $9 million in grants to 461 artists nationwide), as well as a rigorous gallery program that has focused on the European and American avant-garde, the now-3-year-old space is simply an opportunity to exhibit an impressive roster in a more dynamic and expansive space. Sperone Westwater represents the likes of William Wegman, Tom Sachs, Susan Rothenberg, Richard Long, Bruce Nauman, and Julian Schnabel. Westwater first honed her keen eye for visual art as John Weber’s “gallery girl” at the legendary 420 West Broadway, when the building opened in September 1971. But she traces one of her most influential encounters with art to the 1972 Documenta 5 in Kassel, curated by Harald Szeemann. “It was a thought-provoking exhibition, more than a definition of art or what art could be,” she told us. “This experience inspired and influenced my ‘mission.’”

At the upcoming Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA) Art Show, Sperone Westwater’s booth will be devoted to seven new sculptures by Charles LeDray, the New York-based artist known for his powerfully resonant objects made of fabric, clay, and bone. “Two of my favorites,” Westwater told us, “are SHE and Rainbow. SHE consists of an array of bikinis, pajamas, and underthings suspended from a looping brass bracket, which forcefully engage aspects of beauty and artifice. The larger work Rainbow reveals LeDray’s poetic imagination, as well as his technical artistry—his ‘universe’ makes me wonder, reflect, and admire.” And with upcoming exhibitions of new work by Ali Banisadr and Guillermo Kuitca at the Bowery gallery, Westwater continues to offer a vital contribution to New York’s art world.

Visit Sperone Westwater at The Art Show 2014, Solo Show, Booth B1, March 5th–9th.

Portrait of Angela Westwater courtesy of Sperone Westwater, New York

Explore ADAA: The Art Show on Artsy.