New director and location for New York's Knoedler engenders personnel overhaul

Building, staff and some artists on the way out


Knoedler and Company, Manhattan’s Upper East Side gallery associated with post-war artists including Helen Frankenthaler and the estate of Richard Pousette-Dart, is undergoing a makeover, with a new leader and new venue. The shifts started last October when gallery director and president Ann Freedman mysteriously resigned after a 32-year tenure. Senior vice president Frank Del Deo was promoted to Freedman’s slot. At the end of December, another director and registrar were dismissed, according to a staffer who spoke on condition of anonymity. Around the same time, the gallery’s East 70th St town house—Knoedler’s home for nearly 40 years—was listed for sale with Sotheby’s International Realty for $59.5m. Amid the flux, sculptor Lee Bontecou and the estate of painter Jules Olitski decamped.

Knoedler’s owner and chairman Michael Hammer said the gallery was moving. “We are in the process of identifying a new location to house the gallery,” said Hammer in a statement. A gallery spokeswoman confirmed Chelsea and other downtown areas were under consideration.

Knoedler was founded in 1846 by Michael Knoedler as a branch of Goupil and Company. The gallery has since changed hands and locations and was sold to industrialist and collector Armand Hammer in 1971, who died in 1990. Michael Hammer is his grandson. Knoedler and the 57th Street Hammer Galleries are part of 8-31 Holdings Inc, a company owned by Michael Hammer.

Hammer recently cashed out of other gallery property, selling the 57th Street building where Hammer Galleries is located for $22.5m in 2007, according to Property Shark, a real estate website. He had paid around $7m in 2001, according to a source with knowledge of the transaction.

Del Deo has been with Knoedler since 1999, working as associate director and senior vice president. Previously he worked at Hirschl and Adler Modern. He declined, through a spokeswoman, to be interviewed for this article.

The gallery’s upcoming shows include Milton Avery’s Depression-era landscapes and Johnny Swing, a Vermont artist who crafts furniture from coins.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Major shake-up at Knoedler'