The Little Gallerist with Big Ideas – Berthe Weill & the Avant-Garde

The art scene I have been talking about recently has been the art of RIGHT NOW. But this week, we are going to go back a century, to the 1920s, to the first art dealer to display ‘young art,’ avant garde art. It was when I was doing research on the painter, Jacqueline Marval, who I wrote about a month or so ago, that I stumbled upon a female gallery owner, Berthe Weill. I told you a little bit about her in that review. Today I want to tell you a little more because everything about her seems so improbable. And because while her male contemporaries are all well known, her accomplishments were neither remembered nor acknowledged until recently and only because an art history student (now Ph.D.) Marianne Le Moran, read her name and wanted to know more, then found more and is now the founding director of the Berthe Weill archives. ( Here are a few reasons that Weill is so important. She was the first gallery owner to sell a Picasso. The first gallery owner to sell a Matisse. The only gallery owner to give the Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani a one man show during his lifetime. And mid-career, she began to highlight women artists, like the aforementioned Jacqueline Marval as well as Ossip Zadkine’s wife, Valentine Prax, and Suzanne Valadon and Marie Laurencin, too.

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