This Is How We Do It
Opening Reception: September 13 | 6-8PM
- A survey of nearly 250 years of American masterpieces – from works by John Singleton Copley and Thomas Eakins to Andy Warhol, Jules Olitski and current contemporary masters -
New York's oldest art gallery will become Chelsea's newest art destination when Babcock Galleries reopens at 525 West 25th Street under the new name: Driscoll Babcock Galleries.
Prominent for its scholarship of American masterworks, the Galleries’ inaugural Chelsea exhibition, This is How We Do It, heralds both the inspired visions of important classic artists of the past and its commitment to presenting internationally pertinent contemporary art with a historical context. The focus remains on the symbiotic interface of classic and contemporary art and the significant relevance in contemporary experience.
"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. When speaking of great works of art, Classic equals Contemporary, and Contemporary equals Classic." comments John Driscoll, President.
This is How We Do It features masterworks that date from 1763 to 2012, surveying 249 years of American art drawn from the Galleries’ inventory within the venerable gallery’s 160-year legacy. The exhibition will include significant works by 25 artists, including masters such as John Singleton Copley, Thomas Sully, Thomas Eakins, Marsden Hartley, and Stuart Davis; to modern greats Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Jules Olitski and Andy Warhol; and contemporary artists Margaret Bowland, Marylyn Dintenfass and Jenny Morgan; amongst others.
September 13 - October 27, 2012
Driscoll Babcock Galleries
525 W. 25th St.
New York, NY 10001
The Wall Street Journal
August 10, 2012
Venerable Gallery In Modern Move
By JENNIFER MALONEY
New York’s oldest art gallery is synonymous with the staid back rooms of Midtown art dealers, where the works of Old and New World masters trade hands in quiet, carpeted surroundings.
Now, Babcock Galleries is moving to Chelsea. The space at 525 W. 25th St. for Driscoll Babcock Galleries.
The leap to the heart of the city’s contemporary art scene—a neighborhood with a markedly different aesthetic than Midtown—marks a new era for Babcock. The gallery, which for 160 years has specialized in American artworks, is embracing a new look, a new name and a new expansion—into contemporary and international art. It is also expanding its stable of living artists.
Driscoll Babcock Galleries— renamed for its owner, John Driscoll—will open on Sept. 8 at 525 W. 25th St., on a block stacked with such galleries as Pace, Marlborough Chelsea and Nancy Margolis.
The owner’s idea: to hang the work of contemporary artists side by side with historic works that explore the same themes.
“You can’t create this great art in a vacuum,” said Mr. Driscoll, 62 years old. “Our interest is in artists who are cognizant of art of the past and recognize its pertinence in their own work today.”
And so he will move from galleries on Fifth Avenue near East 57th Street—decorated with imported wool carpeting and paint in shades of gray inspired by Cézanne’s Aix-en-Provence studio—to a space with concrete floors, white walls and exposed ducts.
It’s quite a change for a place that has kept the same phone number since 1956, and occasionally receives calls from former clients’ great-grandchildren.
“Someone once said going into Babcock was like going into a white-shoe law firm,” Mr. Driscoll said, acknowledging that he will be adding to his collection of edgy eyeglasses.
Knoedler & Co., founded in 1846, held the title of New York’s oldest gallery until it closed last year. Babcock Galleries was founded by John Snedecor in 1852—18 years before the founding of the Metropolitan Museum of Art—on Broadway near East Eighth Street. From the beginning, it sought out the works of American masters—the likes of George Inness, John Frederick Kensett, Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt and Childe Hassam.
Snedecor’s Gallery gradually zigzagged uptown, and was renamed Babcock Galleries in 1918.
Works that today hang in the Met, the Brooklyn Museum and the National Gallery of Art, among others were sourced by Babcock.
Mr. Driscoll bought the gallery in 1987. Although he followed its tradition of acquiring and sourcing American art, his personal interests are much broader. His own collection includes English, Japanese and Danish art, as well as 20th-century ceramics.
He had been mulling a move downtown for about seven years. He said he jumped at the chance to lease 4,700 square feet—with the possibility of 2,000 more—in a building owned by Related Co.
The gallery owns an unusually large inventory, numbering in the thousands of pieces. Although it has mounted shows and represents estates, it has had only a small stable of living artists. Mr. Driscoll recently signed the Brooklyn painters Jenny Morgan and Margaret Bowland, and said he is in discussions with other artists in the U.S., China and Europe. He will continue his back-office business sourcing works for private collections and museums.
Mr. Driscoll will be presenting a distinctly historic perspective in a neighborhood known for cutting-edge art.
David Maupin, of Lehmann Maupin Gallery in Chelsea, said the idea is compelling. “I think juxtapositions of different periods in our history are always interesting, as long as they are done well,” he said. “I look forward to seeing it.”
Jenny Morgan, a figurative painter, said she left Like the Spice Gallery in Brooklyn to sign with Mr. Driscoll last month.
“There’s a lot of knowledge and experience behind him,” she said. “It’s really exciting.”
Ms. Morgan, who said she draws inspiration from the masters and as well as contemporary portrait painters, said of her decision to join the new venture: “Honestly, it was just instinct. It felt correct.”
Walking through his new space, which is still under renovation, Mr. Driscoll described a glass wall that will enclose the gallery’s archives, which go back 150 years. The design for the main gallery includes LED lights and a metal mesh ceiling, only partially obscuring the “spaghetti” of pipes and ducts above, he said.
And he will keep the phone number from 1956. “Every time that number lights up, we know it’s a phone call from another dimension,” he said. image- Andrew Hinderaker for The Wall Street Journal
Gallery owner John Driscoll in what will be his new showroom.
It's hard to believe that Jenny Morgan's output to date numbers close to 100 paintings since graduating as Valedictorian from the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design just six years ago in 2003. What's even more remarkable is the quality and progression of the work that's been inherent from the start, both through her first three years in Denver and now continuing on in NYC. We know that Morgan's career is going to be considered of major importance one day and value the fact that we've been with her every step of the way. We are currently finalizing a major monograph book that will be available for release next month. "New Territory" commemorates Morgan's gifts as a painter and the remarkable momentum she has built through sharp dedication and focus on her career. The book will feature nearly every painting she has exhibited since debuting in Denver at Pirate Gallery with the exhibition "Delicate Disclosure" leading all the way up through the current paintings on view in the NYC show "Civil Union" and our very own "This Too Shall Pass." While a good portion of the images will be familiar to clients and followers of Morgan's work, there are many gaps that will be filled including some of the most exciting paintings of the last two years from her NYC shows and studio. All together the book will be over 200 pages in full color and a very impressive and collectible piece in it's own right. "New Territory" will be available initially through pre-order via the gallery at a discounted rate and eventually to the public on Blurb.com at a higher rate. To reserve your copy now, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by the gallery to learn more.