Julien Levy

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Not to be confused with the American artist Julian E. Levi

Julien Levy (1906–1981) was an art dealer and owner of Julien Levy Gallery in New York City, important as a venue for Surrealists, avante-garde artists and American photographers in the 1930s and 1940s

Levy was born in New York. After studying museum administration at Harvard under Paul J. Sachs, Levy dropped out,[1] traveled to Paris by boat, and befriended Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, and Berenice Abbott, through whom he came into possession of a portion of Eugène Atget's personal archive. In Paris he also met his future wife, Joella Haweis, daughter of artist and writer Mina Loy.

Back in New York, Levy worked briefly at the Weyhe Gallery before establishing his own New York gallery at 602 Madison Avenue in 1931. Concentrating at first on photography, he staged Man Ray's first major show, introduced Henri Cartier-Bresson to the U.S., and promoted many other European and American figures. On January 29, 1932 came the landmark multi-media Surrealist exhibition of the work of Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Joseph Cornell, Marcel Duchamp, and the introduction of Salvador Dalí's The Persistence of Memory (which Levy owned). He also championed the surrealist work of Leon Kelly.This exhibition marks the first in New York to display the works of members of the official surrealist group. [2]

In 1937 the gallery moved to 15 East 57th Street, where Levy mounted the first solo exhibition of the work of Frida Kahlo, November 1 to 15, 1938. [3] From 1943 to 1949 the gallery was located at 42 East 57th Street. In 1945 Arshile Gorky had his first solo show there.

After closing the gallery, Levy taught at Sarah Lawrence College and State University of New York at Purchase. Levy's books include Memoir of an Art Gallery and Surrealism.

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