Karp was born in the Bronx but grew up in Brooklyn. He became an art dealer in 1958, joining the Leo Castelli Gallery in 1959 as an associate director. Whilst there, he helped sell the works of, popularize and market the initial generation of Pop artists, including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg.
He worked there for ten years, leaving in 1969 to open his own gallery called OK Harris in SoHo (which at the time was the newest gallery district in New York City). Karp died on June 28, 2012 at the age of 86, in Charlotteville, New York.
Karp wrote a comic novel, "Doobie Doo", about love between pop artists.
- Archives of American Art, Interview with Ivan Karp
- The Gallerist, Where Did the Name OK Harris Come From?
- Video interview with Ivan Karp
- Video in which Ivan Karp discusses the work of John De Andrea and Hyperrealism; Duane Hanson also discussed
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