Leo Castelli

Leo Castelli by Andy Warhol

Leo Castelli (1907 – 1999), born Leo Krausz, was an American art dealer whose gallery showcased cutting edge Contemporary art for five decades. Castelli showed Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Neo-Dada, Pop Art, Op Art, Color field painting, Hard-edge painting, Lyrical Abstraction, Minimal Art, Conceptual Art, and Neo-expressionism, among other movements. Leo Castelli was born at Trieste, of Italian and Austro-Hungarian Jewish origin. Castelli’s first American curatorial effort was the famous Ninth Street Show of 1951, a seminal event of Abstract Expressionism.

In 1957, he opened the Leo Castelli Gallery in a townhouse on 77th Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues. Initially the gallery showcased European Surrealism, Wassily Kandinsky, and other European artists. However the gallery also exhibited American Abstract Expressionism. Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning were some artists who were included in group shows. In 1958, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns joined the gallery, signaling a turning away from Abstract Expressionism, towards Pop Art, Minimalism and Conceptual Art. From the early 1960s through the late 70s, Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and Ed Ruscha joined the stable of Castelli artists.

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