Based on decades of research and hundreds of interviews with artists, friends, dealers, and lovers, Judith Stein's Eye of the Sixties recovers the elusive artist Richard Bellamy and tells the story of a counterculture that became the mainstream.
A man with a preternatural ability to find emerging artists, Bellamy was one of the first advocates of pop art, minimalism, and conceptual art. The founder and director of the fabled Green Gallery on Fifty-Seventh Street, the witty, poetry-loving art lover became a legend of the avant-garde, showing the work of artists such as Mark di Suvero, Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist, Donald Judd, and others.
Born to an American father and a Chinese mother in a Cincinnati suburb, Bellamy moved to New York and made a life for himself between the Beat orbits of Provincetown and white-glove events such as the Guggenheim's opening gala. He partied with Norman Mailer, was friends with Diane Arbus and Yoko Ono, and frequently hosted or performed in Allan Kaprow's happenings. Always more concerned with art than with making a profit, Bellamy withdrew when the market mushroomed around him, letting his contemporaries and friends, such as Leo Castelli and Sidney Janis, capitalize on the stars he first discovered. Bellamy's life story is a fascinating window into the transformation of art in the late twentieth century.
“In this colorful, meticulously researched, and captivating volume, Judith E. Stein perfectly captures the circus that was the art world of the sixties, in which Richard Bellamy was an inadvertent but essential ringmaster. He was a poet dreamer, an iconoclastic hipster who was as short on business acumen as he was long on vision. Unburdened by art history, his legendary galleries were arenas of possibility; in silence, with intuition and innocence of eye, his guileless ability to identify authentic artists—from Di Suvero to Oldenburg and from Rosenquist to Judd—was uncanny, matched only by the strategies of the great Leo Castelli.”—Adam D. Weinberg, Alice Pratt Brown Director, Whitney Museum of American Art
“Richard Bellamy was one of a kind: a legendary art dealer who was contrary and self-effacing, with a keen eye for the artistically vital and unexpected. The artists he showed at his transformative Green Gallery define the canonical American art movements of the sixties. In Judith E. Stein’s meticulously researched and magnetically animated biography, we see this formative moment in American art through Bellamy’s eyes. Here, it looks boundless, like some unstable nomadic family in which great artists commingled in a wildly generative swarm.”—Michael Brenson, author of Acts of Engagement
"Stein’s compellingly intimate portrait of a creative, passionate, and essential advocate for pop art, minimalism, and conceptual art doubles as a fresh and dynamic chronicle of a historic artistic revolution."—Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
"An intricate biography of New York art dealer Richard Bellamy (1927-1998), written with a striking level of detail . . . This engrossing story immerses the reader in Bellamy's whole world—the 'creative chaos' of the early 1960s New York contemporary art scene."—Publishers Weekly
"A scintillating, detailed portrait . . . [Eye of the Sixties] is an endearing and illuminating work of biography. A shadowy figure of the 1960s art world is gloriously revealed."—Kirkus Reviews
Reviews from Goodreads
Dick and Sheindi lived downtown on Cherry Street, a street on the way to nowhere. She remembered it from her childhood, when the fragrance of spices rode in on the breeze from the East...