Storied Dealer Irving Blum Curates Lichtenstein Show

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2023-09-04 18:50:50  • 8 mins

The art dealer Irving Blum remembers walking into Leo Castellis New York gallery in 1965 and being taken by Roy Lichtensteins painting of a composition book, because he himself had carried one throughout grade school.

Blum called Lichtenstein, a friend of his, and said he needed to see the Pop artist. He said, How urgent? Blum recalled. I said, Life or death. He said, Come on over.

At Lichtensteins studio, Blum told him he was determined to buy the painting. But it had already been sold to the dealer Ileana Sonnabend, Castellis wife. I said, Roy, Ive got it: Ill marry Ileana. I simply have to have that painting.

Two months later, a crate arrived at Blums gallery with a duplicate version of the composition book and a note from Lichtenstein: Dear Irving, Not necessary to marry Ileana. Best, Roy.

The exchange speaks to the closeness shared by the two men, and now Blum has organized a show of his friends rarely seen sculptures that opens at Gagosian on Madison Avenue in New York on Sept. 9 in honor of the centenary of Lichtensteins birth.

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