David Kordansky Gallery, which has locations in Los Angeles and New York, will now represent New York–based artist Martha Diamond, who is known for her paintings depicting buildings around New York City.
The gallery will offer works by the artist in its booth at Paris+ par Art Basel next month and organize a solo show for Diamond at its LA location next March. She will also be the subject of a 60-work survey organized by the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum and the Colby College Museum of Art, where it will debut next July.
“When you see the work in person, it’s so visionary and idiosyncratic,” dealer David Kordansky told ARTnews in a phone interview. “There’s such a particular homed in vision and sensibility that is so unique.”
Considered by many as an artist’s artist, Diamond, a lifelong New Yorker, is known for her striking, and at times dizzying, views of her hometown’s buildings—of all kinds, from across all five boroughs—that are rendered with loose brushstrokes.
“I was raised a righty, but I paint with my left hand because it’s connected to the part of the brain that sees space, volume, and probably colors better,” Diamond told Artforum in 2021. “You can do it too, and you’ll concentrate much more because the dominant hand has all the habits.”
Artists, who Kordansky cited as fans of her work, include Ugo Rondinone; David Salle, who has curated several exhibitions of her work; and Alex Katz, who has been a friend of Diamond’s since the 1970s and is also a collector of her work. “There’s so many amazing artists who perceive her as a diamond in the rough, no pun intended,” he said. “When you have artists of this kind of caliber championing an artist, just out of sheer respect and love, that’s a really good sign.”
Now 79, Diamond, who has worked from the same studio on the Bowery since 1969, was affiliated with the New York School of poets of the 1970s, like Peter Schjeldahl and John Giorno. Her art came to greater prominence in the 1980s, having been included in the 1984 exhibition “MetaManhattan” at the Whitney Museum as well as the 1989 Whitney Biennial. During this time frame she also showed with major New York dealers: Brooke Alexander (1976–85) and Robert Miller (1985–94).
Her works from the 1980s were recently the subject of a 2021 solo show at Magenta Plains in New York; the gallery also organized an exhibition of her work in 2022 and showed her at their booth during the inaugural edition of Independent 20th Century. Galerie Eva Presenhuber also presented a solo show of the artist in New York in 2018.
In 2004, her work was the subject of a mid-career retrospective at the New York Studio School, and she is represented in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, among others.
When Kordansky learned that the Martha Diamond Trust, which the artist established in 2020 and is currently working on a catalogue raisonné, was looking for new representation, he said he was immediately reminded of those recent exhibitions, “where I saw her work and I was like, Oh my god, this is truly extraordinary painting,” he said. “I had the opportunity to go to her studio and I was just absolutely blown away. I knew I had to show it.”
That experience made him wonder why Diamond’s work hasn’t been centered within the history of New York painters from the 1980s. “Why is this perceived as a marginal position, left out of this conversation? The work is too extraordinary,” he added.
“We are truly honored and thrilled to be working with the David Kordansky Gallery team to build a worthy legacy for such an extraordinary artist, woman, and visionary as Martha,” Olivia Funk, the director of the Martha Diamond Trust, told ARTnews by email. “Martha has always been exceptionally focused on her work, and how people respond to it. … We hope that over time, our collaboration will open many more eyes to what has in many ways been hiding in plain sight on the Bowery for the last several decades. Martha is one of a kind, and we feel David Kordansky Gallery is as well. As Martha likes to say: FAR F***ING OUT.”
When Kordansky opened his New York location last year, he said that his main goal was not only to show LA-based artists in New York “but also finding particular voices who are based in New York and that for whatever reason are not represented within New York or are deserved of being represented in New York.”
Kordansky said that what drew him to Diamond’s practice is a recurring thread that he sees throughout the rest of his program, from artists like Mary Weatherford to Ruby Neri, Raul Guerrero to Fred Eversley. “So many of my artists are incredibly fascinated with this notion of one’s locale and one’s environs,” he said. “What is so interesting with Martha is here you have this extraordinary painter who’s depicting the metropolis, literally speaking to her time and place in New York City. There’s this recognizability through the atmosphere and the ambiance of what these paintings evoke. There’s a feeling there that you get that is all about New York.”