Apr/May 2008

Colin De Land, American Fine Arts

Eric Banks


A personal aside: When Colin De Land died in 2003 at age forty-seven, Artforum titled its tribute to him “Shaggy Dogg.” It was one of the most apt titles the magazine ever came up with. First at Vox Populi, the East Village gallery he opened in the early ’80s on East Sixth Street, then at American Fine Arts, on Wooster Street and later in Chelsea, Colin’s approach turned art dealing on its head; it seemed at times to be an inside joke (just like the show he staged of the fake artist John Dogg), but could anyone other than Colin have pulled it off? The cliché is to say Colin made the gallery into its own work of Conceptual art, but clichés always contain a measure of truth. Dennis Balk, who worked with American Fine Arts and Colin for over a decade, has gone through the extensive photo archives Colin maintained and put together an amazing record of the entire scene around him and his wife, Pat Hearn, who died in 2000. Colin De Land, American Fine Arts also features testimonials by more than fifty artists and writers. If you knew Colin and Pat, you must buy a copy; if you didn’t, buy one anyway—it’s a biography in photographic form of one whose likes you won’t see again.

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