Synopses & Reviews
Over 20 years in the making art critic Stein’s full length debut is an intricate biography of New York art dealer Richard Bellamy (1927–1998) written with a striking level of detail. The wiry bespectacled Bellamy called “the eye of the 60s” by critic Irving Sandler possessed a remarkable ability to pounce on talented artists among them James Rosenquist and Claes Oldenburg before they made it big. He worked as the director of the edgy Green Gallery which was financed by the art collector Bob Scull though perhaps “worked” is not quite the right word: in Stein’s account Bellamy’s tenure at the gallery was merely an extension of his everyday lifestyle floating among the scattered brilliant interconnected artists of New York in the 1960s. He lacked business sense often skimming over financial concerns (he would even urge successful artists to take their work elsewhere for the sake of their careers); he conducted unorthodox scouting trips to studios where he would sometimes lie down in a drunken stupor and take a nap to better absorb the artwork. Bellamy nonetheless turned the Green Gallery into a central player in the development of pop art lyrical abstraction and minimalism. Stein outlines Bellamy’s life and career and then fills that outline in—painstakingly and with plenty of color—using direct quotes and anecdotes woven seamlessly into her narrative. This engrossing story immerses the reader in Bellamy’s whole world—the “creative chaos” of the early 1960s New York contemporary art scene. Bamp;w illus. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
A man with a preternatural ability to find emerging artists, Richard 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.
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 Bellamy and tells the story of a counterculture that became the mainstream.
"Bellamy had an understanding of art and a very fine sense of discovery. There was nobody like him, I think. I certainly consider myself his pupil." --Leo Castelli