Best art dealer in need of a MacArthur award (2008)

Mitchell Algus

Mitchell Algus is the Broadway Danny Rose of art dealers. This is not to say he's not great at what he does. Yet in the midst of one the biggest art booms ever, Algus mounts small, scrappy, extremely focused, provocative exhibitions of artists that time, and certainly the market, forgot. Think of all those painters and sculptors that you've vaguely heard of or remember seeing in the back of an old art magazine, circa 1968 through 1979—people whose work was prescient, accomplished, and even important but who somehow managed to either slip through the cracks or otherwise lacked that certain social something that allows some artists' artists to reach that next level. These are the folks Algus shows. In order to support this labor of love, which has been open in various locations since 1992, Algus—who not only has one of the sweetest eyes in contemporary art, but a Ph.D. in physical geography—teaches high school science at Long Island City High School in Queens. A word to some museum somewhere: Maybe your institution could dedicate a small gallery for Algus to curate; it would be an amazing history lesson. To art collectors: His sweetness notwithstanding, Algus's radar is excellent. To everyone else: In some way, we may all be destined to end up in an Algus-like situation.


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