Oral history interview with Phillip A. Bruno, 2009 January 13-21
Bruno, Phillip A., 1930-
McElhinney, James, 1952-
Cuevas, José Luis
Hefner, Hugh M. (Hugh Marston),
Hirshhorn, Joseph H.
Kubach-Wilmsen, Anna Maria
Neuberger, Roy R. (Roy Rothschild)
Staempfli, George W.
Grace Borgenicht Gallery
La Napoule Art Foundation, Henry Clews Memorial
Widgeon Point Charitable Foundation
World House Galleries
Exposition universelle et internationale
Place of publication, production, or execution:
New York (State)
Transcript: 46 pages
Originally recorded on 2 sound discs. Reformatted in 2010 as 2 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hr., 45 min.
An interview of Phillip A. Bruno conducted 2009 January 13-21, by James McElhinney, for the Archives of American Art, at the Archives of American Art, in New York, New York.
Bruno speaks of some his earliest impressions of art while growing up in New York and Paris; attending Columbia University, where he majored in the history of painting and architecture and studied under Meyer Schapiro; his first job at the Weyhe Gallery as a gallery assistant; helping create the Grace Borgenicht Gallery, where he served as director for five years; traveling to Mexico, meeting Jose Cuevas and exhibiting his work at the Edward Loeb Gallery in Paris; traveling to Brazil and meeting a family of naturalist painters who emphasized the importance of painting outdoors, unlike many painters from the New York school; working with Henry Clews and the La Napoule Art Foundation; selling a piece of Salvador Dali jewelry made by Carlos Alamanni to Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy Magazine; working as director of The World House Gallery and selling works by Fancis Bacon and Max Ernst to clients such as Joseph Hirshorn and Roy Neuberger; organizing a exhibition of artists shown at the Brussels World Fair in 1958 at World House and meeting George Staempfli through the artist Joan Brown; moving from World House to the Staempfli Gallery in 1960 to work as co-director; the Staempfli Gallery's role in the international art world; an original drawing by Leonard Baskin inscribed to Phillip in 1954; selling the work of artists such as Harry Bertoia, Fritz Koening, and David Park; meeting Henri Matisse in Paris at the age of 21; visiting the studios of Alexander Calder and Mark Rothko; the difference between galleries that can spot new talent and galleries that sell certain artists well; the art market becoming less idealistic and more commercial; the rising importance of auction houses and the possibility of their taking the place of traditional art galleries; the move of the Staempfli Gallery to the SoHo neighborhood and soon after, leaving Staempfli for Marlborough, where he was one of the New York directors for 18 years; his appreciation for the creativity of others, retirement and current plans to write his memoirs. Bruno also recalls Milton Avery, Gabor Peterdi, Hans Muller, Ralston Crawford, Randall Morgan, Charlotte Willard, Dorthy Satterlee, Masayuki Nagare, Claude Bemardin, Kubach-Wilmsen, Louise Nevelson, Cladio Bravo, Lopez Garcia, Alberto Giacometti, The Barnes Foundation, Richard Estes, Alex Katz, and Neil Wlliver.
Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Phillip A. Bruno, 2009 January 13-21. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for this interview was provided by the Widgeon Point Charitable Foundation. Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.
Phillip A. Bruno (1930- ) is an art collector and director of Marlborough Gallery, New York, New York.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001