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Nicholas Wilder Gallery records, 1927-1980

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Wilder (Nicholas) Gallery records

Biographical / Historical

Nicholas Walter George Wilder was born in Rochester, New York, in 1938. He graduated from Amherst College in 1960 and studied law at Stanford University before deciding to enter the art field. Wilder opened his gallery on La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles on April 1, 1965, exhibiting contemporary works from New York and Europe, and works by up-and-coming Los Angeles artists. The gallery was highly regarded; Wilder was noted for his keen eye and ability to recognize artistic talent. He gave early exhibitions to Dan Flavin, Ronald Davis, Joe Goode, and Robert Graham, and fostered the work of Sam Francis, David Hockney, John McLaughlin, and many others. He was the first to show Bruce Nauman's performance video pieces and John McCracken's Planks.In 1970, the gallery moved to Santa Monica Boulevard; but changing trends in the art market, including a shift by artists toward creating art with an eye toward the commercial market rather than toward personal expression, and collectors' reluctance to buy work from emerging or unestablished artists, impacted that gallery's financial success.

Wilder decided to close his gallery in 1979, and many of the artists he represented moved to the James Corcoran Gallery. Wilder then moved to New York and reemerged a few years later as an artist inspired by those he had represented, with the James Corcoran Gallery hosting his first solo show in 1986. Nicholas Wilder died of AIDS in New York City on May 12, 1989.

Sources: Rani Singh, Acquisition Approval Form for "Nicholas Wilder (American, 1938-1989) Gallery Records (1965-1979), accession no. 2014.M.35," June 16, 2014.

Aid to the Nicholas Wilder Gallery Records, 1944-1984, AAA.nichwild, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Burt A. Folkart, "Nicholas Wilder; Was Contemporary Art Dealer in L.A.", The Los Angeles Times, May 14, 1989, (accessed November 7, 2017).

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