Legendary Gallerist Paula Cooper Cements a Succession Plan, Promoting Four Longtime Employees to Partner

A month after her 83rd birthday, art dealer Paula Cooper has named four partners to carry on her legacy at New York’s Paula Cooper Gallery.

Steve Henry, the gallery’s director since 1998, will be senior partner, and Lucas Cooper, the dealer’s son, who has worked at the gallery since 2013, will be managing partner.

Longtime employees Anthony Allen, who joined the gallery in 2000, and Alexis Johnson, who was on staff from 2010 to 2016 and returned earlier this year (after five years at Lévy Gorvy) will be partners. Collectively, the four employees boast 60 years experience at the gallery.

“It is with great enthusiasm that I welcome these four remarkable individuals as my partners,” Cooper said in a statement. “Their dedication and that of the staff, community of professionals, and collectors with whom we collaborate has made clear that there is a place for a focused, artist-driven gallery like ours—even in an art world that has continued to change dramatically since we opened our doors in 1968.”

The Paula Cooper Gallery at 155 Wooster Street, in SoHo, in 1973. Photo by Mates and Katz, courtesy of Paula Cooper Gallery.

The Paula Cooper Gallery at 155 Wooster Street, in SoHo, in 1973. Photo by Mates and Katz, courtesy of Paula Cooper Gallery.

Cooper has been at the forefront of change in the industry since the gallery moved from Soho to Chelsea in 1996 and, this year, opened its first outpost outside of New York, in Palm Beach, Florida. Henry, who spearheaded the space, will split his time between the two cities.

In New York, the gallery is currently renovating its primary location at 524 West 21st Street, which is slated to reopen late this year. In the meantime, it is holding exhibitions at 524 West 26th Street and on the second floor of 521 West 21st Street.

Cooper still isn’t retiring, but her succession plan will allow her to gradually hand over some of the day-to-day responsibilities of running the business, a process that has already begun.

Passing the reins of a long-running art business can prove challenging, as Janelle Reiring and Helene Winer recently noted in their announcement about the closure of their 40-year-old Chelsea gallery Metro Pictures at the end of 2021.

But Cooper is confident her hand-picked successors will be able to build on her success. “Lucas, Steve, Anthony, and Alexis understand what has made this gallery possible for 50 years,” she said. “They not only understand the culture, but also how to evolve in the next chapter.”

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Art Dubai Artistic Director Pablo del Val Is Juggling Two Art Fairs, and Dancing With His Partner on FaceTime

Just before the close of Art Dubai last week, which had its first in-person edition since its 2020 show was scuttled, we caught up with Pablo del Val to hear about what he was doing for the show, and what he’s been doing in the past year.

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on the current [in-person] edition of the Art Dubai 2021 art fair. It will be the first major art fair to take place after the first lockdown, almost one year ago. We’re simultaneously preparing for the 2022 edition of the fair.

Walk us through the when, where, and how of your approach to this project on a regular day.

I’m based between London and Dubai. My day has no set hours. In London it starts with an early walk with Pía, my white mini schnauzer. When I’m in Dubai, when weather permits, I always walk to the office, a three-mile walk.

My mornings set my state of mind and allow me to decide priorities and bring light to the pending answers I have from the previous day. I tend to be in limbo thinking and rethinking, so I need to activate different systems to get back to reality.

What is your favorite part of your house and why?

The deck of my living room enjoying the quietness of the adjoining St George’s Gardens in Bloomsbury.

Pablo del Val's deck. Courtesy Pablo del Val.

Pablo del Val’s deck. Courtesy Pablo del Val.

What’s your favorite work of art in the house and why?

Elena del Rivero’s wedding present. My sister from another mother is a magnificent artist.

What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud?

When I FaceTime with my partner. We were rehearsing a Tik Tok performance inspired by Anne Imhof meets Madonna.

Are there any movies, music, podcasts, publications, or works of art that have made a big impact on you recently? 

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s exhibition at Tate Britain. It was fantastic to remember the importance of paintings. Michael Rakowitz’s exhibition at the Jameel Arts Center in Dubai was a great way to show how an artist can magically connect contemporary issues and pop culture with history.

I’ve been walking in London with my dog and discovering so many things that tend to be unnoticed: Barbara Hepworth’s sculpture on the facade of the John Lewis building, the Henry Moore facade on the Time Life Building on New Bond Street, and the sculptures by Sir Charles Wheeler at the Tower Hill Memorial. The pandemic has taught us that we take so many things for granted!

Are these any causes you support that you would like to share?

I’m particularly supportive of initiatives against bullying, especially shelters that provide a safe and secure environment for children that have been victims of bullying in their homes.

What’s going on in the kitchen these days? Any projects? And triumphs or tragedies?

Diet, diet, diet. No red meat, alcohol, deep-fried foods, and so on. I enjoy the luxury of fresh vegetables coming directly from a Mediterranean vegetable patch. And always fresh grilled fish. I am trying to age gracefully.

Pablo del Val is a big fan of fresh fish. Courtesy Pablo del Val.

Pablo del Val is a big fan of fresh fish. Courtesy Courtesy Pablo del Val.

Which two fellow art-world people, living or dead, would you like to convene for dinner, and why?

Tom Burr, because he is one year older than me and every time I see a work by him, I shiver. I would invite him along with my grandmother. She was an art historian, the authority on Francisco de Zurbarán, a collector and a patron of the Prado Museum. She passed away when I was 17 and I miss conversations with her.

The past and the present would be a very exciting combination and totally surreal. My grandmother was also an amazing cook. She even learned Danish to understand a recipe.

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