Influential Los Angeles art book dealer Dagny Corcoran dies aged 77


Dagny Corcoran, the influential art book dealer and a staple of the Los Angeles art scene, has died aged 77. Corcoran’s death was announced by the Marian Goodman Gallery, where she had worked since January 2021 in the role of Director of Books and Multiples.

“A force in the Los Angeles art scene, Dagny has been recognized for her entrepreneurial spirit behind the independent bookstore Art Catalogs, specializing in current and out-of-print exhibition catalogs and publications on modern art, architecture and photography,” read a statement. posted on the gallery’s Instagram account. “During the early 1970s, Dagny worked for the Los Angeles branch of the art publishing company of Marian Multiples, Inc., where she and Marian formed a longstanding relationship over their shared commitment to quality .⁠” According to art newsa gallery representative said Corcoran was diagnosed with cancer last spring.

Daughter of Southern California art collector and real estate magnate Edwin Janss, Jr., Corcoran’s childhood home became a gathering place for Los Angeles artists as her father became more involved in the scene. “My mum didn’t understand the collection or my dad’s new friends, these ‘art people,'” she told the the wall street journal in 2021. “One day, Joe Goode delivered this Rauschenberg [sculpture] with a stuffed chicken in it – and my mom basically said, “It’s the Rauschenberg or me.” My father chose the Rauschenberg.

In 1977, after being told by curator and family friend Walter Hopps – who is perhaps best known for co-founding LA’s flagship Ferus gallery alongside Ed Kienholz – that the Pasadena Art Museum, which was becoming the Norton Simon Museum, getting rid of all its old catalogs, Corcoran rushed to buy what she estimated to be around 750 books for $1 each. She then used these books as a seed to open the Art Catalogs bookstore in Los Angeles, specializing in exhibition catalogs and other art publications and which remains open to this day..

The art catalogs began on the second floor of a storefront on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, above the gallery of her then-husband James Corcoran. From 2005 to 2009 it operated out of the Museum of Contemporary Art, from 2010 to 2019 it was based at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Lacma), and today it maintains an independent location in Culver City.

As a friend of the art world, Corcoran was beloved by artists and famous throughout the city for her dinner parties. She was a model for David Hockney, and once had his lower body molded and cast in bronze by Ed and Nancy Keinholz for what became the 1980 sculpture The bronze flipper with a woman also affixed.

“I came to LA very late in its art history, and Dagny taught me about the old days,” Lacma manager Michael Govan said in 2021, reminiscing about the store’s former location . “At Lacma, she created a real social space; it looked like she was the secret director of the institution.


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