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Leo Castelli

Annie Cohen-Solal

He left his mark on the post World War II art market: the name of Leo Castelli cannot be separated from that of artists such as Barnett Newman, Richard Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns or Richard Serra, which he broadcast from the top of a real franchise of subsidiaries where some of the greatest current gallery owners learned their first steps, such as Larry Gagosian or Jeffrey Deitch. The main character of this biography is so fantastic the reader cannot put the book down. Castelli was a Jew from Trieste, a bad student but crazy about litterature, a beautiful athlete. He seduced Ileana Shapira, the heiress of a great family and a real beauty, during an internship at the Assicurazioni Generali in Bucharest in the thirties. She would become another icon of the international art world for over half a century, under the name of Ileana Sonnabend. Leo Castelli was a civil servant for the Bank of Italy, he signed up in the American army during the war, was a broker in works by Kandinsky, and finally opened his own gallery at the age of 50 in Manhattan, and from there he reigned like a prince of the Renaissance, seducing artists, collectors and a squadron of beautiful women, up to his death at the age of 91, in 1999. As the Americans like to say, he was «bigger than life».

Leo Castelli par Annie Cohen-Solal, Gallimard, 2010, 560 p., 33 €

ISBN 978-2-07-077349-7

Leo Castelli - Annie Cohen-Solal

Review published in the newsletter #163 - from 25 February 2010 to 3 March 2010

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