[Betty] Parsons’s role as a leading promoter of abstract art is well known. Less well known is that she was an artist.
“Betty led a double life,” a nephew, William P. Rayner, said. “Being an artist was her first priority. That’s why she was such a good dealer and that’s why her artists liked her.”
Once referred to as “the den mother of Abstract Expressionism,” Betty Parsons was an early advocate of the great Abstract Expressionists, including Pollock, Rothko, Reinhardt, Still and Newman, long before they all achieved notoriety. Her midtown gallery, which opened in 1946 (and closed every summer so that Parsons could focus on her own art), gave the Abstract Expresionist artists their first large-scale exposure, making it one of the most prestigious art galleries in New York.
“I’ve learned a great deal about business, but I wasn’t a businesswoman,” Betty Parsons told Grace Lichtenstein in a profile that originally ran in the March 1979 issue of ARTnews, published just three years before Parsons’s death, in 1982.
Throughout her storied career as a gallerist, she maintained a rigorous artistic practice, painting during weekends in her Long Island studio. Parsons’ eye for innovative talent stemmed from her own training as an artist and guided her commitment to new and emerging artists of her time, impacting the canon of Twentieth-Century art in the United States. Includes slideshow and biography~