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Betty Parsons

American, 1900-1982


Curating Works


Betty Parsons was born in New York into a prominent family in 1900. Parsons wanted to be an artist after visiting the Armory Show in 1913. She took classes at Parsons School of Design and thereafter she relocated to Paris in 1922. Parsons quickly found herself amongst prominent artistic and literary circles that included Alexander Calder, May Ray, and Gertrude Stein. She studied alongside Alberto Giacometti. She studied with Alexander Archipenko in Los Angeles. In 1935, Parsons moved back to New York, where she was taught by Arshile Gorky. Parsons began to receive solo exhibitions in the early 1930s. To supplement her income, she took jobs assisting art dealers in Manhattan before opening the Betty Parsons Gallery in September 1946. Parsons’ roster included Jackson Pollock, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko, and Clyfford Still as she was a visionary in Modern art. Parsons is also credited with launching the careers of an array of artists over the course of the gallery’s 36-year history, including Helen Frankenthaler, Hedda Sterne, Barnett Newman, Ellsworth Kelly, and Richard Tuttle. Her work can be found in the collections of Smithsonian, Whitney, MoMA, Carnegie Museum of Art, Whitechapel Gallery, and High Museum.