Ronald Feldman (born 1937) and the eponymous gallery he founded with his wife, Frayda Feldman, are among the pantheon of dealers and art galleries that mythologized the New York City art scene throughout the 60s and 70s, mentioned in the same breath as Leo Castelli’s Gallery and Eleanor Ward’s Stable Gallery. Additionally, Feldman was a great commissioner and publisher of many of Andy Warhol’s prints, including his Myths, Ads, and Endangered Species portfolios from the 1980s.
Ronald Feldman’s path to art was an unorthodox one. He attended New York University Law School and eventually made partner at the corporate-law firm of Helfland, Lesser & Moriber. However, he found the work “miserable” and considered a transition to art after considerable stress and fatigue. His transition started by taking art classes. He began to sell prints too. This led to the founding of the Feldmans’ gallery in 1971 in the Upper East Side of Manhattan in the space formerly occupied by the aforementioned Stable Gallery. The gallery hit its stride in 1974 with a highly publicized collaboration with German conceptual artist Joseph Beuys, who Warhol would meet and create portraits of later in the decade. In the 1980s, Ronald Feldman gallery struck up a particularly fruitful relationship with Warhol, commissioning 54 paintings, drawings, and prints in all. It also published a catalogue raisonné of Warhol’s prints. During this time (1982, specifically) the gallery made the move from their original location to SoHo.
Feldman has created a legacy of so-called “risky” exhibitions, showing artists such as Hannah Wilke, and conceptual artist Jenny Holzer in 1983. That risk paid off, not only in having a successful gallery that still operates to this day, but also in 1994, when Feldman was appointed to the National Endowment for the Arts Council by then-President Bill Clinton. He served for 5 years.
Ronald Feldman retired and stepped down as director of the gallery in 2019, citing health reasons. He continued to live with his wife in Chappaqua, N.Y., before passing away at the age of 84 on December 20th, 2022.