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At 83, Arne Glimcher Indulges His Inner Curator

At 83, Arne Glimcher Indulges His Inner Curator

At 83, Arne Glimcher has already had unusual longevity as a top art dealer, with more than six decades in the business. But he is still expanding his reach.

Glimcher, the founder and chairman of Pace Gallery, plans to establish a new space in TriBeCa, to open in September, called Gallery 125 Newbury, named after the Boston address where he started Pace in 1960.

“I’m going back to my roots,” Glimcher said of the new place, which will be under the Pace umbrella but will be a sandbox of sorts for him. “It’s a project space for me to do the thematic shows I want to do.”

First up will be an exhibition about “futurism,” he said, not the early 20th-century movement but works by contemporary artists across cultures who are forward-looking. He wasn’t ready to name the artists yet.

“I’m a curator at heart, I always have been,” Glimcher said in an interview. “I always wanted to be the director of MoMA. So this is my little modern art museum.”

His son Marc Glimcher, Pace’s president and chief executive, described the octogenarian’s non-retirement plans this way: “No puttering around, no golf game for my father.”

The programming at 125 Newbury, which will have five shows a year, may involve veteran artists the elder Glimcher already handles, like Richard Tuttle, Sam Gilliam, Lucas Samaras and Robert Irwin, as well as the estates of artists with whom he worked for decades, such as Louise Nevelson, Chuck Close and Agnes Martin. Emerging artists are promised, and as a project space, it will also feature artists Pace does not officially represent.

The TriBeCa location, at the corner of Broadway and Walker Street, in what is perhaps the city’s most vibrant gallery neighborhood, is 3,900 square feet and will be renovated by the firm Bonetti/Kozerski, which designed Pace’s eight-story flagship in Chelsea, completed in 2019. Glimcher plans to split time between the two galleries — as will his designated team, Kathleen McDonnell, Talia Rosen and Oliver Shultz — and more people will be hired to staff the new space.

The family has turned Pace into a global operation, with nine outposts from Seoul to Geneva. A large artist roster means that even the founder’s ideas cannot always be acted on right away.

“Sometimes it has to get pushed on the schedule — I might be able to do my idea in two years,” Glimcher said, adding with a laugh, “I’m too old for that.”

When Glimcher told his son about 125 Newbury, the initial reaction was, “What are you talking about?” Marc Glimcher said.

“But then I wasn’t so surprised,” he went on. “He said he wanted space for his creativity, and we don’t want to stifle his voice.” Glimcher added that it was getting difficult to tell his father that there was no room for his brainstorms.

During the elder Glimcher’s long career,he has been involved in making feature films, directing “The Mambo Kings” and producing “Gorillas in the Mist.”

More recently, in 2020 Pace teamed up with two other powerful galleries, Acquavella and Gagosian, to sell privately the artworks left by the investor Donald B. Marron, who died in 2019, bypassing auction houses for a starry trove including works by Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning.

But few dealers are able to tell stories about the artists themselves as Glimcher can. A case in point is the time in the mid-80s that he and Louise Nevelson drove in a violent rainstorm to visit de Kooning on the East End. They got into an accident that totaled their vehicle, but she insisted on hiring a car service and pressing on to make the appointment with the great painter.

“We were sopping wet, so Bill gave us clothes to wear while ours dried,” Glimcher said. “Imagine us sitting there in de Kooning’s clothes.”

He sounded energized about moving forward with his new project, adding, “I’m doing this because I am so interested in the now, and loving my life in the moment, rather than looking at things retrospectively.”

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