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Barbara Braathen – An Aesthete in The Art Industry

Barbara Braathen – An Aesthete in The Art Industry
A look at Barbara Braathens upbringing, motivation and her career history.
"Her knowledge of art and artists is exceptionally deep."
Barbara braathen
Drawing of Barbara Braathen by Jill Mackie
Beauty is something that draws attention and evokes a response, and perhaps taps into lost emotions. It elicits an expression of wonder and excitement, or awe and amazement. It resembles an "epiphany" or a "peak experience." It might occur when admiring a masterpiece of art or a sunset – the possibilities are endless. 
What better place to seek such experiences than an art gallery.  Providing an arena where art objects can meet their audience, these creative outlets as well provide artists a platform to showcase their work to the public and allow them to maintain relevance, develop their skills, and evolve their artistic intellect.  Barbara Braathen, an art dealer and curator who owned and operated various art galleries in New York from 1980 to 2005, has hosted numerous such exhibitions with many contemporary artists.

An Insight into Her Early Life

Barbara braathen
Braathen was born on July 20, 1944, in North Dakota where she grew up.  Recognized for her artistic talent by the age of five, she was exhibiting and selling her paintings as a teenager.  In college the artist developed into an art historian.  She received her BA and PhDC in Modern Art History and Theory from the University of California Los Angeles.  There, she studied with numerous renowned names in the art industry, including painter Richard Diebenkorn, sculptor John McCracken, aesthetician Lester Longman, renowned Leonardo scholar Carlo Pedretti, and the inspirational and inimitable art historian of modern and contemporary art Kurt von Meier.  Braathen went on to teach modern art history at Michigan State University before moving to New York to follow her dream of having an art gallery.

Career Highlights

In 1980, Braathen established her first art gallery, with partner Guillaume Gallozzi, located at Broadway and Duane Street in Lower Manhattan.  The gallery program emphasized emerging as well as established modern-era artists, with a diverse selection that included everything from abstract and realist painting to conceptual and land art to graffiti art and performance art. 
The gallery became Barbara Braathen Gallery in 1983, and in 1988 moved to Bleecker & Mott in the Noho neighborhood, where it operated until 1998. 
Highlights include collaborations with collaborated with a leading graffiti personality Rammellzee, abstract painter Joan Waltemath, the "Godfather of Contemporary Art Dealers" Leo Castelli, the French Embassy, language artist Guy de Cointet, poet laureate John Ashbery, Surrealist legend Charles Henri Ford, and the Russian Embassy on New York's upper east side.   A highlight was the 1989 exhibition of the paintings of actor Fred Gwynne, with television crews and crowds of guests closing off the street.
In the early phases of graffiti art, Braathen advocated for the acceptance of the new genre into the canons of traditional art history. While fully and heartily accepted in Europe in the 1980s, it was resisted and mocked in American art circles.  Braathen sees Graffiti as an American art movement of great originality, and like Impressionism it was initially rejected in its country of origin.
Several media outlets reviewed and mentioned the exhibitions at Barbara Braathen Gallery, including The New Yorker, Art in America, Artforum, The Atlantic Monthly, Flash Art, Artnews, Vanity Fair, Paper, New York Post, Spy, and many more.
In 2001, Braathen started a new gallery named "The River Gallery," which exhibited, promoted and sold artworks by Delaware River Valley's talented artists as well as those artists she knew from elsewhere. Located in the beautiful little river town Narrowsburg, New York, the gallery ran until 2005.

Barbara's Lifelong Passion – Spirituality & Art

Braathen remains fascinated by the field of modern and contemporary art history, especially "The Spiritual in Art."  For the past decade she has studied Kandinsky and his Russian roots, and has written three screenplays about this period.  But starting an art gallery devoted to the Spiritual in Art has been her lifetime passion.  In an online format, she intends to present contemporary artists who have dealt with spiritual material throughout their careers, as well as to detail a history of the subject, "from cave drawings to the latest trends."
Her enduring interests include studies in Symbolism, Kandinsky, Hilma af Klint and the Spiritual in Art, and mineral collecting.  Currently, she is researching Rudolf Steiner's writings and studying Paramahansa Yogananda, a monk, yogi, and guru, who has introduced millions to meditation and yoga teachings.

Opinion of the Art Industry

Braathen believes that art is a potent source that can alter people, cultures, and the course of history; that contemporary art predicts the future; and that the art industry is a fine place.
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