In most group portraits of the 1960s art world, the Asian-American art dealer Richard Hu Bellamy (1927–1998) is a blurred presence. Although his bellwether Green Gallery is known as the principal launch site for the new American art, its enigmatic proprietor has eluded study. The narrative of how and why a liminal figure who disdained financial reward became the legendary “eye of the sixties,” arguably the most influential art dealer of his time, provides a new perspective on the relationship of art, power, and money in the latter twentieth century. To view the overly systematized 1960s through the prism of Bellamy’s unconventional life is to freshly understand the messy complexity of this era’s concurrent styles, attitudes, and events. MoMA’s acquisition of Bellamy’s papers for its archives, and their 2008 display of his memorabilia signal an awakening attention to his importance. Judith Stein’s biography will be the first to chronicle Dick Bellamy’s career in the context of his times.
Judith Stein is a writer and curator. She has contributed to Art in America for thirty-five years. Her “Interview with Alfred Leslie” was published in Art in America (January 2009), “An All-Around Image Star, Willie Stokes,” was published by The Fabric Workshop and Museum (2007), and “Richard Tuttle on Bellamy and the 60s” was published by Sienese Shredder (2006). She presented “The Dealer as Co-Conspirator: Selections from the Bellamy Papers at MoMA,” at The New School in 2008. She also presented on Bellamy at the Seattle Art Museum in 2003: “Stepping into History: Bellamy and the Sculpture of the Sixties,” and at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam in 2001: “Bellamy and his Circle of Friends.” Her catalogue I Tell My Heart: The Art of Horace Pippin received the award for best catalogue from the International Art Critics Association in 1995. She received a PhD in art history from the University of Pennsylvania in 1981.