Art Dealer Annina Nosei Donates Her Gallery Catalogues to Magazzino Italian Art

The Manhattan gallerist was Jean Michel-Basquiat's first art dealer.

Black and white photo of woman looking to the side wearing black dress
Annina Nosei’s historic gallery first opened in the 1980s. Courtesy Annina Nosei Gallery

Annina Nosei, an Italian gallerist who for decades represented notable artists like Ghada Amer, Robert Longo and Richard Prince and was the first dealer to represent Jean-Michel Basquiat, is donating the catalogue archives of her eponymous gallery to Magazzino Italian Art. Located in Cold Spring, New York, the museum is dedicated to promoting postwar and contemporary Italian art in the U.S.

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Nosei selected the institution because of her gallery’s early emphasis on Italian artists like Nunzio and Gian Marco Montesano. “But I also showed artists from all over the world,” she told Observer, noting exhibitions showcasing work by Congolese painter Chéri Samba and Mexican artist Julio Galán.

The gifted materials document a “significant and tumultuous period in recent art history,” said Magazzino Italian Art in a statement. The donation, which comprises catalogues spanning exhibitions at the Annina Nosei Gallery from 1986 to 2005 and two volumes of Nosei’s memoirs, was given to the museum’s Germano Celant Research Center.

Nosei is originally from Rome and studied literature and philosophy at the University of Rome before moving to the U.S. in 1964 after receiving a Fulbright grant. She went on to teach at the University of Michigan, Manhattan’s St. John’s University, Brooklyn’s Kingsborough Community College, and the University of California, Los Angeles.

Her first gallery experiences consisted of organizing exhibitions at the gallery of her former husband John Weber in Los Angeles, followed by Nosei showcasing and dealing artwork in a Manhattan loft owned by Larry Gagosian in 1979. The following year, she opened the Annina Nosei Gallery in SoHo, which later moved locations to Chelsea in 1995 and focused largely on the vivid and figurative work of Neo-Expressionists.

Nosei’s association with Jean-Michel Basquiat

Nosei first came across Basquiat, who would go on to become a key figure of the Neo-Expressionism movement, in 1981 at the MoMA PS1 “New York/New Wave” group exhibit. “Even though there were 100 artists there, the one that I liked the most was Jean-Michel Basquiat,” said Nosei. Upon learning the painter didn’t have a studio, she offered him the use of a basement underneath her gallery.

In 1982, Nosei gave Basquiat his first-ever U.S. solo exhibition. She also included his work in a 1981 group show entitled “Public Address” with artists like Bill Beckley, Mike Glier, Keith Haring, Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer and Peter Nadin. Basquiat’s work “was like a new alphabet of art and painting,” she said.

Nosei has turned to private consulting since closing her gallery nearly two decades ago. She previously donated archival materials relating to private acquisitions, sales and various gallery records to New York University’s Fales Library and Special Collections, who were “particularly interested in what I showed in the ’80s,” according to the dealer. Earlier this year, she also gifted a batch of exhibition catalogs to Lacasapark, an artist residency located in Gardiner, New York.

Art Dealer Annina Nosei Donates Her Gallery Catalogues to Magazzino Italian Art