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Helen Gee, 85; Her Gallery Pioneered Sales of Photographs as Art

October 14, 2004|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Helen Gee, 85, whose Limelight Gallery in New York's Greenwich Village in the 1950s blazed a trail for the selling of photography as art, died Sunday at a Manhattan hospice. The cause of death was not reported.

Gee opened Limelight in 1954, showing works by photographers as diverse as Ansel Adams and Laszlo Maholy-Nagy, and set a standard for photography galleries that followed.

Gee was born Helen Charlotte Wimmer in Jersey City, N.J. She moved to New York City at the age of 16 to live with Yun Gee, a modernist painter. They married in 1942, but after he turned violent and was diagnosed with schizophrenia, she left with their daughter, Li-Ian.

After the split, Gee retouched transparencies for leading magazines and advertising agencies. She was inspired to open Limelight after seeing a photography exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.

Financial pressures forced the gallery to close in 1961. Gee then became an art consultant and revived interest in Yun Gee's work. During the 1970s, she found work as a photo lecturer, writer and curator.

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