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Benjamin Horowitz, 92; Noted Art Dealer of Heritage Gallery

September 06, 2004|Myrna Oliver | Times Staff Writer

Benjamin Horowitz, influential art dealer who opened his Heritage Gallery in 1961, representing such artists as Charles White, William Gropper and David Alfaro Siqueiros, and a decade later became founding president of the Art Dealers Assn. of California, has died. He was 92.

Horowitz died Friday in Los Angeles of natural causes, according to his gallery co-director, Charlotte Sherman.

A native New Yorker educated in social science, Horowitz worked as a writer until social-realist artists Gropper, Ben Shahn, and Moses and Raphael Soyer urged him to move west to represent their art in Southern California.

After opening the Heritage Gallery on La Cienega Boulevard (later relocated to Pacific Palisades), Horowitz promoted art by African American artists such as White and Latin American artists such as Siqueiros and Jose Clemente Orozco before it was popular to do so.

In 1965, the newly established art dealer wrote the book "Images of Dignity: The Drawings of Charles White." He continued to handle the art in the estates of White and Gropper after their deaths.

About 30 years ago, Sherman said, Horowitz worked with Jake Zeitlin to establish the nonprofit Art Dealers Assn. of California. Horowitz served as the group's president for the first 10 years and remained a board member until his death, working to formulate and enforce a code of ethics for art dealers.

He was often consulted by authorities to help unmask fraudulent art --particularly unauthorized Marc Chagall prints that could be sold for thousands of dollars. He also served as chairman of the California Society of Appraisers, which helps authenticate artwork for investors.

"Art dealers are among the most important contributors to the culture of our community," Horowitz wrote in a commentary for The Times in 1975. "Their galleries are open to the public without charge. They usually discover, sift, evaluate and exhibit the work of new artists. It is through the art dealers' efforts, time and money that artists are brought to the attention of the general public, the collectors and the museums."

As both a writer and art expert, Horowitz was often asked to write notes on artists for arts publications and museum catalogs. Among the artists he represented and became an expert on were Ernie Barnes, Margaret Burroughs, Elizabeth Catlett, Honore Daumier, Robert Graham, Fernand Leger, Joan Miro and Pablo Picasso.

Horowitz served in the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel.

He is survived by a sister, Elizabeth Leider.

Services will be private. The family has asked that any memorial donations be sent to the Art Dealers Assn. of California.

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