Dayton’s Gallery

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About Dayton’s Gallery

In 1964 the Dayton’s Department store in downtown Minneapolis opened an art gallery on its 12th  floor, called Dayton’s Gallery 12.  The iconic Dayton’s store dated back to 1902, when it was established by George Draper Dayton on the corner of Nicollet Ave and 7th Street.  While many department stores around the country started opening galleries, these usually carried interior decorating merchandise, not high quality art.  No one expected anything different from Dayton’s Gallery 12, yet they proved to become one of the premier galleries of the Midwest.

During its tenure in Minneapolis, Dayton’s Gallery 12 was a powerhouse in the American contemporary art scene. While it was originally greeted with disdain by the art world at its founding in 1964 because it was a department store gallery, it soon gained a reputation as a serious player in the art scene, showing works by the biggest names in the contemporary art world, such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Jasper Johns. Dayton’s Gallery 12 played a unique role in shaping the Midwest art scene, and the American art scene more broadly.

In the 1960’s and 70’s Dayton’s Gallery 12 held major exhibitions of contemporary art in a variety of media, including drawings, prints, paintings, sculptures, and collage.  Their shows featured the leading artists of the day, such as Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Jasper Johns, and Robert Rauschenberg.  In addition to their rotating exhibitions, they carried an inventory of over 1,000 prints by these and other artists.  Although they started out catering to a local market (many of whom were unexperienced collectors), the Gallery ended up with a range of national and international clientel.

It kickstarted the contemporary art market in the Midwest, a market that many critics had doubted existed. Dayton’s Gallery 12 was strengthened by the unique opportunities it provided. Dayton’s Gallery 12 was able to exhibit large collections with huge ranges of works in ways that would not be available elsewhere due to space and other concerns, allowing artists–and even gallery owners such as Leo Castelli–to display large volumes and varieties of works, creating a unique experience which benefited both artists and local viewers.

A list of exhibitions at Dayton’s Gallery 12 follows:

  • Pavlos Paper Constructions
  • Morris Louis
  • Ellsworth Kelly
  • Castelli at Dayton’s
  • Stella, Noland, and Caro
  • Sugarman: Sculpture and Lithographs
  • Calder
  • David Hockney: Drawings
  • Rauschenberg: Currents
  • Charles Ross: Prisms
  • OR: an Introduction (Jud Fine)
  • Charles Biederman
  • Tom Wesselmann
  • Jasper Johns
  • Robert Indiana
  • Vito Acconi
  • Lia Acconi
  • Josef Albers
  • Horst Antes
  • Shusaku Arakawa
  • Enrico Baj

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