Benjamin Horowitz, influential art deal, gallery owner, and founding president of the Art Dealers Association of California, died on September 3, 2004 at the age of 92.
A native of New York City educated in the social sciences, Horowitz worked as a writer until social-realist artists William Gropper, Ben Shahn, and brothers Moses and Raphael Soyer urged him to move west to represent them in Southern California. After opening the Heritage Gallery on La Cienega Blvd (later relocated to Pacific Palisades), Horowitz also promoted art by African American artists such as Charles White and Latin American artists such as David Alfaro Siqueiros and Jose Clemente Orozco before it was popular to do so. (In 1965, Horowitz wrote "Images of dignity: The Drawings of Charles White." And he continued to handle the art in the estates of White and Gropper after their deaths.)
According to the Heritage Gallery's co-director Charlotte Sherman, Horowitz worked with Jake Zeitlin to establish the nonprofit Art Dealers Association of California. Horowitz served as the group's president for the first 10 years and remained a board member until his death. He was particularly interested in 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. Horowitz 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."