Born and raised in and around New York City, Robert Dimin entered the art world twenty-five years ago as an artist focused on photography and collage. Fast forward ten years, post graduate school, and a variety of entry level jobs later; and Robert received some astute advice that perhaps his contribution was not as an individual artist, but instead as a support system for many artists. The suggestion of promoting dozens of artists had an immediate appeal and with that a career as a gallerist began.
From 2015 to 2022, Dimin was a partner at Denny Dimin Gallery (New York). In 2023, Robert began the solo venture, DIMIN. DIMIN is located in a 2000 square foot gallery on Broadway in Tribeca—the heart of the New York gallery district.
Robert Dimin is a proud parent of a Bernedoodle named Ethel. He studied photography and art history as an undergraduate at The New School in New York City and received an MFA from The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Hi Robert! It is such a pleasure to chat with you. How is your day going, what is in store for you at this moment in time?
Hi! It is great to talk with you as well. I am all sorts of busy at the moment. I am opening my new gallery in a few weeks so I am dealing with contractors and caterers and all sorts of operational logistics all the while stopping off at artists studios and thinking about my future program.
We would love to know more about your upbringing. Where are you from and what are the arts communities like there?
I have spent most of my life living in or around New York City so as a child I was exposed to art very early. I went to a very small private elementary school in Englewood, New Jersey. The arts were a huge part of the curriculum. We would take regular field trips to all the museums in the city. My mom would tell a story about me running around the postmodern painting room at the Met as an 8 or 9 year old telling everyone who would listen about Jackson Pollock and Elsworth Kelly. I vividly remember learning about a Japanese woodcut exhibition in class and making my parents take me several times even though we went as a class. As a teenager I was really into the electronic music scene in NY. This world had so much overlap with the artworld in the mid 90’s. It is pretty funny as there was a nightclub in Tribeca that I would go to every Friday night for years. Today a very prominent arts foundation occupies the space that was once the dance floor. I learned recently that Alexander Calder owned the building when it housed the club. I also organized music events and in 1997 when I was 17 I organized a huge music festival at the Brooklyn Bridge Anchorage. I partnered with a record label but also Creative Time who was using the Anchorage as an exhibition space. Its wild as years later I was an intern at Creative Time and I mark that job as my first major entry into the art world.
Please tell us a little more about yourself, when did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in this industry?
I wanted to be an artist since I was a teenager. I went to art school and got an MFA and thought for a while that I was going to make work. I had been exposed to art dealers at a young age. I dated someone in middle school whose parents were pretty big dealers and then I had a very good friend in high school whose parents are major major collectors and private dealers so I was very aware of working in the gallery world but it wasn’t sure I was going t be a dealer until I was just out of graduate school and it seemed like the perfect place for me within the industry.
What was your first ever job? What is an important lesson from it that has carried with you?
My first job was as a rave promoter. It’s a strange first job I know but it makes sense for me. I learned how to organize people, work with all sorts of creatives and oddly enough it gave me great stamina to get little sleep and be able to function. This is extremely valuable during art fair weeks.
You are the founder of the new TriBeCa gallery, DIMIN. Tell us more about DIMIN and what inspired you to open your own gallery!
It was time as they say. I was partners with someone for 8 years and this was the moment that our visions seemed to no longer be inline with each other. So it was natural to try something new.
What does the day-to-day look like for you? What does a great work day look like?
Right now it has been so busy. The partnership ended just before the new year so it has been overwhelming with building and meetings and planning. But a great work day will involve selling works to strong collectors, having meetings with museum curators about upcoming projects we are working on together and a few lengthy chats with artist friends about stuff going on in the studio.
Who are some emerging artists that you are excited about right now? Who should people keep an eye on?
Right now I am looking at so much and have been extremely inspired about the state of the work being made. All of the artists in my first few shows are really fantastic, not all are emerging but a few names to keep your eye on are Ryan Wilde, Chase Biado, Whit Harris, Samantha Joy Groff and Emily Marie Miller Coan.
What has been the most challenging part about opening your own gallery?
All of it! There is just so much that goes into building a new gallery. Really the balancing of building a program and the system to support the program is a lot.
You have a history as an artist yourself. Seeing the gallery world from both sides, what do you wish more gallerists knew about artists / more artists knew about gallerists?
I wish more gallerists understood what really goes into making work, the time, the mental energy and the expense. I wish artists understood how hard it is to place works and to get into fairs and to get press.
What are you most excited for this year at DIMIN or in the art world as a whole?
I am excited to put my personal vision out in the world. Really it’s an approach to how to navigate in the world.
As you know, Art Frankly is a community that cares about job transparency and supporting fellow art professionals. What is the best piece of advice you can give about working in the art world?
To be self aware about how lucky we are to work in the art world. That everyday we get to work with ideas around art and that is truly a blessing. Yes the pay is bad and the hours and pressure are often ridiculous but we get to think about art professionally and that is truly a privilege.
How do you think the art world can become more transparent?
People need to be more honest and willing to talk to each other even if the conversation is a hard one to have.
Well Robert, thank you so much for participating in Frank Talks, it has been a delight to chat with you! To finish off, we’re curious: If you could own work by 5 different artists/craftspeople, who would be in your collection?
A sculpture by Marisol, a painting my Michalene Thomas ( I own a work on paper by her ) , a Nentendo work by Cory Arcangel, a sexy John Currin, and a Fred Sandback