Samuel M. Kootz officially opened the Kootz Gallery in 1945 in New York City. In 1953, he opened a satellite gallery in Provincetown, Massachusetts that closed one year later.
Samuel M. Kootz (1898-1982) received his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1921 and practiced law briefly before moving to New York City to accept a job as an advertising account executive. While still in law school, he began visiting New York art galleries and was particularly drawn to works by modern artists that were showing at the Stieglitz Gallery and the Charles Daniel Gallery. In 1930, he independently published his first book, Modern American Painters and began to regularly contribute articles on painting and photography to various periodicals, including The Times. In 1942, he curated an abstract expressionist showcase for Macy's and published New Frontiers in American Painting one year later. Kootz's second book was one of the first to examine the emerging abstract expressionist movement and marked the beginning of his full transition into the art world.
In 1944, Kootz resigned from his advertising job to represent Robert Motherwell and William Baziotes as a professional art dealer. He officially opened the Kootz Gallery opened in 1945 and showcased the work of both American and European abstract expressionists, including Hans Hofmann and Adolph Gottlieb. In 1946, during the Kootz Gallery's preparation for Pablo Picasso's first one man exhibition in America, Picasso became quite friendly with Kootz and his wife Jane. Upon the artist's suggestion, Kootz agreed to close his gallery and represent Picasso and his other artists as a private dealer. Although this was a successful venture, Kootz missed the structure of an office and decided to reopen his gallery on Madison Avenue in 1949. The gallery's first show at the new location was "The Intrasubjectives," a term Kootz had coined for abstract expressionists. The exhibition included four artists from his stable, William Baziotes, Robert Motherwell, Adolph Gottlieb, and Hans Hofmann, along with Jackson Pollock, Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Ad Reinhardt, Morris Graves, Mark Tobey, and Bradley Walker Tomlin.
In 1953, Kootz opened a satellite gallery in Provincetown, Massachusetts that was managed and operated by gallerist Nathan Halper. In 1954, they mutually agreed to dissolve their partnership and Kootz focused his energies on his New York gallery, which grew to include Herbert Ferber, David Hare, Philippe Hosiasson, Ibram Lassaw, Conrad Marca-Relli, Georges Mathieu, Raymond Parker, William Ronald, Gerard Schneider, Emil Schumacher, and Pierre Soulages.
A number of factors, including competition from new galleries, commoditization of art by investment collectors, and the public's interest in emerging pop art, influenced Kootz's decision to close his gallery in 1966.