Donald Droll

Donald Droll, 58, Dies; Art Dealer and Patron

Donald Droll, a curator, art patron and former dealer in New York City, died Sunday, apparently of a heart attack, at his home in Greensboro, N.C. He was 58 years old. For the last three years Mr. Droll had served as assistant director of the Wetherspoon Art Gallery of the University of North Carolina.

Mr. Droll was primarily interested in the work of the 1960′s and he championed a number of artists who first became known in that period, including the sculptors Eva Hesse and Tony Smith and the painter Robert Ryman. Two years ago, with Jane Necol, he organized a retrospective, ”Abstract Painting: 1960-69,” at P.S. 1 in Queens. As a collector, he gave many of the works he acquired to museums and other institutions.

Born in Chicago, Mr. Droll studied painting at Black Mountain College with Willem de Kooning and Josef Albers. He came to New York in the early 1950′s, and worked for several dealers, becoming director of the Fischbach Gallery in 1958 and an associate director at the Knoedler Art Gallery. Later, he established his own gallery, first in partnership with Xavier Fourcade and then with Frank Kolbert.

He also served from the late 1970′s to 1982 as president of the board of Artists’ Space, an alternative gallery where several well-known artists had their first shows, and he was a consultant to the Mark Rothko Foundation.

Mr. Droll is survived by his mother, Frances, and a brother, Philip, both of Detroit.