To celebrate its 60th anniversary, I wrote a short history of the Brooklyn-based art supply company. In addition to company materials, I interviewed one of the founders and former owners, now in his seventies, as well as several longtime employees and customers.
After World War II, the focus of the art world shifted to New York City. Driven by artists such as Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollack, artwork became radically more abstract. As artists created a new visual language, Utrecht was there to supply materials for the new creative center of the world.
At the time, the art supply business was in its infancy, and New York painters were hungry for a larger selection of products. One was Brooklyn-based Norman Gulamerian, who was seeking affordable, quality linen for his painting. Unable to find any in the city, he and his brother Harold started buying directly from a textile plant in Belgium. An import business was started.
Their father suggested that they sell directly to studio artists and art schools. This proved to be a successful system, as young artists learned the craft of painting from established painters—echoing the tradition of apprentice and master artist.