Famous bookseller and significant L.A. art figure, Dagny Janss Corcoran, dies at 77

Dagny Corcoran, a dealer whose impact on the Los Angeles art scene was significant, passed away at the age of 77. Corcoran worked as the director of books and multiples at the Marian Goodman Gallery, which shared the news of her passing on Instagram.

“It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Dagny Corcoran,” read the post. “A force of the Los Angeles art scene, Dagny gained recognition for her entrepreneurship behind the independent bookstore Art Catalogues, specializing in current and out-of-print exhibition catalogs and publications on modern art, architecture, and photography.”

The gallery’s spokesman revealed that Corcoran had received a cancer diagnosis last spring.

In Los Angeles, it occasionally seems as though everyone has a tattoo. However, it can be said with some degree of certainty that no one in the city has a tattoo quite like the one Dagny Janss Corcoran had inked in a peculiar location, just beneath and outside her right knee.

The small image was inspired by “The 2000 Sculpture” (1992), a massive Minimalist floor installation made of 2,000 white plaster rods that, if set end to end, would span one kilometer. The tattoo, which is only a few inches long, is a simple polygonal linear outline of one rod. Since the site for Walter De Maria (1935–2013), who produced the sculpture, mixes flexible joinery with genuflection, placement beside her knee was appropriate.

For her friend and favorite artist, Walter De Maria, Corcoran painstakingly created a 65-page chronology for the exhibition catalog of “Walter De Maria: Boxes for Meaningless Work,” which just debuted at Houston’s Menil Collection.

A flashback of Dagny Janss Corcoran’s life.

She was exposed to the art world at a young age by her father, the real estate billionaire Edwin Janss Jr. of the Janss Investment Corp. At her famous family’s dinner parties, Corcoran was surrounded by the elite of the art world. She was a renowned modern art collector and close friends with artists like Robert Rauschenberg and Dennis Hopper.

James Corcoran, an art dealer, and Corcoran later got married. They separated later.

She became to be the center of the Los Angeles art world, giving lunches and dinners to the critics, curators, and artists she considered to be her closest friends. David Hockney, Edward, and Nancy Kienholz all used Corcoran as a model.

In addition to her captivating personality as a hostess, Corcoran went on to establish herself in the world of art books, starting with Art Catalogues. When the Pasadena Art Museum decided to discard its previous art catalogs, Art Catalogues was born. Corcoran ultimately spent $1000 on 750 books. These catalogs would serve as the foundation for her imposing bookshop.

Later, while still existing independently, Art Catalogues would join the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art, and in 2019, they established a cooperation with the Paris-based Cahiers d’art art book publisher.

Librairie Marian Goodman

Just one year ago, Marian Goodman Gallery recruited Dagny Corcoran to help grow its Paris-based bookstore, Librairie Marian Goodman.

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Corcoran was a bibliophile who didn’t hoard books but instead took great pleasure in learning everything she could about those that fell within her interest in Modern art and making them accessible to others. She treated individuals similarly. It’s a crucial combination that doesn’t occur frequently and will be sadly missed.

Her son Timmy is the one surviving her.

Dagny Janss Corcoran’s husband and children.

Dagny Janss was married once however, she had to part ways with her former husband James Corcoran. At the time of her death, she wasn’t married to anyone. Dagny leaves behind her beloved son Timmy.

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