Issue #79  11/1/2004
Helen Gee, Limelight Owner, Passes On

Gallery entrepreneur Helen Gee died on October 10th after a long illness. Gee opened the Limelight on Seventh Avenue South and Barrow Street in 1954. It is considered the first important post-war photography gallery, although strictly speaking it was a combination coffee house/gallery. In fact it was the espresso customers, often from the photography community, that kept the gallery solvent—at least for a while. Although this gallery closed in 1961, Gee continued her relationship with photography and the photographers, collectors, curators, fellow dealers and critics who had gathered there.

Limelight was also the title of Gee's 1997 memoir, which put the contemporary market in photography into perspective. At the time she was fortunate to get $25 for images that today often sell for tens of thousands. I remember the late Harry Lunn complaining about the fact that she had failed to mention him in her book, but then he still went out and bought 50 copies to give to his friends.