Just how many art galleries are there in New York City? Some estimates put the number as high as 1,500. That’s a lot, but even if there were half that many, it would still represent the largest concentration of galleries in the world. You can find art galleries all over the town—including Brooklyn and Queens—but especially in Manhattan, where they are clustered in such neighborhoods as Chelsea, Chinatown, the Lower East Side, Midtown, Soho and the Upper East Side. In each of these areas, the galleries share similar architectural bones that shape the ambience of looking at art. Soho galleries, for instance, are carved out of old manufacturing lofts in 19th-century cast-iron buildings; in Chelsea, former garages and warehouses built of concrete provide the space. Uptown, elegant Gilded-Age townhouses and masionettes do the same. We have complete gallery guides by neighborhoods below, but if you’re in a hurry and want to know which galleries are cream of the crop, here are the ten must-visit venues you’ll find among the best art galleries in New York City.
Best art galleries in New York City
With 15 spaces around the world Larry Gagosian is the undisputed master of the gallery world. His mammoth (20,000-square-foot) contribution to 24th Street’s top-level galleries is the centerpiece of this empire. It was launched in 1999 with a mammouth Richard Serra installation. Since then, exhibitions have featured works by Ellen Gallagher, Damien Hirst, Anselm Kiefer, Ed Ruscha, Julian Schnabel, Andy Warhol and many other top-shelf names.
Since 1993, German expatriate David Zwirner has grown his gallery from a relatively modest space in Soho to a global powerhouse with locations in London and Hong, as well uptown and down. A purpose built gallery building on West 20th Street in Chelsea is dedicated to museum-quality shows of historical figures and movements, while his West 19th Street space hosts exhibitons by his roster of international contemporary artists, a group that includes such luminaries as Marcel Dzama, Luc Tuymans, Chris Ofili, Neo Rauch and Lisa Yuskavage. In 2017, he opened an additonal NYC venue on East 69th Street.
Gladstone Gallery is strictly blue-chip, focusing on such Conceptualist and daring talents as Matthew Barney, Sarah Lucas and Anish Kapoor. With two locations in Chelsea, another on the Upper East Side and a branch in Brussels, Belgium, Gladstone is a major art-world player.
This space with an all-caps name is the New York branch of a gallery in Brussels, Belgium, and like the home office, the Brooklyn shop focuses on contemporary art by an international roster of young emerging artists with up-to-the-minute sensibilities. The gallery recently added an Upper East Side location.
Dealer Jasmin Tsou, a veteran of Maccarone and Kimmerich galleries, as well as Karma, the West Village bookshop and gallery, started this LES showcase for emerging and under-appreciated artists in 2012 with money she raised at the NADA art fair in Miami where she'd mounted a small project booth. The success of the gallery since then has meant that its roster of artists (among them, Jamian Juliano-Villani, Cole Sayer and Becky Kolsrud) are no longer under-appreciated.
The term cutting-edge doesn’t have much meaning anymore, but if there was any gallery out there that you could say was still pushing the envelope, it would be 47 Canal. Run by artist Margaret Lee and her boyfriend Oliver Newton, the gallery originally opened on Canal Street around 2008 in a office kept by Lee as part of her day job managing Cindy Sherman’s studio. The gallery has since located to a second-floor location on Grand Street with a line-up of artists that includes Antoine Catala, Trevor Shimizu and Anicka Yi.
This well-established uptown gallery is the ultimate in blue-chip venues, one of the best in the city, offering museum-quality shows of Impressionist and modernist masters complimented by Beaux-Arts architectural details. A select group of contemporary artists are also on the roster, including Zeng Fanzhi, Damian Loeb and Enoc Perez.
Legendary German art dealer Michael Werner opened his New York gallery in 1990 under the direction of Gordon VeneKlasen. Michael Werner represents some of the most important artists of our time, including Marcel Broodthaers, James Lee Byars, Aaron Curry, Peter Doig, Thomas Houseago, Jörg Immendorff, Per Kirkeby, Eugène Leroy, Markus Lüpertz, A.R. Penck, Sigmar Polke and Don Van Vliet. In addition to contemporary American and European painting, sculpture and drawing, the gallery specializes in works by modern masters including Hans Arp, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Piero Manzoni, Francis Picabia and Kurt Schwitters. He's along partners in Chinatown venture: Tramps and Michael Werner
Formerly a partner in L&M Fine Art, Dominique Lévy opened her namesake gallery in 2013 in a tony three-floor space located in a former bank building on the Upper East Side. A the end of 2016, she partnered with Brett Gorvy, formerly Chairman and International Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art at Christie’s and renamed the gallery Lévy Gorvy. In addition to New York, Lévy Gorvy has a location in London.