Since the 1990s, the Chelsea gallery scene has been synonymous with the New York art world, even though numerous other neighborhoods (the Upper East Side, the Lower East Side, Midtown and Soho, as well as parts of Brooklyn and Queens such as Bushwick and Long Island City) play host to NYC’s myriad art galleries. Even so, Chelsea remains the largest such district with scores of spaces to traipse through—including the flagship outposts of global mega-dealers Larry Gagosian and David Zwirner. Occupying roughly ten blocks straddling Tenth and Eleventh Avenues from 18th to 28th Streets, Chelsea was once home to hundreds of garages and warehouses. This industrial heritage is reflected in gallery interiors that tend to be large and generally free of columns, a combination that encourages extremely ambitious installations like those by the sculptor Richard Serra. This propensity for enormous art has drawn criticism in recent years, but in any case, Chelsea has seen it star dimmed somewhat thanks to an invasion of starchitect-designed residential buildings, and rising rents that have driven many galleries to other parts of town. Still, if you want to see tons of contemporary art, Chelsea is the one-stop-shopping place to be. To help find your way around, check out our select list of the best Chelsea art galleries.
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Best Chelsea art galleries
Founded in Soho in 1996, Marianne Boesky Gallery migrated to Chelsea in 2005, taking up an elegant purpose-built space right next to the High Line. After opening and closing venues on both the Upper and Lower East Side, Boesky re-consolidated her operation at her Chelsea shop, adding an annex—Boesky East—next door. She also operates a space in Aspen, Colorado. Throughout her career, Boesky has exhibited a mix of established, mid-career and emerging artists that includes such high-profile names as Frank Stella and John Waters.
Ricco/Maresca has been championing the cause of self-taught artists (be they outsiders, visionaries or folk practitioners) since 1979 when it originally opened in Soho. In 1997, the gallery decamped for Chelsea, where it has continued its mission of the promoting such figures as Henry Darger, William Hawkins and Martín Ramírez, while also presenting the work of formally-educated contemporary artists.
This blue-chip, ground-level Chelsea space represents a number of artists who were at the front lines of groundbreaking performance art in that movement's heyday, including Yoko Ono and Ana Mendieta. Emilio Perez, Jaume Plensa, Sean Scully, Kate Shepherd and Ursula von Rydingsvard are just a few of the others names that show here.
Formerly co-owner and director of Gary Snyder Gallery, Garth Greenan bought out Snyder and assumed sole proprietorship of this contemporary art gallery in 2013. Greenan’s passion is for artists who've been underappreciated or otherwise overlooked by the art world.
Founded in 2008 by art patron Glenn Fuhrman, this Chelsea nonprofit specializes in curated group shows of established and emerging contemporary artists, and is located in an expansive two-floor facility in the ritzy Chelsea Arts Tower. Besides thematic exhibits, FLAG has featured solo surveys of Ellsworth Kelly, Ashley Bickerton and Richard Pettibone.
Legendary dealer Paula Cooper opened the very first gallery in Soho back in 1968, when it was still a scruffy neighborhood where artists lived and worked. Cooper was among the first dealers to champion Minimalism and Conceptual Art, mounting historically important early shows by Donald Judd and Carl Andre, among others. By the 1990s, the artists in Soho were gone, and so, too, was Copper, who decamped to Chelsea—one of the first dealers to open there, making her once again a pioneer of a gallery distict. Since then, she's built an impressive art temple that showcases the talents of artists such as Christian Marclay, Tauba Auerbach and Sophie Calle.
Located within throwing distance of the High Line, this Chelsea space opened in 2006, and showcases midcareer talents who first emerged during the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. Among the artists who show there, you’ll find veterans such as Polly Apfelbaum, Joan Semmel and Luis Camnitzer.
A Dublin-born dealer who previously worked for both Larry Gagosian and Michael Werner, McCaffrey opened his own shop on the Upper East side in 2006 before relocating eight years later to a two-floor space in the shadow of the High Line. While the gallery specializes in modern and contemporary Japanese artists, including figures associated with Japan’s avante-gard Gutai ground of the 1960s, its roster also features American artists such as sculptor Barry X Ball and Minimalist painter Marcia Hafif.
Partners Lucy Mitchell-Innes and David Nash started their gallery uptown in 1996 after working in high-powered positions at Sotheby's auction house. The space quickly established a reputation for mounting high-quality exhibits of modern and postwar masters. In 2005, the couple opened a Chelsea branch, which focuses on contemporary artists.
Founded in 1994, Petzel Gallery represents some of the brightest stars on the international scene, so you can count on some intriguing shows. Sculptor Keith Edmier, photographer Dana Hoey, painter and filmmaker Sarah Morris, and installation artists Jorge Pardo and Philippe Parreno are just some of the names on the gallery’s high-powered roster.
Sikkema Jenkins & Co. is a midsize powerhouse of a Chelsea gallery, featuring a number of art stars—most notably Kara Walker, Vik Muniz and MacArthur grant recipient Mark Bradford—in its stable of painters, photographers and installation artists. The artists here share what might be called a figurative or narrative bent, strained through a quasi-Conceptual sensibility, and they are all well served by the gallery's elegantly proportioned exhibition spaces.
Metro Pictures is best known for representing art-world superstar Cindy Sherman, along with such big contemporary names as multimedia artist Mike Kelley, Robert Longo—famous for his works produced using photography and charcoal—and the late German artist Martin Kippenberger.
A mainstay of Chelsea (and before that the Soho and East Village scenes of the late 1980s and early 1990s), this gallery actually got its start in an offbeat location: the Park Avenue South apartment of principal Lisa Spellman (hence the name; it's her old address). Over the years, 303 has fostered the careers of critically acclaimed artists working in a variety of media—among them photographers Thomas Demand and Stephen Shore and painters Inka Essenhigh, Mary Heilmann and Karen Kilimnik.
This swank, blue-chip Chelsea gallery opened September 1999 with an inaugural exhibition of early photo pieces by Gilbert & George. It's maintained a similar focus on international contemporary art ever since, with a stable divided between established and emerging artists—including the Estate of Lee Mullican, Richard Long, Yinka Shonibare MBE, Fred Tomaselli and Bill Viola.
This gallery left its Rem Koolhaas–designed loft in Soho for new Koolhaas-designed digs in an old Chelsea garage. Epic exhibitions feature hip Americans and Europeans, including Teresita Fernández, Do-Ho Suh, Kutlug Ataman and Tracy Emin.
Larry Gagosian’s mammoth (20,000-square-foot) contribution to 24th Street’s top-level galleries was launched in 1999 with a thrilling Richard Serra show. Follow-up exhibitions have featured works by Ellen Gallagher, Damien Hirst, Anselm Kiefer, Ed Ruscha, Julian Schnabel and Andy Warhol.
German expatriate David Zwirner mixes museum-quality shows of historical figures and movements (Dan Flavin; West Coast Minimalism) with a head-turning array of international contemporary artists that includes such luminaries as Marcel Dzama, Luc Tuymans, Chris Ofili, Neo Rauch and Lisa Yuskavage.
Gladstone is strictly blue-chip, with a heavy emphasis on the Conceptual, the philosophical and the daring. Matthew Barney, Richard Prince, Anish Kapoor and Rosemarie Trockel show here.
This is downtown location for the powerhouse international gallery serves as a transistional, temporary space.
In a space designed by artist Robert Irwin, this welcoming branch of the famous midtown gallery houses grand-scale shows by big-time contemporaries, including Georg Baselitz, Chuck Close, Alex Katz, Sol LeWitt, Elizabeth Murray and Kiki Smith.
This gallery is worth a visit just for its wonderful light and spectacular bird’s-eye city view. Greene Naftali has a reputation for hosting potent rock-’em-sock-’em Conceptualist group shows.
Designed by the area’s architect of choice, Richard Gluckman, this cool gallery features work from an impressive index of artists that includes Briton Rachel Whiteread; Swiss video star Pipilotti Rist; Japanese photo artist Yasumasa Morimura; and Americans Janine Antoni, Larry Clark and Christopher Wool.
The Matthew Marks gallery was a driving force behind Chelsea’s transformation into an art destination, and it remains one of the neighborhood’s biggest draws; its 9,000-square-foot, two-story locale has a second-floor public gallery. Marks showcases Nan Goldin, Andreas Gursky, Ellsworth Kelly, Willem de Kooning, Brice Marden and Ugo Rondinone.
London’s Lisson Gallery has been one of the world’s leading showcases for contemporary art since 1967. Numerous bold-face names-Ai Wei Wei, Marina Abramović and Sol LeWitt, to name a few—have shown with Lisson over the years.
While this elegant Chelsea space doesn't quite match the footprint of supergalleries like Gagosian or Zwirner, it does include some powerhouse names on its roster of artists, such as Uta Barth, Ernesto Neto and New York City Waterfalls maestro Olafur Eliasson.
Established contemporary artists as well as such blue-chip heavy-hitters as Morris Louis, Robert Indiana and Robert Motherwell are the specialty of this Chelsea mainstay.
This international group of established contemporary artists includes such superstars as Diane Arbus, Jenny Holzer, Milton Resnick and Pat Steir. The practices showcased here include painting, drawing, sculpture and photography; a number of individuals on the gallery's roster are venerable New Yorkers.
Susan Inglett works with midcareer to established artists, creating context for their work through historical and group exhibitions. Gallery artists have appeared in recent Venice and Whitney Biennials and on a variety of international platforms. Artists include the Bruce High Quality Foundation, Luca Buvoli, Sarah Charlesworth, Bruce Conner, Eric Fertman, Hope Gangloff, George Herms, Shaun O’Dell, Eli Ping, Greg Smith and William Villalongo. In addition, the gallery produces prints and multiples as I.C. Editions, Inc., publishing work by Barbara Bloom, Allan McCollum, Paul Noble, Catherine Opie, Richard Prince and Andrea Zittel. among others. Susan Inglett is founder and co-organizer of the Editions/Artists Book Fair, established in 1997.
Representing established and midcareer artists, this gallery has a strong reputation for supporting work based in installation and performance; Laurie Anderson and Iran do Espírito Santo are a couple of the notable talents here.
The history of this gallery stretches all the way back to 1946 when two Austrian emigrés, Frank Lloyd and Harry Fischer, founded Marlborough in London as an antiquarian book shop that also exhibited art. It originally concentrated on exhbiting works by Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, but by the 1960s, it had transformed into a powerhouse dealer of postwar and contemporary art. This space is one of two Marlborough locations in New York, along with another in London’s Mayfair.
After the break-up of a 20-year partnership with fellow dealer Lea Freid in 2015, Jane Lombard struck out on her own with a gallery at the same Chelsea address as the her joint venture with Freid. Started out in Soho in 1995, their original endeavor had been one of the first NYC galleries to exhibit artist from Asia and the Middle East, a legacy reflected in Lombard’s current line-up of emerging and mid-career talents.
This 9,000-square-foot space devoted to emerging artists is located on Chelsea’s West 24th Street drag, and is the brainchild of Turkish Internet mogul and art collector Emre Kurttepeli, who opened the place in late 2011 with help from partners Mel Dogan and Erkut Soyak.
According to the gallery itself, “uniqueness, integrity and authenticity” are the qualities that have its defined its program over 30 years of operation. With a particular focus on exhibitions of self-taught and visionary artists, Cavin-Morris has also mounted shows by contemporary ceramicists and has presented indigenous artworks from Africa, Asia, the South Pacific and the Americas.
With a resume that includes artist, writer and curator, Asya Geisberg got on the dealer track in 2010 when she opened her namesake space. Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, Geisberg emigrated to the U.S. in 1977. As for her gallery, it’s been called “visually eclectic and conceptually focused,” a description born out by a roster of artists that includes Guðmundur Thoroddsen, Ricardo Gonzalez and Rebecca Morgan.
Casey Kaplan has been in operation since 1995, starting in a modest 500-square-foot located on an upper floor of a cast iron Soho loft building on Broadway. Today the gallery occupies a 5,000 square-foot street level venue in Chelsea that contains three separate exhibition spaces. Over the past 15 years the gallery and its artists have grown in parallel, with the core of the gallery artists—Jeff Burton, Miles Coolidge, Jason Dodge, Pamela Fraser, Jonathan Monk—remaining intact. These artists and others have become part of an international dialogue, regularly participating in international Biennales, achieving retrospectives at major museums, and in one case, winning a Turner Prize. Another significant aspect of the gallery is its nearly annual, guest-curated group exhibition. The gallery is also one of the founders of an important new initiative, New York Gallery Week, an annual series of art events in the spring.
Penny Pilkington and Wendy Olsoff originally opened the gallery that bears their initials back in 1983 in the East Village at a time when the neighborhood hosted a raucous gallery scene. By the end of the decade the scene was effectively dead, so in 1988, P.P.O.W. moved to Soho. In 2002, it moved again, this time to Chelsea, where it has remained as an art-world staple, showing the work of such artists as feminist performance-art pioneer Carolee Schneemann among others.
Distinguished by its street-level entrance trimmed in a jazzy combination of yellow and black, David Nolan Gallery has been a Chelsea mainstay for more than 20 years and a going concern for more than 30. When he initially opened in 1987, Nolan focused primarily on contemporary works on paper by American and European artists, but eventually expanded his program to include works in other mediums like painting, photography and sculpture. The gallery represents such contemporary artists as Mel Kendrick, Alice Maher and Steve DiBenedetto as well as the estates of Richard Artschwager and George Grosz.