When New Yorkers think of which neighborhood they should head to for an art walk, they usually think of Chelsea. While new gallery districts have sprung up in recent years in Brooklyn and on the Lower East Side, Chelsea remains home to one of the largest concentration of galleries in the world. So whether you're a casual gallery-goer or a dedicated connoisseur, Chelsea is still the place where you can catch up on the latest and best of what's happening in the art world.
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Best Chelsea art galleries
This mid-size contemporary art space has been a fixture on the Chelsea scene since 1996, which is when the neighborhood first took off as a gallery district. Dealer Andrew Kreps remains focused on introducing emerging talents, though some of the artists on his roster have shown with him since the beginning, making them more midcareer at this point. Nontheless Kreps's stable—which includes Ricci Albenda, Roe Ethridge, Robert Melee and Ruth Root—is nothing if not adventurous.
Jack Shainman Gallery transplanted to New York from Washington, D.C., back in 1984, at the height of the ’80s East Village gallery scene. Like many venues dating to that era, Shainman subsequently moved to Soho, before alighting in Chelsea in 1997. It's always maintained a consequently high level of quality, representing artists such as Kerry James Marshall, Odili Donald Odita and Nick Cave—among many others—over the years. Currently, it has two Chelsea locations, this one and another at 524 W 24th St.
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.
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.
Mary Boone made her name repping Julian Schnabel, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Francesco Clemente at her Soho gallery in the ’80s. She later moved to midtown (see 57th Street) and, in 2000, added this sweeping space in Chelsea, showing established artists like Ross Bleckner, Barbara Kruger and Damian Loeb.
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.
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.
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.