By now, almost everyone knows that Manhattan’s gallery scene covers Chelsea, the Lower East Side and the Upper East. Less familiar is the fact that there are also galleries in Soho, Tribeca and the West Village. Indeed, Soho was once the epicenter of the New York art world until the 1990s brought a mass migration of spaces over to the Far West Side. Tribeca, meanwhile, has been luring more and more galleries with the promise of cheaper rents than Chelsea and more square footage than that available on the Lower East Side. And the West Village, of course, is NYC’s oldest bohemian enclave, with a history as an artist haven going back to the early 20th century if not before. The galleries in all of these neighborhoods are worth a visit, so if you’re looking for the ones you shouldn’t miss, here’s our guide to best galleries in Soho, Tribeca and the West Village.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to best art galleries in NYC
Best galleries in Soho
Jeffrey Deitch is an art-world impresario and former Director of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary known for his love of Street Art. Prior to his sojourn in LA, he was a dealer whose gallery, Deitch Projects, was known for promoting pop-culture-inspired work. After a stormy tenure at LA MoCA, Deitch returned to New York to work primarily as an art consultant, private dealer and independent curator. He reopened the old Deitch Projects space in Soho to accommodate occasional exhibits.
Italian and modern are the operative words for this space specializing in exhibitions of important, historical works by members of Italy’s 20th-century avant-garde. Visits have to be scheduled in advance and there is a $10 admission, but what you receive in return is the chance to get up close and personal with masterpieces by such greats as De Chirico and Morandi.
Founded in 1990, this gallery with locations in both New York and Paris specializes in historically important 19th- and 20-century artists with a particular focus on early Pop and Minimal works. The gallery also features a number of contemporary artists, among them David Adamo, Pedro Cabrita Reis and Matt Mullican.
José Freire relocated his gallery from Chelsea to this high-ceilinged Soho space in 2006, confirming that downtown is once again the place to be. The place showcases such hotshots as Web artist Cory Arcangel and photographer Ryan McGinley, and also represents more established artists, including minimalist installation-assemblagist Ross Knight. In 2014, the gallery expanded to Los Angeles.
As it names suggests, The Drawing Center is devoted to exhibiting and promoting works on paper, both historical and contemporary. A Soho stalwart since its founding in 1977, The Drawing Center is as much a museum as it is a gallery (there’s a five dollar admission), but its wooden floors and cast-iron columns are reminiscent of Soho’s glory days as a gallery district.
Best galleries in Tribeca
This gallery, originally founded by Stefania Bortolami and Amalia Dayan two former directors at Gagosian opened in 2005 and represents a rooster of mid-career, contemporary artists.
Founded in 1972, Artists Space is one of the city’s oldest alternative galleries. Over the years it has helped to launch the careers of such art stars as Cindy Sherman and Laurie Simmons, and continues to support up-and-coming talent.
Partners Carolyn Alexander and Ted Bonin launched their venture in 1995 and in the more than 20 years since migrated from Soho to Chelsea and then to their current location on Walker Street in Tribeca. They present shows of such mid-career artists as John Ahearn, Willie Cole and Mona Hatoum.
This gallery has always gone to the beat of its own drum, with a history going back more than 30 years to the heyday of the now-vanished East Village Gallery scene. After sojourns in Soho and Chelsea, the gallery landed on Franklin Street in Tribeca in 2013. But for all of its peregrinations, Postmasters has stuck to a program that doesn’t always go with the commercial flow. So-called net artists working online and political activists, make up part of a stable that includes veterans (David Diao; Wolfgang Staehle) and emerging artists (Nidaa Badwan; Austin Lee).
Best galleries in the West Village
Opened in 2015, this two-floor MePa hotspot situated in a 1849 Greek revival row house is an unlikely combination of bar/eatery, artisanal retail space and contemporary art gallery.
Dealer Amy Greenspon opened this space in 2010 with then partner Mitchell Algus, a dealer known for reviving the reputations of long-forgotten artists notable for their eccentric work. They subsequently parted company and Greenspon now runs the operation on her own, representing a stable of contemporary artists—Austé, E’wao Kagoshima and Emily Sundblad, to name a few—who display their own idiosyncrasies in a variety of ways.
The history of this non-profit art center stretches back to the artist paradise that was late-’60s, early-’70s Soho, where cheap rents and abundant loft space permitted ambitious, experimental work freed from the money-making constraints of the art market. 112 Workshop/112 Greene Street as it was originally known was founded in 1970 by artists Jeffrey Lew and Gordon Matta-Clark and set the template for alternative spaces across the country. Renamed White Columns nine years later, the gallery remained in Soho at various addresses until rising rents forced a move to the West Village in the 1990s. It’s been at its current location near the border of MePA since 1998 and continues its long-established mission of showcasing cutting-edge art.