New York’s art scene—which these days spreads through the Lower East Side, Uptown and Chelsea galleries—is ever-shifting: Art hotspots rise and fall as increasing rents force venues to move around town to find the most space for their money. Young dealers opening their first galleries pioneer neighborhoods that had hitherto been untouched by the art world. Then there are those galleries that gravitate to peripheral locations—drawn, of course, by getting the best price per square foot, but also by the relative peace and quiet afforded by avoiding the art walks around Chelsea on a Saturday. That sense of serenity—and great art—are just a couple of the reasons to check out our list of the best galleries in Soho, Tribeca and the West Village.
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Best galleries in Soho
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
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
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.
Dealer Michele Maccarone founded her namesake gallery in 2001 after a stint as gallery director at Luhring Augustine. Considered to be both outspoken and an activist for artists, Maccarone has grown her business from a storefront location on Canal Street to 8,000 square feet of exhibition space split between two addresses in the same building on the corner of Greenwich and Morton Streets in the West Village; she has an even larger branch in Los Angeles. Her list of artists consist of a mix of such young and mid-career names as Carol Bove, Nate Lowman and Oscar Tuazon.
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.