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Photograph: Charles Benton

The best Lower East Side art galleries

See our picks for the best Lower East art galleries presenting the latest trends in painting, sculpture and more

By Howard Halle
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The first art galleries on the Lower East Side opened around the turn of the millennium, and since then, the neighborhood has become a go-to destination for gallery-goers, much as Chelsea is, except that the spaces on the LES, built out of former storefronts and upstairs lofts, are more moderately scaled than what you’d find in Chelsea. They also tend to feature younger, edgier artists, some of whom are showing for the first time. Overall, the LES gallery scene has a relaxed, funky vibe that’s well worth experiencing. But before you go, be sure to check out our guide to the best art galleries on the Lower East Side!

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to art galleries in NYC

Best Lower East Side galleries

Photograph: Courtesy Bodega

1. Bodega

Art Galleries Lower East Side

This gallery is a transplant to the Lower East Side from "the sixth borough"—i.e., Philadelphia—where it started in 2010 as an artist-run exhibition and performance space. The current venue is directed by two of the founders, Elyse Derosia and Eric Veit.

Photograph: Courtesy 33 Orchard

2. 33 Orchard

Art Galleries Lower East Side

This Lower East Side gallery, which opened in 2014, functions as a kind of alternative space, offering a venue for gallerists and curators with no home of their own to mount exhibitions of contemporary art.

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Jason Mandella

3. Chapter NY

Art Contemporary art Midtown West

Chapter NY is a contemporary art gallery located on the Lower East Side. Gallerist Nicole Russo opened the space on Henry Street in 2013; three years later it moved to its present address.

Photograph: Courtesy Derek Eller Gallery

4. Derek Eller Gallery

Art Galleries Lower East Side

Derek Eller Gallery opened in 1997 as one of the pioneering contemporary spaces in Chelsea. In 2016, Eller moved to his current Broome Street address. Longtime names on the gallery roster include Alyson Shotz, Dan Fischer and André Ethier.    

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Photograph: Courtesy Foxy Production

5. Foxy Production

Art Galleries Chinatown

Foxy Production called Brooklyn home when it was first opened by owners Michael Gillespe and John Thomson in 2003. After jumping to Chelsea in 2006, it relocated again in 2016 to its current space, which was designed by London–based architects Matheson Whiteley. Notable for its abundance of natural light (three of its walls have windows), the gallery reps such artists as Hany Armanious, Olga Chernysheva and Violet Hopkins

Photograph: Nicelle Beauchene Gallery

6. Nicelle Beauchene Gallery

Art Galleries Lower East Side

A veteran of the Chelsea gallery scene, Nicelle Beauchene opened her gallery in 2008 at a storefront location on Eldridge Street. Over the following decade, she moved first to Orchard Street, and then to her current Broome Street address in a bi-level space she shares with Jack Hanley Gallery. Her roster of twenty- and thirty-something artists includes Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, Jonathan Baldock and Alexander Tovborg.   

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7. Helena Anrather

Art Contemporary art Chinatown

A former director at Taymour Grahne Gallery Helena Anrather had also previously worked at Lehmann Maupin and Galerie Yvon Lambert. Her eponymous gallery on the Lower East Side features work by emerging and mid-career artists.

Photograph: Courtesy Bridget Donahue, NYC

8. Bridget Donahue

Art Galleries East Village

Formerly director at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, Bridget Donahue opened this contemporary art gallery in 2014. The gallery isn’t Donahue’s first: She was one of the four cofounders of Cleopatra’s in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

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Photograph: Courtesy Nathalie Karg

9. Nathalie Karg Gallery

Art Contemporary art Lower East Side

In 1996, Nathalie Karg co-founded Chelsea's Anton Kern Gallery, named for her husband whom she divorced in 2012. Two years later, she opened her own gallery in Noho before moving to the Lower East Side in 2015. She currently represens a stable of ten young and mid-career artists that includes Joe Andoe, Jessica Craig-Martin and Joe Fyfe.

Photograph: Courtesy Gavin Brown's Enterprise

10. Gavin Brown’s Enterprise

Art Contemporary art Lower East Side

Brown, whose program is known for edgy art, opened this location in 2014 in the neighborhood where edgy art abounds.

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Photograph: Charles Benton

11. Miguel Abreu Gallery

Art Galleries Lower East Side

A filmmaker as well as a founding member of the legendary (now closed) Thread Waxing alternative space in Soho, Miguel Abreu ventured into dealing in 2006. Hosting a highly intellectual series of performances, art-theory seminars and film screenings as well as exhibitions, the gallery represents conceptually inspired artists and is among the Lower East Side's top venues.

JTT
JTT
Photograph: Courtesy JTT

12. JTT

Art Galleries Lower East Side

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.

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Photograph: Joerg Lohse

13. 47 Canal

Art Galleries Lower East Side

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.

Sargent’s Daughters
Sargent’s Daughters
Photograph: Courtesy Sargent’s Daughters

14. Sargent’s Daughters

Art Galleries Two Bridges

This contemporary-art venue is a joint venture by dealers Allegra LaViola and Meredith Rosen, and takes its name from American painting legend John Singer Sargent—an artist who, according the gallerists, "was an innovator working in a traditional medium." Accordingly, the gallery focuses on emerging artists whose work combines the same qualities of tradition and cutting edge.

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Photograph: Courtesy Perrotin New York

15. Perrotin New York

Art Galleries Lower East Side

This is the New York branch for the powerhouse Parisian gallery opened in 1990 by namesake dealer Emmanuel Perrotin—who, among other things, gave YBA bad boy Damien Hirst his first-ever solo show in 1991. Perrotin originally opened a space on the Upper East Side in 2013, which he ran with Dominique Lévy until 2016, when their partnership dissolved and he decamped to an expansive new space on the Lower East Side. Since moving there, he's shown notable names such as Takashi Murakami and internationally renowned street artist, JR. In addtion to New York, Perrotin has galleries in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul and Tokyo.

Salon 94 Bowery
Salon 94 Bowery
Photograph: Courtesy Salon 94 Bowery

16. Salon 94 Bowery

Art Galleries Nolita

Located just a few doors from the New Museum, Salon 94 Bowery is the downtown incarnation of the Upper East Side gallery started by dealer Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn and husband Nicolas Rohatyn. The handsome below-street space accessed by a staircase just beyond the front door has surprisingly high ceilings, giving the room and expansive feel that serves the refined production values of gallery artists such as Huma Bhabha, Marilyn Minter and Laurie Simmons.

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Photograph: Courtesy Mitchell Algus

17. Mitchell Algus Gallery

Art Galleries Chelsea

Since the early 1990s, Mitchell Algus has occupied a unique niche in New York's art world as a gallerist dedicated to reviving the careers of overlooked or semiforgotten artists from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, some of whom—Betty Tompkins, Lee Lozano, Judith Berstein—have gone on to recieve exposure at major museums and big-name galleries. Remarkably, Algus supported his operation by teaching science at a Queens public high school until 2014, when he retired from teaching to pursue his passion for art full time. Since then, he's continued his mission of mainstreaming artists whose practices are underrecognized.

Photograph: Courtesy David Lewis Gallery

18. David Lewis Gallery

Art Galleries Lower East Side

Lewis a 38-year-old former art critic had originally been a partner with Balice Hertling gallery in Paris before setting out on his own with this LES venture. Set within a strip of funky storefronts, the gallery specializes in young emerging talent but also under known veterans worthy of a second look.

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Photograph: Courtesy Marc Straus Gallery

19. Marc Straus Gallery

Art Contemporary art Lower East Side

A former oncologist who co-founded of The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art in Peekskill, NY along with his wife, Livia, Marc Straus opened this contemporary art gallery on the Lower East Side in 2011 after spending 40 years as an art collector.

Shrine
Shrine
Photograph: Courtesy Shrine NYC

20. Shrine

Art Contemporary art Two Bridges

This space was opened in 2016 Scott Ogden, an artist who has shown with long-time Chelsea mainstay, Ricco/Maresca. The latter is known for it's blend of contemproary and self-taught artists, a mix Ogden continues in his own venture, which has established itself as an improtant showcase for Outsider Art.

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Photograph: Robert Vinas Jr.

21. Sperone Westwater

Art Galleries Nolita

This contemproary art gallery—started by Italian art dealer Gian Enzo Sperone, Angela Westwater and German art dealer Konrad Fischer—is as old-school as it gets, having opened in 1975 in Soho, back when artists actually lived there. The gallery shortened its name to Sperone Westwater in 1982, and in 2002 moved to West 13th Street in the Meatpacking District. Eight years later, the gallery moved to its current home, an eight-storey, purpose-built showcase designed by starchitects Foster + Partners. One innovative feature of the place: a moving exhibiton hall—actually a 12-by-20-by-13-foot elevator that can be connected to any one of the floors to extend the viewing space.

Photograph: Courtesy The Hole NYC

22. The Hole

Art Arts centers Noho

Kathy Grayson and Meghan Coleman, both former directors at Deitch Gallery, decided to open their own space in June 2010. Expect installation antics of the Deitch variety, as well as full-on blast of Dearraindrop aesthetics.

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Photograph: Courtesy Participant, Inc.

23. Participant, Inc.

Art Galleries Lower East Side

Since 2001, this non-profit organiziation has been mounting envelope-pushing exhibitions, first on Rivington Street, and, since 2007, in a storefront on East Houston Street. Site-specific installations, as well as video and film screenings, are all part of the program for this essential contemporary art space. 

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