A Hard Look at the Tumultuous New York Gallery Scene, as Dealers Shutter and Move

Plus, White Columns stages its much-loved annual benefit auction, and a big-league artist hosts an epic birthday bash.

Digital collage by Elvin Tavarez.

Every week, Artnet News brings you Wet Paint, a gossip column of original scoops. But this week, our pavement-pounding columnist is doing something a bit different, taking a look at the state of play in the New York gallery scene at a moment of change and turmoil.


In the New York art world right now, gallery closures are the only thing that people want to talk about. It makes for grim cocktail conversation, but it makes sense: Last week, to the surprise of many, David Lewis said he would be closing his doors for good at the conclusion of his current group exhibition, “Everyone Loves Picabia.” (It would be a run-don’t-walk kind of show even if he wasn’t shuttering, with a great Kippenberger. Don’t miss it.)

From where I stand (as someone whose employment certainly benefits from a healthy market), the outlook looks a bit rough. Since August 2023, at least 13 galleries with New York presences have gone out of business, and seven have already closed this year. Just how much has the scene changed? And what is causing the shifts? To get a sense of where things stand, I started researching. Let’s dive in.

First, here are the closures:

JTT – August 2023, after 11 years in business.
Malin Gallery – August 2023, eight years in business.
Foxy Production – September 2023, 20 years in business.
Queer Thoughts – September 2023, 11 years in business.
Denny Gallery – October 2023, 10 years in business.
Cheim & Read – December 2023, 26 years in business.
Washburn Gallery – January 2024, 53 years in business.
​​Alexander & Bonin – January 2024, 28 years in business.
Helena Anrather – March 2024, seven years in business.
Fortnight Institute – April 2024, eight years in business.
Betty Cunningham Gallery – April 2024, 20 years in business.
Marlborough Gallery – June 2024, 78 years in business.
David Lewis Gallery – July 2024, 11 years in business. 

Though there are some outliers on that list, there is a clear trend of galleries calling it quits after about a decade. Why is that the lifespan of so many? I asked around, and a few ideas kept coming up.

For one thing, after around 10 years, successful dealers have typically had a couple artists develop big followings, but as they aim to maintain momentum, trouble can arrive. Prices need to rise with each solo show an artist does, but the gallery’s clients may not be able to afford those prices, or if they can, they move along—with the hot artist—to spend their cash at a larger gallery.

One prominent Los Angeles–based dealer I spoke with also noted the particular trajectory that the art market and the broader economy have taken over the last decade. Dealers who opened in 2014 enjoyed the boom that followed the 2008 economic crisis, as well as an explosion of interest in emerging art during the pandemic. “Times are hard now,” the dealer said, “so we’re seeing who really wants to be doing this, versus who got into it because it felt like an easy thing to do.”  

Josh Baer, who ran an eponymous gallery for a clean decade, from 1985 to 1994, said that trouble often starts a few years before the end. “If you’re struggling either personally or financially, you probably give it a couple of extra years to see if it goes better,” he told me.

The standard way that the gallery model functions hurts younger enterprises, as Baer sees it. “You still have to do nine fairs and the same number of shows, plus staffing,” he said. “There’s nothing being changed in the model yet to make it a more efficient business.”

But you know that I am a glass-half-full type of person, so I also want to note that we have seen a number of young and mid-career galleries taking inventive measures to weather the tougher climate. For one, smaller dealers are partnering with megas to share representation of hot artists. The practice is not uncontroversial—and it remains to be seen just how equitable and enduring these arrangements are—but the past two years have witnessed: 

Andrew Kreps co-represent Raymond Saunders with David Zwirner
Nicola Vassell Gallery co-rep Uman with Hauser & Wirth
Company Gallery co-rep Ambera Wellmann with Hauser & Wirth
David Kordansky co-rep Lauren Halsey with Gagosian
Château Shatto co-rep Emma McIntyre with David Zwirner
Mennour, 303 Gallery, and i8 Gallery co-rep Alicja Kwade with Pace

And even as some once-promising galleries have been turning off their lights for the last time, there have been signs of growth, with a new generation of dealers entering the fold. Startups include Sara’s Worldwide, Micki Meng, GEMS, and Elliot Templeton Fine Arts. Some have hybridized their gallery model with an advising side hustle, or, in the case of Jack Pierson’s Elliot Templeton, an art practice. Many have opted to lease somewhat out-of-the-way places.

Meanwhile, on the higher end, New York has become fertile ground for out-of-towners looking to open a new branch. Since the start of 2023, the following businesses have arrived:

Goodman Gallery, which has locations in Cape Town, Johannesburg, London
*Nino Mier Gallery, Los Angeles (though he’s closing there soon), Brussels
*Matthew Brown Gallery, Los Angeles
Richard Saltoun Gallery, London, Rome
*JDJ, Garrison, New York
*Ruttkowski;68, Paris, Dusseldorf, Cologne
*Stephen Friedman, London
Nicodim, Los Angeles
White Cube, London, Seoul, Hong Kong, Paris, Seoul
*Anat Ebgi, Los Angeles
David Kordansky, Los Angeles
*indicates the gallery opened in Tribeca

The energy coming from L.A. to New York continues to excite, and several smaller outfits from Tinseltown have been trying out Manhattan lately: Spy Projects just wrapped a buzzed-about show in SoHo, Parker Gallery combined forces with Micki Meng to bring over a Golden Coast-heavy group last year, and Sebastian Gladstone is planning a pop-up this fall.

The recent closures have come amid the rise of Tribeca as a key hub for commercial galleries. (Five of the recent transplants have settled there, as I noted above.) As some people have mentioned to me recently, a gallery migration has accompanied closures in the past: about a decade ago, when a number of dealers were decamping from Chelsea for Uptown and Downtown Manhattan, some of their peers were shutting down, as was noted by Robin Pogrebin in the New York Times back in 2017. “What is widening the divide?” Pogrebin wrote. “High-priced real estate in gallery neighborhoods like Chelsea, and the proliferation of expensive art fairs, where collectors now do most of their browsing and buying.”

A sign reads "We moved to Tribeca like everyone else"

Courtesy of Harkawik.

Since 2023, here are the New York galleries who have made the move to Tribeca: 

Alexander Gray from Chelsea
Marian Goodman from Midtown
Lio Malca from Chelsea
James Fuentes from the Lower East Side
Harkawik from the Lower East Side
Blum from the Upper East Side
Shrine Gallery from Chinatown
Almine Rech from the Upper East Side
Timothy Taylor from Chelsea

The big changes are not confined to New York, of course. Clearing just cut ties with its Brussels space, and Perrotin recently withdrew from its partnership with a secondary market venture in Paris, but in gallery-packed Manhattan, the shifts have been especially intense.

Will there be more closures, and more big changes? Even as the season is coming to a close here, I do not anticipate things slowing down. Hang on to your hats.


For my readers who are critics: Mega-collector and proud New York Mets owner Steven Cohen is looking for feedback on the merchandise Joel Mesler created for the team… A$AP Rocky recently paid a visit to Leelee Kimmel’s show in New York at Almine Rech… Keep an eye out for paintings by Jay Miriam in the new season of Hacks… Artist Rashid Johnson rented out The Pool section of The Grill for the birthday of his wife, artist Sheree Hovsepian, and even serenaded her Frank Sinatra-style for what must be the most enviable birthday party I’ve seen in a while… Painter Sarah Slappey has parted ways with her New York gallery, Sargent’s Daughter… According to the biting Instagram page @marfamemes, Rick Rubin has burned down yet another property in West TexasIlona Staller, aka Cicciolina, aka the Italian politician who was once Jeff Koons wife and muse, is resurfacing this weekend in Rome for a rare performance of uncertain substance (tipsters in the Eternal City, please keep me posted!)…



Photo by Annie Armstrong.

Last night in New York, the alternative space White Columns hosted its beloved annual benefit auction, and the mood in the air was especially buoyant, since just an hour before its start, former president Donald J. Trump was found guilty on 34 felony counts by a jury of his peers. “It’s an auspicious evening in our lives, and an evening where we’ll all remember where we were!” the space’s director, Matthew Higgs, said.

Among those on hand for the auspicious evening on Horatio Street were artists Dustin Yellin and Cindy Sherman, writers Jerry Saltz and Linda Yablonsky, dealer Tara Downs, and the Drawing Center’s director, Laura Hoptman, among many others. The optimistic mood led to spirited auctions—both silent and live, led by Higgs himself. In the latter, a piece by Calvin Marcus sold for $15,000, a Huma Babha sculpture sold for $20,000, and a painting by Denzil Forrester sold for $37,000.

After a shaky auction season in New York earlier this month, the scene at White Columns was both a palette cleanser and an unofficial kickoff event for summer. Art Basel, big group shows, and the beach await, but I will still see you here next week.

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