“Destination Galleries” Are the Latest Trend

Inside David Zwirner's townhouse gallery in London's Mayfair neighborhood. Image via David Zwirner Gallery.

A few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal was heralding the Upper East Side as the new “It” neighborhood for New York contemporary art galleries. Now, the New York Times reports that more and more dealers are setting up “destination” galleries—spaces that are just as unique and impressive as the art hanging on their walls. In order to keep up with the constant rush of the art fair calendar, dealers must, the article posits, “come up with compelling ways to coax wealthy collectors to pay their galleries a visit too,” and making the gallery itself a destination is one way to do that.

Who’s setting the trend? London-based dealer Daniel Katz has traded in his Bond Street space in exchange for a massive, five-story townhouse. David Zwirner‘s townhouse gallery, also in London, is currently holding a major, must-see exhibition of stripe paintings by Bridget Riley. And Thomas Bompard, who recently resigned as head of Impressionist and modern art at Sotheby’s Paris, has just opened Galerie Gradiva in a 17th-century mansion in Paris, opposite the Louvre.

Inside the new location of Daniel Katz Ltd at 6 Hill Street in London. Photo via Daniel Katz Ltd.

Inside the new location of Daniel Katz Ltd at 6 Hill Street in London.
Photo via Daniel Katz Ltd.

These lavish spaces are a far cry from the “white box” galleries that are so ubiquitous in Chelsea, and are instead reminiscent of an older generation of New York art dealers like Duveen, Durand-Ruel, and Wildenstein, who constructed “art palaces,” most of which are no longer in operation. Katz’s gallery director Stuart Lochhead said of their move: “A house feels more exclusive and private than standing around in a gallery. Someone would feel comfortable in a space like this after stepping off a G5 from Los Angeles.”

For the few very important people who keep the art market afloat, nothing is too over-the-top, and there is a constant craving to be in the presence of something truly special. “There’s so much happening in the art world and the competition is huge with fairs and auctions,” said Pilar Ordovas, another London dealer angling to rise above the crowd. “But if you can put on an exhibition that has an element of surprise, that tells you something new, then people will come to see you.”

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