Broadway 1602, Celebrated Contemporary Art Gallery With a Cult Following, Files for Bankruptcy

The gallery is shutting its doors just one year after an ambitious expansion.

Broadway 1602 has filed for bankruptcy. Above, a view of the gallery and work by Xanti Schawinsky in 2014. (Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images)

Broadway 1602, the highly regarded New York contemporary art gallery, has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection and ceased operations. Over the past 12 years, the space became known for presenting pioneering work by women artists from the 1960s and ’70s who had previously been overlooked.

The gallery, which launched in 2005, quietly closed its doors in November, the gallery’s attorney Eric Snyder confirmed to artnet News, and filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this week.

“Although its founding director, Anke Kempkes, is saddened that the closing of the gallery space was necessitated by systemic changes to the art market over the past several years, she is looking forward to continuing Broadway 1602’s core mission and extending that work into new curatorial and collaborative projects,” Snyder said.

In 2016, Broadway 1602 became one of the first in a wave of galleries to open sprawling spaces in Harlem. Kempkes—a Cologne-born critic, scholar, and curator—took over a former firehouse on East 121st Street. She also operated a smaller space on the Upper East Side and ran a program for site-specific art projects called Broadway 1602 Outdoors. The gallery’s website is still active.

According to the Chapter 7 filing, the gallery’s revenue dropped to $601,600 in 2017, a dip of nearly 50 percent from 2016, when it recorded $1.18 million in revenue. The gallery listed total liabilities of just over $699,000. (The filing was first noted by Katya Kazakina on Twitter.)

The liabilities listed include several debts to artists and artists’ estates. The gallery owes relatives of the late Bauhaus artist Xanti Schawinsky, who it has represented since 2010, a total of $102,900. It owes Experiments in Art & Technology (E.A.T.), whose archive it represents, $38,250. Other creditors include the performance collective Composers Inside Electronics, Pop artist Idelle Weber, and various vendors.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most common form of bankruptcy. Asked if the gallery has any assets, including art, that it intends to liquidate to pay its creditors, Snyder told artnet News that “all consigned works have been returned to the artists and there is no art owned by the gallery to be liquidated.”

The gallery is one of a long string of mid-size spaces to shutter in recent years. Snyder noted that Broadway 1602’s closure came “after more than a decade of contributions to the recognition of avant-garde female artists through its program of research, scholarly cataloguing, publications, and institution-quality shows.”

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