Koenig & Clinton Gallery Explains Why It Is Leaving Chelsea for Brooklyn

The answer? Taxes.

Partners Maggie Liu Clinton and Leo Koenig. Photo: Film still via YouTube.

After 17 years in Manhattan, Koenig & Clinton is the latest gallery to flee Chelsea, announcing that it will relocate to Brooklyn.

In an email sent on Saturday the gallery said it would conclude its exhibition program at its current space at 459 West 19th Street before reopening in a former steel shop at 1329 Willoughby Avenue in Bushwick, close to the site where dealer Leo Koenig opened his first space in 1999.

The property taxes increased significantly over the last few years,” partner Margaret Liu Clinton told artnet News over the telephone. “I would imagine that several relocations that we’ve all seen over the past two years have resulted, in part, because of the new real estate developments situated around the High Line.”

1329 Willoughby Ave. Photo: Google Maps.

1329 Willoughby Ave. Photo: Google Maps.

According to Clinton, a year-long search for an alternative home in Manhattan proved fruitless, so Clinton and partner Leo Koenig ultimately decided to follow the artists to Brooklyn.

“Manhattan is prohibitively expensive for artists and just about everyone working in the creative industries,” she said. “Within the longer history of New York galleries there have been many migrations, but right now it feels as though the galleries are further away from artists than they’ve ever been. When deciding between neighborhoods for the relocation it was really important for me and for Leo to be closer to the artists. We are committed to making exhibitions and we want to support artists at multiple phases of their careers.”

Designed by Casey Mack of Popular Architecture, new 4,000-square-foot space will house both Koenig & Clinton and a new venture, Century Pictures, which Clinton described as a project space focusing on artists that the gallery doesn’t represent. The latter will be run independently by Koenig.

Construction at Koenig & Clinton’s new Bushwick space. Photo courtesy of Koenig & Clinton.

Whilst galleries such as Bortolami, Anton Kern, and Andrea Rosen have all recently left Chelsea for other parts or closed, in recent years Bushwick has matured into somewhat of an arts hub, with galleries such as Luhring Augustine and CLEARING, as well as popular artist run spaces such as Underdonk, SIGNAL, and Orgy Park flourishing in the area. The neighborhood is also home to a large number of artists’ studios.

“We wanted more space for our money and if you take that practical consideration and overlap it with geographical consideration about where most of the artists that we represent already live, the priorities become pretty clear,” Clinton explained. “It’s not that Bushwick is terribly affordable for both live and work spaces, Bushwick is already pricey, but there are so many different contingencies that have already formed and that potential for dialogue is important to us.”

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