Lisson Gallery Closes Milan Space After Six Years

While other international galleries keep opening Italy outposts, Lisson has decided to focus on London and New York.

Installation view of Spencer Finch’s exhibition at Lisson Gallery Milan, the last in the space. Courtesy Lisson Gallery.
Installation view of Spencer Finch’s exhibition at Lisson Gallery Milan, the last in the space. Courtesy Lisson Gallery.

Lisson Gallery—a staple of the London gallery scene representing blue-chip artists like Marina Abramović, Ai Weiwei, and Anish Kapoor—has closed its Milan space, which it launched in 2011. Its final exhibition, devoted to the American artist Spencer Finch, ended on May 19.

The gallery is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, a milestone that seems to have prompted some important changes to its structure. This past March, it launched a second space in New York, complementing the location opened in May 2016 near the High Line as well as its two London galleries.

With its New York expansion well under way, the Milan branch—its first outpost—didn’t feel like a priority anymore.

The gallery has not made an official announcement about the closure, but confirmed the news in a statement sent to artnet News:

As the lease to our building in Milan comes to a close, and after six successful years, we have decided not to renew our lease and focus instead on our two locations in London and our two new galleries in New York, alongside increased activities worldwide.

2017 is a particularly important year for the gallery, as it celebrates 50 years of working with artists and making exhibitions. From its outset in 1967, the gallery has been international in its outlook. This decision has been difficult but one we feel reflects the future goals of the gallery.

The rationale for Milan was to have an external project space, offering artists more opportunities while expanding our reach, developing systems to work internationally and honing our global expertise. Our new exhibition space at 138 Tenth Avenue New York, as well as our location at 504 W 24th Street, presents new opportunities to show experimental work in fresh and innovative ways.

Our artists are at the heart of what we do, and we will always strive to provide challenging and interesting experiences for them within our program worldwide.

When Lisson opened in Milan in 2011 it seemed like a daring move, being the first top international gallery to set up shop in Italy since Gagosian opened in Rome in 2007.

Façade of Lisson’s Milan space. Courtesy Lisson Gallery.

Façade of Lisson’s Milan space. Courtesy Lisson Gallery.

But the trend hasn’t stopped since. In 2015, for example, both New York’s Gavin Brown and Vienna’s Emanuel Layr expanded to Rome. Last month, coinciding with the preview week of 57th edition of the Venice Biennale, Victoria Miro from London and Alberta Pane from Paris opened outposts in Venice. Meanwhile, early next year, the London-based gallery Thomas Dane will open a space in Naples.

But, despite the slew of international galleries that keep popping up all across Italy, it seems that Lisson’s bold bet on the Italian market has reached its natural conclusion.


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