Salon 94 Has Opened a Strikingly Beautiful New Headquarters in an Upper East Side Mansion—See Photos of the Historic Space Here
The gallery is opening with two shows, from Niki de Saint Phalle and Derrick Adams.
Just in time for the gradual reopening—we hope—of New York City’s art scene this spring comes a new addition to the gallery fray.
Salon 94 has opened a new headquarters in an historic, landmarked mansion on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, just steps away from the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum of Art on 89th Street.
Founder Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn bought the building in the summer of 2019 and hired architect Rafael Viñoly to do a massive, still ongoing overhaul. Built between 1913 and 1915 by architect Ogden Codman, the structure was originally owned by philanthropist Archer Huntington and his wife before it was donated to the nearby National Academy of Design in 1940.
“The building contains a lot of ideas,” Greenberg Rohatyn told Artnet News on a recent walkthrough of the space. “The construction was a lot about peeling back the layers in getting to the original building.”
The sprawling, 17,500-square-foot space retains many original elements, including herringbone floors and a sweeping spiral staircase. But Greenberg Rohatyn has also added many contemporary design elements, including a Phillipe Moulin chandelier, benches made of colorful nylon rope by Kwangho Lee, and limestone sconces by Max Lamb. Greenberg’s office, on the third floor, is home to a Gaetano Pesce table that has ballet slippers and a violin as legs. And she even hired artisan perfumer Haley Alexander Van Oosten to create a signature scent that wafts through the entrance and stairwell.
For its inaugural shows, spread across two and a half floors, Greenberg Rohatyn opted for two eye-catching presentations. One is “Joy Revolution,” curated by Fabienne Stephan, a wide-ranging exhibition of work by the influential French artist Niki de Saint Phalle, whose estate the gallery represents. The other, installed on the second floor, is a suite of portrait paintings by Derrick Adams that were inspired by the mannequin heads he sees in wig stores around his Brooklyn neighborhood, Bedford-Stuyvesant.
The first thing visitors see after walking through wooden front doors (which are replicas of Codman’s original doors), is a pair of Niki de Saint Phalle’s sculptures titled Guardian Lions, which feature dazzling mosaic patterns of rocks, glass, and tile.
“We wanted to start the show with a bang,” Greenberg Rohatyn said. Given that visitors are encouraged to climb on and interact with the sculptures, it’s not surprising that they’ve been a huge hit with children.
Greenberg Rohatyn said she has been working closely with the artist’s family foundation in California to put together a show that “focused on Niki as both an American artist and as a European artist,” she said. “She’s an artist whose greatest part of her career was based in Europe, but she grew up on the Upper East Side and she has all of this American attitude in terms of her activism, her ideas about civil rights, entertainment, and democracy. That all comes from her New York years, growing up here.”
The new building is already serving as inspiration for some of her artists, too. On her iPhone, Greenberg Rohatyn showed us a new animated video clip by artist Takeshi Murata, in which a wolf on a motorbike tears through the streets of the Upper East Side, racing past Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim rotunda before making a hard turn and landing in front of Salon 94’s stately new limestone facade.
“It’s a little bit punk. Of course, it doesn’t escape my mind that we’re on the Upper East Side,” she said. “We can still have fun.” (The gallery still operates a space downtown, in Freeman’s Alley.)
As wide-eyed visitors strolled around the galleries, Greenberg Rohatyn said she’s optimistic about the timing of the expansion. “To be able to open up in a moment where the city is just about to open up,” she said, “with this horrible year coming to a close, it feels great.”
Salon 94’s new gallery is located 3 East 89th Street. Visits are available by appointment.
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