The Most Admired Art Dealers of 2014
These art world tastemakers had a great year.
Who are the leading art dealers that made their mark in 2014? From maintaining top-flight exhibition rosters, and jetting around the world to set up carefully curated booths at international art fairs, or scouring far-flung studios and art schools for the next crop of talented artists, these dealers played a key role as art world tastemakers. We surveyed various dealers about who they most admired in 2014. We polled widely and cut it down to a short list of the top players. Though they are presented in no particular order, all of them had a great year and made ours more fun and interesting as well.
Since he inaugurated his first New York gallery in 1991, art-world nice guy Sean Kelly has presented some of the most provocative exhibitions in New York. The British-born dealer never shies away from challenging works. And he always goes an extra length for all the wacky ideas dreamed up by the brightest star in his stable, performance-art icon Marina Abramović. Remember when she sat in the gallery for days on end, scrubbing those bloody cow bones? And then she famously put herself on public view in the gallery 24 hours a day, seven days a week for The House with The Ocean View (2002). What other dealer would put up with that?
Regen Projects’ sprawling gallery space in an all-white building with large black block letters in East Hollywood is un-missable when you’re driving down Santa Monica Boulevard, and that’s a good thing. Under the leadership of founder Shaun Regen, the gallery is credited with spearheading the eastward migration of Los Angeles galleries from Bergamot Station and Culver City, having moved to the 21,000 square foot space after several West Hollywod spots since its founding in 1989. The gallery is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year with shows by Gillian Wearing and Sergej Jensen. Regen Projects also published a 25th anniversary catalogue with Prestel. In the past year, the gallery has mounted exhibitions by Liz Larner, Manfred Pernice, Elliott Hundley, Gabriel Kuri, Doug Aitken, and a joint show by Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin.
Mrs. Hyun-Sook Lee
Mrs. Hyun-Sook Lee, founder of Korea’s Kukje Gallery, was named one of artnet News’ 100 most influential women in 2014 and it’s not hard to see why. Lee was the subject of a recent lengthy profile in The Korea Herald that detailed how she has paved the way for some of the biggest names in Western art in Korea, including Louise Bourgeois, Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor, and Alexander Calder. “What I have done is small compared with those big art dealers, but I think people have recognized my role as an art dealer in Asia,” Lee said. Having opened her gallery in 1982 with a focus on work by modern Korean artists, she later turned to foreign artists as well, after she visited modern art exhibitions in the US in the late 1980s. Kukje, which means “international,” now operates three separate separate buildings named K1, K2 and K3, along with a restaurant and wine bar. The wide-ranging exhibition program in the past year featured work by Donald Judd, Julian Opie, Alexander Calder jewelry, and the art of Dansaekhwa.
Gallerist Luisa Strina, the first to open a contemporary gallery in the now thriving São Paulo art scene, celebrated her 40th anniversary this year, with numerous themed exhibitions, culminating in a group show entitled “Eu represento os artistas, Revisited,” that showcased the work of many artists she has represented over the years. Rather than a retrospective, the show is described as “a trajectory of the turning points in this history” of the gallery. It featured works by Antonio Dias, Cildo Meireles, Mira Schendel, Tunga, and Wesley Duke. All of the artists are or were at one time part of the program of the gallery. Strina, who served on the committee for Art Basel in Miami Beach for 12 years, credits international art fairs as a key factor in introducing Brazilian artists to a wider audience. In 2013-2014 the gallery signed new artists including Anna Maria Maiolino, Beto Shwafaty, and León Ferrari. Strina recently told the Financial Times: “When I started the gallery I didn’t even have a telephone. The changes I have seen in the market are unbelievable!”
As artnet News reported in September, London and Berlin-based Sprüth Magers is among the top-flight galleries opening a new Los Angeles outpost in 2015. It will be in West Hollywood on Wilshire Boulevard, directly across the street from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Under the leadership of Philomene Magers and Monika Sprüth, the past year’s vibrant program included shows of Andro Wekua, Thomas Scheibitz, Thomas Demand, Louise Lawler, and Fischli & Weiss.
As artnet News wrote earlier this year, Michele Maccarone has always been prescient. She founded her own gallery in 2001 at a space on Canal Street before the Lower East Side gallery boom, and in 2007 relocated to the West Village, which is home to a coterie of hip galleries like Gavin Brown’s Enterprise and Algus Greenspon. Next year, the gallery, which represents artists including Nate Lowman, Carol Bove, and Hanna Liden, will be opening its West Coast outpost on South Mission Road near the fast-growing downtown arts district. Highlights of this past year’s exhibition program included shows by Otto Muehl, Paul Lee, Scott Benzel, Liden and Sarah Charlesworth.
It’s good to be king, or, at least one of them, in the New York art world and beyond. Still commanding from headquarters at 980 Madison Avenue, “Go Go,” as he is known, shows the bluest of the blue chip artists, from Claude Monet and Picasso to Richard Prince, Takashi Murakami, and, yes, even musician Bob Dylan. In 2004, the year the first European Gagosian gallery opened in London (Rome, Athens, Paris, and Geneva would follow), he flew Henry and Marie-Josée Kravis down to Art Basel in Miami Beach on a chartered jet; then zoomed them back to New York after the preview. In 2010, the French government awarded him the Légion d’Honneur with the rank of Chevalier and the American Academy in Rome gave him the Rome Prize for Visual Arts. The man is partial to sushi (see “From Schnabel to Sashimi? Gagosian Opens Sushi Joint”) and, frankly, probably just runs on sheer determination. How else does one run galleries at four addresses in Manhattan? Somebody, please calculate this man’s worldwide square footage, both in real estate and in, say, works on canvas.
Lévy, a power dealer frequently seen bidding on seven- and eight- figure works at major Christie’s and Sotheby’s evening auctions, struck out on her own after a long and fruitful partnership at L&M Arts with Robert Mnuchin. In 2014 the indefatigable but affable dealer opened a new London space on Old Bond Street, expanding her eponymous gallery so that it now has spaces in New York, London, and Geneva. The London space, formerly a showroom of the legendary Duveens, was inaugurated with half of the transatlantic NY/UK exhibition “Local History: Castellani, Judd, Stella,” a marvel of 1960s masterworks. It was the latest in a series of lauded shows, including Germaine Richier and Pierre Soulages, an impressive level of maturity for a gallery that is less than 2 years old. Lévy is heading into 2015 with a major show of works by Kazuo Shiraga (see “Are Lévy and Mnuchin Together Again? Both Have Upcoming Shiraga Shows“), an exhibition that is co-curated by celebrated expert Koichi Kawasaki, who also is curating the simultaneous landmark US museum show on Shiraga at the Dallas Museum of Art.
It was another banner year for Pace Gallery, under the leadership of Arne and Marc Glimcher with a vibrant roster of top flight exhibitions at its galleries around the world, ranging from multiple gallery spaces in New York, to a London branch, as well as one in Beijing. The gallery was one of the first Western names to take the plunge in China, around 2008, shortly after the contemporary art market boom that started there around the mid-2000s. Highlights of the past year included celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Richard Tuttle’s first solo exhibition in New York (his studies and drawings for the Tate Modern’s renowned Turbine Hall were presented at Pace in New York). Pace London showed “James Turrell: Recent Works,” the gallery’s sixth exhibition with the artist. It featured two monumental never-before-seen works from the “Wide Glass” series presented in site-designed chambers on the ground floor of the gallery. As part of the ongoing art world effort to tap into Silicon Valley wealth and recruit new collectors, Pace opened a temporary gallery space in Menlo Park, presenting a variety of works by contemporary modern masters. Exhibitions there included “Alexander Calder: The Art of Invention,” “Tara Donovan: Untitled,” and “A Brief History of Pace.”
Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn/Salon 94
While she’s been a force in the art world for years, known for taking risks to represent artists she likes, Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn has been making waves in more recent years by getting behind notable collaborations, such as Jay-Z’s artist-filled musical marathon at Pace Gallery for the filming of his “Picasso Baby” video. With exhibitions this year at her three galleries (Salon 94, Salon 94 Bowery, and Salon 94 Freemans) of new work by Tom Sachs, Laurie Simmons, and Jayson Musson, as well as shows of Calder jewelry and contemporary ceramics, Ms. Greenberg Rohatyn proves that she’s just as up on emerging talent and new movements as she is in touch with the old guard. And, as always, she’s doing things her way and with effortless style.
Veteran dealer Paula Cooper has been a contemporary art leader for some five decades, though her still youthful look belies that. Her gallery is as vibrant as ever. Cooper almost single-handedly established New York’s SoHo neighborhood as an art center in the early 1970s when it was a dilapidated warehouse district. Later, she became a Chelsea pioneer. Her secret of longevity, in our opinion, is that she remained loyal to the core group of artists she helped make famous: Carl Andre, Mark di Suvero, Sol LeWitt, Hans Haacke, Jackie Winsor, and Rudolf Stingel. Without her, 2014’s acclaimed Carl Andre retrospective at Dia Beacon, on view through March 9, 2015, would never have happened.
The most soft-spoken of art-world dynamos, Marian Goodman continued in 2014 to lead her stalwart gallery toward the forefront of the avant-garde. With branches in Paris and London, Goodman exhibitions are carefully curated exhibitions of some of today’s most influential artists, including Tacita Dean, Pierre Huyghe, Gerhard Richter, William Kentridge, Steve McQueen, Anri Sala, Tino Seghal, and Gabriel Orozco, to name just a few.
It was a landmark year for Jack Shainman Gallery, filled with both triumph and tragedy. Gallery co-founder Claude Simard died in late June, just weeks after the gallery launched a satellite space—more like a European-style kunsthalle—in a renovated schoolhouse in Kinderhook a rural town in the mid-Hudson River Valley. The space kicked off is inaugural season with a spectacular exhibition and performance by artist Nick Cave. Meanwhile, the gallery’s two New York City venues dazzled audiences with a string of shows of new works by El Anatsui, Radcliffe Bailey, Brad Kahlhamer, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, among others.
Michael Werner isn’t one to scoop up a bunch of art and stash it away in a warehouse somewhere. Just the opposite, in fact. In 2013, he made a major contribution of 130 works to the Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville in Paris, which resulted in an exhibition of over 800 pieces by 37 artists from his extensive personal collection. It was a rare move for a collector and dealer, one that’s a clear display of Werner’s genuine love for art and belief that it should be seen. With locations in New York, London, and Berlin, his eponymous gallery is as lovingly curated as his personal collection. This year’s exhibitions included solo shows of work by Aaron Curry, Peter Doig, and Sigmar Polke. But things weren’t always easy for Werner, who claims he began collecting artwork out of sheer necessity. He told Art in America’s Brian Boucher, “I worked as a dealer for 15 years with almost no success. Since I had to take care of my artists, I bought a lot of work for almost no money.”
Los Angeles art dealer David Kordansky has championed the work of emerging artists for over a decade, and with all eyes now on the burgeoning California art scene, it’s paying off. This year, he was the subject of a lengthy profile in T Magazine which told the story of his eponymous gallery, from humble, youthful beginnings in 2003 to today where he’s heralded as “a new kind of art dealer.” With a stable of over 30 artists, Kordansky moved this year to a massive, 12,705 square foot space in between the two established LA art hubs of Culver City and Highland Avenue. Kordansky’s recent shows have included Rashid Johnson, Mary Weatherford, Anthony Pearson, and 80-year-old painter Sam Gilliam, a largely unrecognized painter of the Washington Color School whose work Kordansky has sold to the MoMA, the Met, and the Rose Art Museum.
Sadie Coles, the owner of London gallery Sadie Coles HQ, is widely regarded as one of the best in the business, snagging a coveted spot on our top 100 art world women list. She represents boldface names like Matthew Barney, Raymond Pettibon, Elizabeth Peyton, and Jordan Wolfson, and her 2014 shows included a much talked-about Urs Fischer installation of 3,000 candy-colored raindrops as well as a show of furniture by Sarah Lucas. Coles is truly a member of the international art scene. From her artists to her patrons, her program exemplifies what it means to be a citizen of the world. She told the art magazine of Deutsche Bank, a company for which she is an art advisor,“I deliberately programmed it to have an international rather than British profile, and my choice of artists reflects this.”
Zach Feuer’s Chelsea gallery has become a staple of the New York art scene. Feuer, a wunderkind who began curating shows in Boston at the tender age of 19, has a knack for turning young art school grads into bona fide art stars seemingly overnight (see: Marianne Vitale, Keren Cytter), and knows how to stay nimble in an ever-changing marketplace (see: selling art on Instagram, which he spoke to artnet News about during this year’s Armory Show.) His shows this year included solo exhibitions of Mark Flood, Jeremy DePrez and Johannes VanDerBeek. But despite his success, the thirty-something dealer manages to stay grounded. “Don’t rush it,” he told Complex. “I’ve witnessed people in a rush to get to the top…[but] when you care about your work more than your career, you have a better career.”
Under the leadership of CEO Mathias Rastorfer, Galerie Gmurzynska’s art world appeal was perhaps best recently encapsulated in its booth at Art Basel in Miami Beach, for which the gallery commissioned director Baz Luhrmann and Nellee Hooper to design in celebration of its 50th anniversary. The experience of viewing the featured masterpieces by Picasso, Yves Klein, Francis Bacon, Kurt Schwitters, Joan Miró, and Wifredo Lam, was further enhanced by the enchanting space—with its superb lighting, richly colored olive-green walls and wood floors not to mention a huge wooden farmhouse style table at the center that served as a place for visitors to lounge and converse with gallery staff. And how could anyone resist the playful title—“A Kid Could Do That”—which appeared in hand-scrawn style writing on the wall, poking fun at abstraction in particular and the art world in general. Not surprisingly it was one of the most talked-about features at the fair. Among other highlights of the past year, the gallery collaborated with the Tate London on its Kazimir Malevich retrospective and participated in a BBC documentary of Zaha Hadid on Malevich’s influence and the Tate exhibition.
Whatever it is that Paul Kasmin’s gallery brings to its adjacent west Chelsea locations you can be sure to expect something great. This year’s wide ranging program included large-scale photos of custom-built industrial landscapes by star photographer David LaChapelle, a museum-caliber show celebrating the Iolas Gallery (“Alexander the Great”), Walton Ford’s dazzling watercolors, Robert Motherwell works on paper, and James Nares’ “Speed Paintings.” The art world can look forward to major shows by Simon Hantai and Francois-Xavier and Claude Lalanne.
Zwirner’s name has become synonymous with West Chelsea real estate—and we mean lots of it—with a huge multi-gallery space that spans much of the north side of West 19th street, and a newer custom-built 30,000-square-foot building one block north that was designed by Annabelle Selldorf. The sleek 20th street building looks and feels more like a private (free) museum and has shows and crowds to match. Meanwhile the exhaustive schedule of shows and books, including in London, often includes major concurrent shows. Last month Zwirner opened shows by Neo Rauch and Christopher Williams on the same day, and both artists were present to offer detailed, in-depth discussions of their work and field questions. This year saw the launch of David Zwirner books, a stand-alone publishing house, as well as the hiring of Todd Bradway, a 20-year publishing veteran, to run it. David Lieber also joined the gallery after 25 years at Sperone Westwater. And the roster of high-profile artists keeps growing. Artists who joined the gallery recently included Wolfgang Tillmans, Kerry James Marshall, Richard Serra, and Jordan Wolfson.
Hauser & Wirth
In the past several years, Iwan and Manuela Wirth transformed the former, long-empty Roxy nightclub in West Chelsea into a cavernous, compelling gallery space that comprises 25,000 square feet and includes a functioning bar that was custom-built by Dieter Roth’s son Bjorn for the first show there. The massive gallery space clearly inspires artists to think big, as evidenced by this year’s shows of Sterling Ruby and Monika Sosnowska not to mention earlier shows devoted to Dieter Roth and Paul McCarthy. This past summer, the gallery opened an exhibition and outdoor facility in Somerset on the historic Durslade Farm in southwest England. Next up, all eyes are on Los Angeles to see how the new space there, under the direction of the most recently named partner, Paul Schimmel will take shape. It promises to be nothing less than spectacular: a sprawling historic flour mill in the city’s fast-growing downtown arts district. As director Iwan Wirth pointed out “more of our artists live in L.A. than any other city.” These include Mark Bradford, Thomas Houseago, Richard Jackson, Rachel Khedoori, McCarthy, Ruby, and Diana Thater. Needless to say, the gallery is widely admired for its thoughtful approach to restoring historic buildings and giving them a new lease on life as contemporary art spaces.
With spaces in St. Moritz, Paris, and Cologne, Karsten Greve has spent more than four decades as a successful international dealer, focusing on postwar avant-garde art. He has worked closely with artists including Cy Twombly, Jannis Kounellis, and John Chamberlain, to name a few. He has been instrumental in building the careers of artists including Louise Bourgeois, Twombly, Chamberlain, Piero Manzoni, and Lucio Fontana. Established artists working with the gallery include photographers Sally Mann and Robert Polidori along with ongoing additions such as Claire Morgan and Sergio Vaga. Greve’s sprawling booth at the recent edition of Art Basel in Miami was a testament to the breadth and range of his program. It featured numerous quintessential works by Bourgeois such as a large Spider sculpture, as well as many of Morgan’s more recently executed, eye-catching assemblages of taxidermied animals and flies.
The roots of family-run powerhouse Acquavella Galleries date back to 1921, when Nicholas Acquavella first specialized in Italian Renaissance works. That changed in 1960 when William Acquavella joined his father and expanded the focus to major 19th- and 20th– century works including Impressionism, Cubism and Surrealism. Now, with his three children Eleanor, Nicholas, and Alexander, the gallery continues to expand the roster of artists it shows while continuing to move forward with younger artists like Enoc Perez, and Damian Loeb. Former Christie’s Asia chairman Ken Yeh joined the team in 2013 to strengthen the gallery’s presence in Asia. Notable exhibitions over the past year included shows of work by Loeb, drawings by Jean-Michel Basquiat, and paintings and works on paper by Wayne Thiebaud.
Austrian dealer Thaddaeus Ropac opened his first gallery in Salzburg in 1983 and in the three decades since, has become a powerful force in the art world with spaces in Paris as well. In a 2011 Wall Street Journal story,artist Tony Cragg said Ropac was the reason why one of his sculptures was shown in the Louvre. Ropac shows contemporary art stars including Georg Baselitz, Anselm Kiefer, Erwin Wurm, and artist duo Gilbert & George. Another dealer called his program the “ideal blue chip gallery” for his mix of established names with more cutting edge ones like Liza Lou and Cory Arcangel. Among standout shows this year were those of work by Liza Lou, Gilbert & George, Oliver Beer, Elaine Sturtevant, and Jack Pierson.
Lower East Side gallerist James Fuentes got his start in the art world with a job as a security guard at the Met. According to an interview with Artsy, he then proceeded to rent a tiny, 300-square-foot space that coincidentally also housed megadealer Gavin Brown’s first gallery. A New York native, the young dealer’s current spot on trendy Delancey Street is coincidentally just blocks from his childhood home. In February, he mounted a blink-and-you’ve-missed-it length group show aptly titled “Urbanities” which featured the work of buzzy artists like Dan Colen and Lizzi Bougatsos. A few weeks later, the gallery organized a tribute to the 1979 “Real Estate Show,” an important moment in LES art history that saw a group of artists break into a city-owned building to install an exhibition. The ordeal that ensued led to the creation of the seminal counterculture organization ABC No Rio. Fuentes is clearly very much a gallerist of his place, and given that his place continues to be a thriving art neighborhood, that’s definitely not a bad thing.
Rachel Uffner was one of the first dealers to operate on the Lower East Side, helping to turn it from a minor art neighborhood into the hotbed of creativity it is today. After five years on Orchard Street, she moved her operation to a comparably massive, two-story space with soaring 20-foot ceilings. “I think most people that walk in there are just like, ‘Whoa, this is awesome,’” she told the Observer prior to the big move. But it isn’t just Uffner’s drool-worthy space that keeps art lovers coming back. The gallery packs an impressive roster of artists including Sara Greenberger Rafferty, Joanne Greenbaum, and Sam Moyer. Uffner herself is also a force to be reckoned with. “I opened in September of 2008, literally like the day after Lehman Brothers collapsed,” she told New York Magazine. “It was a really terrifying, traumatic time…for a second I thought ‘okay, if this gallery doesn’t work out, maybe I can be a dentist.’” Luckily for all of us, it didn’t come to that.
Joel Mesler clearly likes to stay busy. In addition to running the Lower East Side gallery Untitled, he recently opened Retrospective, a kitschy space with checkerboard floors in the burgeoning art hamlet of Hudson, NY, which he co-owns with gallerist Zach Feuer. Retrospective opened this summer with a show of bright, cartoonish paintings by Jamian Juliano-Villani that sold out almost immediately. Back in New York, Untitled is a well-respected gallery that represents Kour Pour, N. Dash, and Matthew Chambers. But in Hudson, Mesler takes things a bit more lightly, despite the Retrospective’s instant success. He told T Magazine, “I want a chicken coop. I want to work hard in the city and sell art, then come up here and play with chickens.”
Over the past year, the debonair French art dealer Emmanuel Perrotin firmly established his presence in New York. He opened his stateside gallery in 2013, to join his three hometown Paris spaces and a branch in Hong Kong. In the art business since the age of 17, Perrotin is well known for his edgy exhibitions of works by international artists such as Takashi Murakami, Maurizio Cattelan, Wim Delvoye, Jesper Just, and Elmgreen and Dragset, as well as French artists Xavier Veilhan, Sophie Calle, Johan Creten, and Bernard Frize.
Helene Winer and Janelle Reiring/Metro Pictures
Metro Pictures, which was founded in Soho in 1980 by Helene Winer and Janelle Reiring, was one of the first galleries in the wave to Chelsea that happened in the mid-to-late 1990s. The gallery still works closely with many of the so-called “Pictures” generation it introduced to the public and has championed ever since, including star Cindy Sherman, Robert Longo, Troy Brauntuch, Jack Goldstein, Sherri Levine, James Welling, and Richard Prince. Among a long list of stellar exhibitions this year, our favorites included Robert Longo’s appropriation of Abstract Expressionist masters, Gary Simmons’s boxing-themed “Fight Night,” and Trevor Paglen’s just-closed “Code Names of the Surveillance State.”