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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

The Upper East Side Renaissance: Art Galleries Rediscover New York’s Gilded Enclave

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Edited by: TJVNews.com

When White Cube, the renowned British gallery that played a pivotal role in launching the careers of artists like Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst, announced its New York expansion plans in 2018, it sent ripples of excitement through the art world, according to writer, editor, and author Coco Romack on the ArtBasel.com web site.   While the move had been in the works for some time, it took five years to find the perfect location, team, and space to bring this vision to fruition.

In October, White Cube will proudly unveil its first New York showroom at 1002 Madison Avenue, a historic red-brick building erected in 1932 as the former headquarters of the Fifth Avenue Bank, according to the report on the ArtBasel.com web site.  While this neo-Georgian structure might appear unassuming next to the dazzling presence of The Mark Hotel and the Italian restaurant Sant Ambroeus down the street, it possesses a unique charm, Romack writes. Its facade evokes nostalgia, reminiscent of White Cube’s very first standalone gallery, which opened in 2000 in London’s East End.

The interiors of White Cube’s New York space have been thoughtfully designed to accommodate private viewing rooms and exhibition spaces across three floors. ArtBasel.com also reported that the inaugural show, ‘Chopped & Screwed,’ will feature works by prominent artists such as David Hammons, Julie Mehretu, and Tiona Nekkia McClodden. According to Courtney Willis Blair, the show’s curator and senior director of White Cube US, “You have this phenomenal landmark building that doesn’t have any history of galleries or art in it. So it’s a nice way for White Cube to come into a space that we can really put our own stamp on.”

Beyond the historical significance of the building, the gallery’s location in the Upper East Side offers a distinct advantage. This neighborhood, known for its grand 19th-century brownstones, opulent mansions, and celebrity residents, is also home to world-class cultural institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Neue Galerie, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, as was noted in the ArtBasel.com report. It boasts a concentration of art collectors, making it a prime destination for galleries seeking a prestigious foothold in New York.

The Upper East Side has a rich history of art dealing, dating back to the early 20th century when wealthy families moved uptown. Even during the Great Depression, galleries here continued to privately sell masterpieces and modern art to a select clientele. The ArtBasel.com report also indicated that while the art scene ventured into neighborhoods like SoHo and TriBeCa in the late 20th century, and later to Chelsea, the Upper East Side remained a stronghold for art commerce. Today, while the Lower East Side and Chinatown are hubs for emerging artists, the Upper East Side offers a unique appeal, the report added.

Unlike Chelsea’s spacious former warehouses, uptown galleries often occupy domestic settings, including townhouses and apartment buildings with charming features like wood floors, decorative plasterwork, and elegant marble staircases, the ArtBasel.com report said that Gagosian has maintained a presence here since 1989, and in the last decade, international galleries such as Blum & Poe, Galerie Buchholz, Petzel, and Almine Rech have joined the neighborhood.

One of the newest additions is the South African Goodman Gallery, known for championing renowned artists like William Kentridge and El Anatsui. Liza Essers. The ArtBasel.com report noted that the gallery’s owner and director, was drawn to the Upper East Side after the pandemic prompted Adler Beatty to offer its 69th Street showroom for presentations by Goodman’s artists. The experience made Essers recognize the area’s potential. Goodman Gallery is set to open an office and viewing room in a townhouse on 67th Street, contributing to the neighborhood’s growing art presence.

Essers sees this move as an opportunity to foster connections between the gallery’s roster and local curators, bridging gaps in the art-historical canon. “New York is very much still the center where a lot of the discourse is taking place,” she notes. Goodman Gallery plans to focus on exhibitions featuring artists like Gabrielle Goliath, Kapwani Kiwanga, and David Koloane, contributing to a meaningful and sustained engagement with the art community, as was reported by ArtBasel.com.

This trend of galleries relocating to the Upper East Side aligns with the desire to be closer to clients. The neighborhood’s streets, including Madison Avenue, Fifth Avenue, and Park Avenue, are lined with art collectors’ residences. ArtBasel.com reported that Brett Gorvy, one of the minds behind Lévy Gorvy Dayan, highlights this appeal: “Galleries looking to come to New York want to be uptown because it’s where clients live. If you go down Madison Avenue, Fifth, or Park, the number of collections that literally line those streets from Midtown up to the 80s is extraordinary.”

The architecture’s personality and history are another allure. Lévy Gorvy Dayan, for instance, occupies a magnificent Beaux-Arts-style townhouse constructed in the 1930s. This former headquarters of the Wildenstein dynasty of art dealers, known for hosting Old Master and Impressionist exhibitions for over five decades, offers a unique setting, as was reported by ArtBasel.com. The gallery’s program combines blue-chip artists and emerging talent. In September, it will host a retrospective of French abstract painter Pierre Soulages, followed by an exhibition of large-scale paintings by Brooklyn-based artist Jenna Gribbon. These townhouse environments allow viewers to engage with art as if they were living with it, creating a welcoming atmosphere that fosters community engagement.

The resurgence of galleries in the Upper East Side echoes history while adding a fresh layer to New York’s vibrant art scene. The report said that a leisurely stroll along the neighborhood’s broad avenues provides a unique art-viewing experience, and the buzz has attracted significant players like Sotheby’s. According to the ArtBasel.com report, the renowned auction house is set to occupy the iconic Marcel Breuer building, formerly the Whitney Museum of American Art, next year. This move is expected to further solidify the Upper East Side’s status as a major art destination.

As galleries return to their roots in the Upper East Side, the neighborhood offers an enticing blend of history, culture, and prestige that appeals to collectors, artists, and art enthusiasts alike.

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