What is a gallery? | ET REALITY


Commercial galleries are an old and unique business within the New York City economy, something between a store and a salon, the anchor of both a largely unregulated market and creative expression itself. The earliest examples of galleries in New York, from the first half of the 19th century, predate all of the major museums and auction houses in the metropolitan area, not to mention Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building, and Grand Central Terminal. . This would seem to suggest that there is something indelible about galleries in the landscape of this city and, by extension, in any truly global city that values ​​culture. That New York has the largest gallery network in the world is a fact that many art business observers simply take for granted: Why does New York have so many galleries? Because it is the center of the art world. Why is New York the center of the art world? Because it has so many galleries.

Art selling is generally assumed to be, at best, a secretive affair and, at worst, a distillation of the most blatant inequality: an industry run by and for an elite with more money than they could ever hope to spend. in one life. This is at least partially true, but it is not the whole story. While a handful of galleries have ballooned to the size of large corporations, many art dealers are, in fact, small business owners doing their best to cope with rising rents and changing priorities. And as opaque and unpleasant as the gallery business may seem to someone arriving from the street in the cold, these places are also among the last spaces in the city, apart from parks and public squares, where anyone can do precisely that, enjoying free entry. .

Even for those who have never set foot inside one, galleries have had a huge influence on life in New York. Much of how the city has transformed since the Second World War is a result of its galleries, to which we not only owe several movements that have changed the course of art itself (abstract expressionism, pop art, minimalism, No Wave, etc. ) but also the growth of vast commercial and residential areas such as SoHo, West Chelsea and the Lower East Side. T’s Art 2023 edition looks beyond assumptions about the gallery system and examines the realities: how it was formed, how it has shaped the city, the state it is in now, and what the future holds. (On the one hand, a migration from West Chelsea). The story told here is one of gentrification and inflation, of the way we fetishize a more bohemian (and notably more affordable) past. But beyond that, it is a story of survival. As much as New York changes and as much as contemporary art has to do with those changes, this is still the main place where artists want to share their work with the world.

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