New York Gallery Week: What’s In It For Us?



New York Gallery Week kicks off tomorrow, Friday, May 7. It’s actually more of a long weekend: the inaugural NYGW features a series of events and solo show openings at participating galleries, from May 7 to May 10. Look for exhibitions and artist talks at about 50 galleries, including David Zwirner, Taxter & Spengemann, Bortolami and Nyehaus, as well as a handful of non-profits, like the Drawing Center. Events are free to the public and galleries will be open extended hours.

But does New York—a city where there are hundreds of art shows running at any given time—need a week dedicated to gallery exhibitions? Some in the art world think so.

“It makes New York an art destination without making it an art fair,” said Zach Feuer, whose Zach Feuer Gallery will host a book signing with painter Dana Schutz on Friday. Whereas the focus of an art fair is more on commerce, and on showing—and selling—individual works of art, a showcase of galleries makes it about the exhibitions.

“In an art gallery the shows really give the artist a possibility of giving it a narrative,” said Stefania Bortolami, of Bortolami, who was just in Berlin for Berlin Gallery Week.

Art fair culture, Bortolami thinks, also makes buyers “a little bit lazy.” Going from fair to fair, “You forget about the bigger picture, that all of those works of art was actually created for a show… and the show was a better showcase,” she said.

New York Gallery Week is the brainchild of dealer Casey Kaplan, of Casey Kaplan Gallery. Feeling a lack in the New York gallery scene, Kaplan found it in Minneapolis, at the Walker Art Center exhibition The Quick and the Dead.

“At the opening there was just an amazing energy and excitement, in such stark contrast with what I was experiencing back in New York,” Kaplan said. In New York, he mostly was seeing empty art spaces. “More or less, the gallery system in New York was broken, I thought… If the people had stopped coming (to the galleries) because of the financial slowdown, we had presented ourselves wrongly, or we had allowed ourselves to be presented wrongly.”