Ready or Not


It’s ba-a-ack. The week after Labor Day means the New York art world is flipping from its summer sleep mode into what many dealers hope will be another season of full-tilt feeding frenzy. Chelsea, the neighborhood of more than 300 slick, wanton, wonderful, or whatever galleries—the boomtown or Babylon everyone loves to hate but goes to anyway—is being jazzed up as well. That strip of Niketown-like galleries on West 24th Street—where behemoth gallery-palaces account for more square footage of exhibition space than probably exists in the Copenhagen, Lisbon, and Oslo art worlds combined—has a new look. Marianne Boesky has built herself a snazzy building next to Barbara Gladstone, and down the block Andrea Rosen and Luhring Augustine are reopening in totally redone digs. The sight of dual cement trucks inside these two spaces this summer while girders were hoisted atop Boesky’s building was only further proof, if any were necessary, that money is plentiful and ambition is in overdrive in Gomorrah-on-the-Hudson.

Meanwhile, mega-players like David Zwirner and Larry Gagosian, who rent and own galleries in the district, haven’t been idle. The former just opened not one but two new spaces on either side of his already large 19th Street gallery; the latter is not only building a large structure on land he leases on 21st Street, he’s becoming an ecosphere unto himself—an empire that operates in more cities than the Guggenheim and that emits a honey-money scent enterprising artists apparently can’t resist. At the rate he’s growing, it sometimes seems like Gagosian might be the only gallery of contemporary art anywhere in ten years.

Elsewhere in the food chain, Michele Maccarone is moving from Chinatown to a new ground floor space a few doors north of Gavin Brown in the West Village, and Reena Spaulings is relocating from its storefront on the Lower East Side to a larger space nearby. Whatever you think of an art world that operates on appetite, acumen, and ruthlessness as much as vision, whimsy, and good timing—to say nothing of money, clout, vanity, and insanity—it’s here, it’s queer, get used to it.