8 Galleries Opening in 2020, from New York to Rome
Installation view of Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, “If I Died,” at The St. Regis, Rome, 2020. Photo by Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio. Courtesy of the artist and Galleria Continua.
With galleries shuttering around the world, it’s easy to get dejected. As news of art fairs and online viewing rooms dominate the art press, prospects for new exhibition spaces can seem grim. Yet the following eight galleries have opted to launch new spaces in 2020, revealing that the prognosis for brick-and-mortar art shops may not be so bleak. The following openings—spread across New York, London, Hong Kong, and Rome—reveal that dealers are still enthusiastic about developing fresh gallery programming and finding new business models. The gallery is not dead. Long live the gallery!
Public Swim, New York
105 Henry Street
Installation view of “Elements of Existence,” at Public Swim. Photo by Etienne Frossard. Courtesy of Public Swim.
While mega-galleries continue to expand in Chelsea, Madeleine Mermall and Catherine Fenton Bernath bet on the Lower East Side for their own roster of emerging artists. Earlier this month, they opened their exhibition space, Public Swim, down the street from Ellie Rines’s plucky, celebrated 56 Henry gallery and a stone’s throw from Parinaz Mogadassi’s Tramps space and Essex Flowers, among other nearby galleries.
Over the past few years, Mermall has curated small shows and made good use of quirky locales, ranging from a former Brooklyn brewery to a beloved bookstore. Bernath is an artist with an MFA from Parsons.
The pair chose the Chinatown–Lower East Side area, Mermall said, because “the diversity of [the] neighborhood aligns with our extended mission to not only focus on art by emerging artists, but to work on methods of inclusion and transparency with our immediate neighbors and beyond.” The pair has begun reaching out to local organizations, institutions, and public schools to discuss ways to collaborate. The gallery’s inaugural show, “Elements of Existence” (up through March 8th), features work by eight painters who embrace the uncanny. Prices range from $30 to $4,500.
Claire Oliver, New York
2288 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard
Installation view of Judith Schaechter, “Almost Better Angels,” at Clair Oliver Gallery, 2020. Courtesy fo Claire Oliver Gallery.
In 2018, Chelsea gallerist Claire Oliver purchased a four-story Harlem brownstone. After directing painstaking renovations—creating a glass storefront, opening up the floorplan—Oliver fêted her new space with an opening celebration on January 18th.
The first exhibition, up through February 22nd, features stained-glass lightboxes by Judith Schaechter, whose work also inaugurated Oliver’s Chelsea space almost 20 years ago. “Since it was a conscious choice to move to Harlem, as it is such a cultural hub, it was especially heartwarming to have our local community come out in strong support of our move,” Oliver said, noting that collectors and curators attended the opening. Next up, the gallery opens an exhibition of large-scale quilts by Bisa Butler on February 29th.
Galleria Continua, Rome
The St. Regis Rome, Via Vittorio E. Orlando 3
Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, Teenager Teenager, 2011. Photo by Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio. Courtesy of the artist and Galleria Continua.
International powerhouse Galleria Continua, which operates out of San Gimignano, Italy; Beijing, China; Les Moulins, France; and Havana, Cuba, opened a new location inside the St. Regis hotel in Rome on January 23rd. In the hotel lobby, the gallery mounted three installations by 2019 Venice Biennale participants Sun Yuan & Peng Yu. One, titled Teenager Teenager (2011), resembles a sofa populated by life-sized dolls with large rocks where their heads should be.
Galleria Continua’s first show at the St. Regis space features painting and an installation by Cuban multimedia artist José Yaque, on view until March 28th. In a press statement, the gallery explained that its expansion isn’t dictated by the market, but by “the people, situations, and places” it encounters. “When we find somewhere with which we feel a certain type of harmony, we launch ourselves into it, body and soul,” the gallery said. In Rome, the founders already have a circle of collector friends to support the program.
3 Endsleigh Street
Opening February 27, 2020
This new gallery, in the heart of Bloomsbury, boasts elegant, refurbished Georgian architecture. Shanghai collectors Jiafeng and Litian He, who share expertise in the Chinese art market, will curate contemporary art shows in the three exhibition spaces, across 1,800 square feet. Their opening presentations include a solo show with the young Swiss painter Lenz Geerk and a group show featuring Anthony Cudahy, Dominique Fung, Alessandro Fogo, Stanislava Kovalcikova, and Jenna Gribbon.
Villepin, Hong Kong
53–55 Hollywood Road, Central Hong Kong
Opening March 2020
Former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin has plans to launch a new gallery in Hong Kong this March. He’s teaming up with his son, Arthur de Villepin, to open a three-story, 3,000-square-foot exhibition space.
The duo’s first show will feature the work of Chinese-French Abstract Expressionist Zao Wou-Ki, whose market has exploded over the past decade. “Art has a strong social function, and there needs to be a cultural intelligence behind each collection and an understanding of each artwork’s role within the greater scheme,” Dominique de Villepin said in a press statement.
L’INCONNUE, New York
211 Madison Street
Opening spring 2020
Vera Frenkel, String Games: Improvisations for Inter-City, 1974. Courtesy of the artist.
Leila Greiche, who opened L’INCONNUE in Montreal in 2016, will relocate her program to a 600-square-foot space in Chinatown this spring. While her roster features around 30 contemporary artists, she’ll open the gallery with a solo presentation of work by Vera Frenkel, a Toronto-based multimedia artist whose work focuses on issues of migration.
In a press statement, Greiche alluded to her desire to find a larger audience in Manhattan than she had in Montreal. “The art world is a niche market and community therefore I believe there is more opportunity to cultivate an audience and program in New York which will expedite the advancement of the gallery in the most optimal setting,” she said. “I also look forward to bringing the knowledge I gained from the Canadian art community to this new venture.”
Thomas Nickles Project, New York
47 Orchard Street
Opening spring 2020
Sandra Cordero, Vagabundus Coquette. Courtesy of Thomas Nickles Project.
Sandra Cordero, Vagabundus Mufa. Courtesy of Thomas Nickles Project.
Thomas Nickles Project, which works with Cuban artists, has operated out of Park Slope, Brooklyn, on a by-appointment basis for the past four years. Founders Kristen Thomas and John Nickles are ready to bring their curatorial work to a permanent space. Though they haven’t yet signed a lease, they plan to take possession of an Orchard Street space, renovate it, and open in spring 2020. They’re drawn to the area, Nickles said, because they’ll “be joining a community of like-minded, small to mid-sized galleries and the New York City spirit there still feels authentic.”
Cromwell Place, London
1–5 Cromwell Place
Opening May 2020
A 19th-century building in South Kensington promises to become a new London art hub this May. Called Cromwell Place, the site features 13 gallery spaces, art storage facilities, offices, meeting rooms, viewing rooms, art handling services, and social lounges. Interested parties may apply to become members through February 21st. Arndt Art Agency, The Third Line, and Addis Fine Art have already signed on as members. The setup provides a new model for smaller galleries—hopefully, it proves a sustainable, innovative coworking model for gallerists seeking to set up shop in pricy cities.
Correction: A previous version of this text said Tramps is Peter Doig’s space; it is Parinaz Mogadassi’s. Additionally, the article has been updated to reflect Mamoth’s exact opening date.
Clarification: This article has been clarified to more accurately reflect Public Swim’s outreach to local organizations and institutions in the gallery’s neighborhood.