Art Market

Marlborough Chelsea Merging with Marlborough Contemporary

Anna Louie Sussman
Feb 24, 2017 1:00PM

Installation of John Riepenhoff at Atlanta Contemporary, 2015. Photo courtesy of Marlborough Contemporary.

Marlborough Chelsea has merged with its sister space in London, Marlborough Contemporary, the gallery announced Friday. Both spaces will now be known as Marlborough Contemporary.

The consolidation under one unified name comes as the Chelsea space is growing its roster of 21 artists, says the gallery’s principal director Max Levai. The London gallery listed five artists on its roster prior to the merger, down from 13 listed in October 2015. Levai says programming for the reboot of Marlborough Contemporary in London remains in development.

“It felt like the right time to take on another space and push our programming forward,” he says. “This is about putting forth a unified solution for the future of this gallery.”

Marlborough Contemporary’s merger follows recent announcements by several other New York galleries that have reconfigured their activities. Most notably, Andrea Rosen announced this week that she would shutter her physical gallery space and cease to represent living artists, focusing instead on the estates that she works with, including that of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, which she will now share with David Zwirner.

Earlier this month, the Lower East Side’s Tomorrow and Hester galleries announced that they would merge to form Downs & Ross, in a move, more like that of Marlborough Contemporary, to amplify their existing activities and reflect standing personal bonds.

Levai says the two galleries will now operate under a unified program, but, as before, will have a dedicated staff in London. Ed Spurr, formerly of Matthew Marks Gallery in New York, has joined as a director in London, and is set to move there ahead of its first show in late April. Andrew Renton, who formerly ran Marlborough Contemporary in London, departed the gallery earlier in the year.

The New York gallery will continue to be led by Levai and co-founder Pascal Spengemann, as well as Leo Fitzpatrick, who oversees programming in its Viewing Room. Nichole Caruso, formerly of Wallspace and Lisa Cooley, will be joining Marlborough Contemporary in New York as director, and Levai says overall headcount across both galleries will remain stable at 12 people. 

Levai took over the New York location in 2012, and the London location opened later that same year. The New York location spans a ground-floor and second-floor space at 545 West 25th Street and hosts three exhibitions at any one time; the London space is a single 2,500-square foot gallery, located on the second floor of 6 Albemarle Street, in the centrally located Mayfair area.

While they exhibited separately at art fairs in the past, going forward, the combined Marlborough Contemporary will exhibit as a single entity at fairs, beginning with next week’s Armory Show in New York.

Levai says both spaces have always shared a commitment to working mostly with living artists who are still producing new work. But the expansion into London is not a straightforward extension of the Chelsea space’s programming. Rather, he says, the London space will open with a series of shows of important artists who have not had major solo shows in London and who he believes are “long overdue” for exposure to that audience.

Levai says he intends to keep the programming in London “relatively fluid” for the time being, so the gallery has room to explore different kinds of presentations.

The inaugural London show will feature sculptures by Sarah Braman, opening on April 27th. In New York, Marlborough Contemporary will open The Exile at Home, one of the first comprehensive retrospectives of artist R.B. Kitaj’s work to be held in Chelsea, Levai says.

Levai says he will remain based in New York City, but will be spending significantly more time in London as he engages further with the audience and the market there.

“There’s no handbook for building a gallery that is both personally gratifying and successful,” he says. “I think I’m learning every day.”

Anna Louie Sussman