Cheim & Read announced in a press release Thursday that they will close down in January 2019, and move to a space uptown, where they will focus on secondary market dealing and special projects. The gallery has been a mainstay in Chelsea since its founders, John Cheim and Howard Read, defected from Robert Miller Gallery in 1997 to start a renegade shop, bringing artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Jenny Holzer, David Salle, and Lynda Benglis along with them. The first location was in a garage on 23rd Street; four years later, they moved to a space bathed in natural light at 547 W. 25th Street in 2001, out of which they have operated for the last 17 years.
“We will continue to work with artists and estates that have been associated with the gallery throughout its history,” the founders wrote in the announcement. “We will also mount small-scale, focused installations in our new space and continue to participate in select art fairs.”
They are not referring to the new space as a gallery, but rather as a “private practice,” and the announcement of a new book celebrating the 21 years of the Cheim & Read certainly gave the announcement a feeling of finality. Some fairs, such as Art Basel, require galleries to have physical exhibition spaces in order to participate (it is not clear whether the new iteration of Cheim & Read will qualify as such). Frieze New York began allowing galleries without physical spaces to apply, beginning with the 2018 edition, but Frieze London has not—and Cheim & Read did not appear on the exhibitor list for Frieze London 2018 that was released this week.
The closing announcement comes less than two months after the news that the estate of Joan Mitchell, which had worked with Cheim & Read since the artist’s death in 1992, decided to leave for David Zwirner. The move drew plenty of ire from fellow gallerists, such as Paula Cooper, who said in a roundtable discussion published in T that “I thought it was so insulting to Cheim & Read, who’d done such a great job for Joan Mitchell. This art world has become so uncivilized.”
Earlier this week, the artist Louise Fishman announced in an email that she was leaving as well, saying, “After two decades with this gallery, it is time for change.”
The Chelsea gallery’s final programming will include a summer show curated by Jack Pierson, an exhibition of Mitchell paintings from the 1950s and 1960s, and a solo show of works by Bourgeois.