Gallery Expands in ChelseaWith a new eight-story headquarters, Pace passes a generational baton while joining a building boom among the city’s biggest galleries.
세계적인 페이스 갤러리가 8층짜리 가장 규모있는 대형 갤러리 빌딩을 오픈해 차세대에게 바톤을 넘기고 있다.
Tagging along on a business trip to Paris with his father, the art dealer Arne Glimcher, in the 1970s, Marc Glimcher was struck by the rough-hewed warmth of the wood-block flooring in André Chenue’s art storage warehouse. Now, as the 55-year-old president and chief executive of Pace Gallery, the younger Mr. Glimcher has been able to bring that memory to life in Pace’s new home in Chelsea, which opens next month.
The eight-story building, on West 25th Street and designed by Bonetti/Kozerski Architecture, is heavy with symbolism, not only because of what it says about Mr. Glimcher’s taking the reins from his father — who founded the gallery 59 years ago — but also because of what it telegraphs about the art market.
At a time when small and midsize galleries are struggling, closing or merging because of a decline in foot traffic and the rise of costly art fairs, New York’s four mega-galleries are doing the opposite: doubling down on major building projects in Chelsea.
In designing such new homes, these heavy hitters — Gagosian, Hauser & Wirth, David Zwirner and Pace, which is consolidating its spaces on the Upper East Side and West 25th Street — are redefining what it means to be a gallery, shifting their emphasis from selling and showing art to a more full-service visitor experience that offers food, performance spaces, research libraries and open storage.
The future of art galleries, Marc Glimcher said, lies in making spaces where people want to congregate, “like church.” It is why his new building will feature Pace Live, a multidisciplinary program of music, dance, film and conversation with a full-time curatorial director at the helm: Mark Beasley, the former curator of performance and media art at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington.
But some art experts say the building boom boils down to little more than dueling empires with a “mine is bigger than yours” mentality. “It’s a horse race,” said Howard Read of Cheim & Read, which last year closed its 21-year-old Chelsea gallery and now operates a private dealership on the Upper East Side. “They’re all out to see who can represent Jeff Koons for the longest.”
At more than $100 million, the cost of Pace’s project is greater than the New Museum’s $89 million budget for its expansion, though Pace is technically only renting its space. (It has a 20-year lease.)
David Zwirner is building a five-story, $50 million space designed by Renzo Piano on West 21st Street, to open in 2021. And Hauser & Wirth is constructing a new five-story building designed by Annabelle Selldorf on West 22nd Street — the gallery’s first new ground-up home, scheduled to open next spring.
Hauser & Wirth arguably set the standard for the full-service gallery with its sprawling Los Angeles complex, which opened in 2016 and features a farm-to-table restaurant, public vegetable garden (with egg-laying chickens), sculpture courtyard, gift shop and bookstore.
Some liken this trend in the art market to the kind of consolidation taking place in the retail industry. “The boutiques that were on every main street — you see them closing and the same major luxury chains in every major city,” said the dealer Jeffrey Deitch, who compared the mega galleries to “a Louis Vuitton flagship.”
“People like events,” Mr. Deitch added, “so visiting a mega gallery emporium is like an event.”
But the art market has yet to have an online revolution, like the retail industry. Marc Glimcher said the analogy to retail is misplaced, and that there remains a demand for firsthand interactions and a sense of community, which galleries continue to provide. “Retail is suffering because it’s replaceable in a virtual world,” Mr. Glimcher said. “Art galleries are not suffering; they’re growing because we offer an experience.”
In fact, the period between 2016 and 2018 saw fewer galleries opening and several closing, according to the latest Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report. And some galleries are clearly suffering, namely those that have been unable to sustain the steep costs of renting prime real estate and participating in multiple art fairs. In 2017, for example, On Stellar Rays closed on the Lower East Side. Others that have shuttered include the Laurel Gitlen Gallery, Murray Guy and Kansas. The longtime Chelsea dealer Julie Saul announced last month that she had lost her lease and would deal privately. “I’ve seen attendance diminish a lot,” she told Artnet last year.
Marc Glimcher acknowledged that the art market demands survival of the fittest but said it has been ever thus, and that the moment simply calls for a course adjustment — namely collaboration, so that galleries are not going it alone.
Galleries have banded together to drive street traffic through Art Walks, and Mr. Glimcher pointed to Pace’s recent announcement that it would team up with the Los Angeles-based dealer David Kordansky to represent the abstract artist Sam Gilliam. “Big galleries who are trying to fight that are going to suffer,” he said. “We’re collaborative because it’s the smartest thing to be.”
“The audience for art has grown radically,” he added. “The number of people who care about contemporary art versus 30 years ago is just crazy. It’ll evolve, and there will be many casualties for sure. And I’m not saying the mix of galleries won’t change; it will. But there is an audience.”
Pace — which represents the estates of Agnes Martin, Mark Rothko and Robert Ryman along with living artists like Chuck Close, Adam Pendleton and Adrian Ghenie — saw 38,000 people pour in for its Rothko dark palette show in 2016. “On some Saturdays we had 2,000,” Arne Glimcher said. “That really disseminates your artists’ work in the best way.”
Proffering user-friendly amenities to woo future buyers, Pace’s new building includes a dining room for catered events; an art book library where scholars can do research; and art storage where visitors can pull out racks of Pace’s inventory, modeled after Galeria Luisa Strina in Brazil. Pace bought a food truck to park on its expansive terrace; the gallery also plans to present music four times a year
“A quarter of this building is given over to experience,” Mr. Glimcher said. “It has to be a cultural destination. The job of an art gallery is not retail square footage. It hasn’t been for a long time.”
“I didn’t make up these evolutionary pressures — they exist,” he added. “And that pressure is pushing you to create an experience, create a place for people to come together.”
It’s also pushing galleries to become more accessible, Mr. Glimcher said, less elitist and intimidating to the general public. “Open it up,” he said. “Get rid of the velvet ropes.”
Mr. Glimcher showed the new space off proudly on a recent tour, during which two prominent members of the gallery’s artistic stable had also stopped by for a look: Claes Oldenburg, 90, and Chuck Close, 79. He pointed to the use of bespoke materials, like aluminum foam and lava rock, for the exterior and sound-absorbing ceilings to avoid the echoey quality of most galleries.
“This is my Shed,” Mr. Glimcher quipped while standing in the gallery’s performance space, referring to the new multidiscipline arts center at Hudson Yards.
The “my” points up the sense of liberation Mr. Glimcher seems to feel in finally being the guy in charge. His office is bigger than that of his father, who over the past five years has been handing off more responsibility. This building project was Marc’s baby and earned Arne’s grudging blessing.
“He thinks it’s extravagant, but he is totally supportive,” Mr. Glimcher said of his father. “It took 35 years for him to get supportive. It took me 35 years to be ready.”
“There were plenty of times when I was like, ‘It’s you or me,’ and he was like, ‘Bye-bye,’ and I’m really lucky that he did that,” he continued. “It’s really hard to take over. Every gallery is a personality cult. It’s hard to be the second generation person. You didn’t do your rags to riches, but you have advantages too. You saw all the things that worked and all the things that didn’t work.”
Arne Glimcher said their current hierarchy “feels good.”
“He used to work for me,” he said. “Now I work for him.”