Without a doubt, New York City is one of the most prominent cities in the world when it comes to art. Throughout the years, many renowned artists and movements have arisen from the cosmopolitan streets of this famous metropolis. Everywhere you turn, you can discover another New York art gallery in Manhattan and other areas within the city. If your visit to the city is short and you only have time to check out one NYC art gallery, then be sure to read this list of the best art galleries in New York to make it easier for you to pick one.
Table of Contents
- 1 Discovering the Best Art Galleries in New York
- 2 Frequently Asked Questions
Discovering the Best Art Galleries in New York
When people say that New York City is a major hub of artistic creativity, they are not exaggerating, in fact, with over 1500 galleries across the city, it is believed to have the highest concentration of art galleries in the entire world! Every New York art gallery in Manhattan and surrounding areas is unique, though, and offers a distinct display of curated artworks. With such variety to choose from, we have decided to share our list of the best art galleries in New York so that you will know what to expect from each of them. The beauty of being spoiled for choice is that you will likely find an NYC art gallery that perfectly fits your personal taste – no matter how traditional or quirky.
Gladstone Gallery (1980)
|Ed Atkins, Carroll Dunham, Arthur Jafa, Alex Katz, Matthew Barney, and Ian Cheng
|515 West 24th Street, New York City, United States
Gladstone Gallery is a famous contemporary art gallery in Manhattan. Barbara Gladstone, renowned for her sharp eye for spotting new talent, established the gallery in 1980. Gladstone started out as a curator, working for numerous prominent New York City institutions, such as the Dia Art Foundation and the Guggenheim Museum. In 1980, she decided to go it alone and founded her own gallery space in New York’s SoHo district.
Gladstone then moved her gallery to its present address in Manhattan’s Chelsea area in 1996, and it immediately became regarded as one of the world’s best contemporary art galleries.
Gladstone Gallery has shown the works of several of today’s most prominent and imaginative artists, including Anish Kapoor, Matthew Barney, Arthur Jafa, and Sarah Lucas, among many others, over the years. Gladstone Gallery is pure blue-chip, with a strong focus on the philosophical, conceptual, and bold. The Gladstone Gallery also participates in a number of important art fairs. What truly defines Gladstone Gallery is its originator, Barbara Gladstone. She is very admired for her immense love of art and her dedication to actively supporting artists.
Calvin-Morris Gallery (c. 1980s)
|Alex Morris and Andrew Calvin
|Christine Sefolosha, Sylvian Staelens, and Ghyslain Staelens
|210 Eleventh Avenue, New York City, United States
For almost four decades, Cavin-Morris Gallery has showcased contemporary artists from all around the globe. They concentrate on the contemporary artwork of artists who do not create works for the mainstream art world. They represent both previous and present generations of artists whose works, according to the gallery curators, seem timeless. They provide a diverse variety of tribal artworks from all significant regions of the globe, emphasizing the unexpected and the striking, with an emphasis on masking arts.
They also focus on modern ceramics, both practical and non-functional.
The gallery is particularly interested in how certain ceramists transcend the boundaries of conventional forms and civilizations. It features Western ceramic designers as well as individuals from Korea, Japan, and China. The distinctiveness, authenticity, visionary integrity, and depiction of cultural home ground are the common threads that unite all of this art. The gallery seeks the point at which classifications become obsolete and the artwork remains immediate, urgent, and unique. In 2001, they launched Arts of the Ethnosphere, a new addition to the museum, where art reflecting civilizations from Neolithic to Modern would be presented in various mediums, from textiles to stone.
Michael Werner (1990)
|Aaron Curry, James Lee Byars, Peter Doig, Jörg Immendorff, Thomas Houseago, Per Kirkeby, Markus Lüpertz, A.R. Penck, and Don Van Vliet
|4 East 77th Street, New York City, United States
In 1963, Michael Werner founded his first gallery in Berlin with Georg Baselitz’s first solo show. In 1969, Gallery Michael Werner was founded in Cologne. Since then, The gallery has collaborated with many of the 20th century’s most notable artists. The gallery focuses on artworks by modern masters such as Piero Manzoni, Hans Arp, Francis Picabia, and Kurt Schwitters, as well as European and American sculpture, painting, and drawing. In 1990, Michael Werner Gallery in New York opened its doors with Gordon Vene Klasen, an eventual partner of the gallery.
The gallery is presently housed in the historic East 77th Street house originally owned by the famed dealer Leo Castelli.
Notable important exhibits include Wilhelm Lehmbruck: Sculptures and Etchings, Sigmar Polke: Lens Paintings, as well as Aaron Curry, Hurvin Anderson, and Enrico David’s debut solo exhibitions in New York. With an exhibit of new works by Peter Doig, Michael Werner Gallery opened a new site in London’s Mayfair in 2012. Peter Saul: Some Horrible Difficulties, Jörg Immendorff: LIDL Works and Performances from the 1960s, and Puvis de Chavannes: Works on Paper and Paintings are among the other notable solo shows in London.
Hauser & Wirth New York (1992)
|Manuela Wirth, Iwan Wirth, and Ursula Hauser
|Martin Creed, Louise Bourgeois, and Roni Horn
|Upper East Side, New York City, United States
Hauser & Wirth New York is one of the city’s most well-known contemporary art galleries and was originally founded in 1992 by three art lovers who wanted to showcase the artworks of talented contemporary artists from around the globe. The gallery has grown in popularity over the years, with new galleries opening in Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, and even the Swiss Alps! Yet, the New York art gallery is undeniably one of the most well-known of these branches. The Hauser & Wirth New York gallery is renowned for displaying a wide range of contemporary art mediums, from traditional sculptures and paintings to cutting-edge multimedia and installation works.
They are always searching for individuals who are creating something fresh and innovative, whether they’re established or just getting started in the world of art.
Among the well-known artists whose works have been displayed at this renowned NYC art gallery are Roni Horn, Louise Bourgeois, Paul McCarthy, Pipilotti Rist, and Rashid Johnson. They’ve also presented exhibits by prominent contemporary artists such as Mike Kelley, Mark Bradford, and Isa Genzken. One of the things that distinguish this New York art gallery is its commitment to the individuals they promote. They are not just concerned with selling their artworks, but also with assisting artists in advancing their careers. As a result, they’ve played a significant role in influencing the contemporary art scene both in New York and abroad over the years.
David Zwirner Gallery (1993)
|Luc Tuymans, Marcel Dzama, Neo Rauch, Chris Ofili, and Lisa Yuskavage
|525 West 19th Street, New York City, United States
David Zwirner, the gallerist and art dealer originally from Germany, founded the David Zwirner Gallery, one of the world’s most prestigious contemporary art galleries. Zwirner was born in 1964 in Cologne and grew up in an art dealer family. He then relocated to New York in the 1990s and set about making a name for himself in the city’s art scene. In 1993, he founded the David Zwirner Gallery in Manhattan’s SoHo area. The gallery gained a reputation for exhibiting some of the most intriguing contemporary artwork of the time.
They are always pushing the envelope and showcasing art that differs from anything you’ve ever encountered before.
Pieces by Yayoi Kusama, Luc Tuymans, Marcel Dzama, and Dan Flavin have been included in some of their most well-known exhibits. The experience of visiting the location, however, is what truly distinguishes this gallery from the rest. The space is just magnificent, with high ceilings and an abundance of natural light, and it’s in the middle of an area known for its vibrant art scene. When you visit the David Zwirner gallery, you are bound to be inspired and stimulated by the wonderful artwork on display.
Greene Naftali (1995)
|Rachel Harrison, Jacqueline Humphries, Dan Graham, Paul Chan, and Helen Marten
|508 West 26th Street, New York City, United States
Greene Naftali Gallery was founded by Carol Greene. Greene was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, and graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. She then relocated to New York City after graduation and started to work at the John Good Gallery in SoHo. She founded Greene Naftali in 1995. She is active with a variety of cultural groups, notably Artists Space, where she sits on the board of directors. Greene Naftali was established in 1995 by Carol Greene and Gloria Naftali, placing it as one of the first galleries to operate in Chelsea.
The gallery exhibits contemporary art in a variety of mediums, including multimedia, music, and fashion, and has a reputation for promoting both young and established artists, such as Dan Graham, Rachel Harrison, Paul Chan, Jacqueline Humphries, Helen Marten, Tony Conrad, and Michael Krebber.
Greene Naftali is also known for its innovative performance programming, which has included performances by the NNCK Blues Band, Thurston Moore, Loren Connors, Dan Graham, and Electrophilia. In 2008 and then again in 2018, Greene Naftali and Matthew Marks Gallery co-organized Painting: Now and Eternity, a ten-year overview of modern painting. Greene Naftali has been listed as a “top gallery” in various publications, including Modern Painters (magazine), Flash Art, and Artnet.
Marianne Boesky Gallery (1996)
|John Waters, Frank Stella, Donald Moffett, and Lisa Yuskavage
|509 West 24th Street, New York City, United States
Marianne Boesky Gallery is a famous New York art gallery in Manhattan’s Chelsea area. Boesky was born in 1966 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and went on to study art history at the University of California in Berkeley. She then worked at different galleries in London and New York after graduation, including the Victoria Miro Gallery. Boesky then established her own gallery in New York in 1996, establishing her as one of the most prominent individuals in the New York art scene. The gallery then relocated to Chelsea in 2005, taking up residence in an exquisite purpose-built facility just adjacent to the High Line.
She re-consolidated her business at her Chelsea shop, expanding to the building right next door, after establishing and shutting venues on both the Lower and Upper East Sides.
She also has a location in Aspen, Colorado. Over her career, she has showcased a diverse range of established, mid-career, and rising artists, including Frank Stella, Donald Moffett, and John Waters. Most of the gallery’s artists are noted for their innovative and experimental approaches to making art. Throughout the years, Boesky has earned a reputation as a savvy and encouraging curator, and many artists acknowledge her role in launching their careers.
Gagosian Gallery (1999)
|Damien Hirst, Ellen Gallagher, Anselm Kiefer, Julian Schnabel, Ed Ruscha, and Andy Warhol
|West 27th Street, New York City, United States
Gagosian Gallery is another highly-lauded NYC art gallery and is famed for its collection of contemporary artworks produced by artists from all around the world. It was founded by Larry Gagosian, often regarded as one of the most prominent art dealers worldwide. Gagosian began his career as an art dealer in the 1970s, after studying at the University of California, selling art posters on the streets of Los Angeles.
He immediately started to establish himself in the art world and began collaborating with some of the most well-known creatives of the era, including Ed Ruscha and Andy Warhol.
Gagosian then founded his own gallery in Los Angeles, which became an overnight success. He subsequently opened another gallery in New York, and today Gagosian also has galleries in Paris, London, Hong Kong, and Athens. Gagosian Gallery has featured some of the most outstanding and well-known artists of our time. Several of the artists, such as Richard Serra, Jeff Koons, and Damien Hirst, will more than likely be familiar to you. However, they also exhibit the work of emerging artists in addition to their roster of famous names.
Half Gallery (2008)
|Anna Park, Daniel Heidkamp, Emma Cook, Joseph Hilton, Rene Ricard, Mark Yang, and Natalie Frank
|235 East 4th Street, New York City, United States
Half Gallery is located in Manhattan’s Lower East Side district and was founded by Bill Powers. Powers was born in Texas in 1974 and went on to study English at Georgetown University. He returned to New York after graduation and started to work in the world of art, initially as an editor at Artforum magazine and then as a dealer at different galleries. Half Gallery, which he then launched in 2008, soon gained renown for its unique programming and intimate setting. The moniker “Half” relates to the space’s small dimensions and intimate setting. Because the venue is only 400 square feet in size, it seems more like a comfortable living room than a typical gallery.
This one-of-a-kind location provides for a more intimate encounter with the artworks on exhibit.
Half Gallery exhibits a wide range of contemporary art, with an emphasis on rising and semi-professional artists. The gallery’s exhibits typically include paintings, sculptures, and photographs that examine culture, identity, and politics. Ryan McGinley, Dan Colen, and Jack Pierson are among the noteworthy artists who have shown at Half Gallery. Despite its small dimensions, the gallery is widely regarded as one of the best art galleries in New York. The gallery’s exhibits are routinely reviewed in renowned art journals such as Artforum and The New York Times, and it has a reputation for identifying and supporting rising artists who go on to attain significant success.
CLEARING Gallery (2011)
|Korakrit Arunanondchai, Harold Ancart, Marina Pinsky, Meriem Bennani, and Calvin Marcus
|260 Browery, New York City, United States
In the late 1990s, Babin started to work for major galleries such as Richard Gray Gallery and Gagosian Gallery. He then opened CLEARING in Brooklyn in 2011. The gallery established a reputation in the city for exhibiting original and thought-provoking contemporary artworks by emerging and mid-career artists from all over the world including Marina Pinsky, Calvin Marcus, Korakrit Arunanondchai, and Harold Ancart. In 2012, the gallery expanded to another branch in Brussels, allowing its American artists to present their artworks in Europe and vice versa.
Both venues have now moved to much bigger premises: the New York gallery relocated to a 5,000-square-foot old warehouse in 2014, followed by a new branch in Brussels in 2017.
While the gallery is best known for its exhibitions and support of emerging artists, it has also arranged exhibits of lesser-known historical artworks: the newly-opened Brussels location was officially launched with a showcase of artworks by Bruno Gironcoli, the late Austrian sculptor, whose estate the gallery represents, and in 2015, the gallery displayed pieces by Eduardo Paolozzi, a pioneer of British Pop art. In late 2017, the gallery expanded to the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
That completes our list of every famous NYC art gallery worth checking out the next time you are in the Big Apple! As we have seen, every New York art gallery is renowned for different reasons. Some of the best art galleries in New York are renowned for showcasing the works of the masters, while others are more focused on presenting the works of newer artists emerging onto the scene.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which New York Art Gallery Should I Visit?
This really depends on what type of art you would like to see! There are apparently more than 1500 different galleries in New York City, so you really are spoiled for choice. First, decide if you would like to see artwork by established artists or new artists. Do you prefer traditional works or more contemporary styles? Once you know the answer to these questions, choosing an NYC art gallery will be easier for you! Or, just take the leap and visit any of them – they will all surprise and entertain you.
What Is the Difference Between a New York Art Gallery and a New York Art Museum?
Museums tend to focus on works by older artists that are historically renowned, whereas galleries focus on contemporary artists. While they both display art, galleries are the places where you purchase art. Museum art pieces are generally too valuable and significant to sell to the public.
Nicolene Burger is a South African multi-media artist, working primarily in oil paint and performance art. She received her BA (Visual Arts) from Stellenbosch University in 2017. In 2018, Burger showed in Masan, South Korea as part of the Rhizome Artist Residency. She was selected to take part in the 2019 ICA Live Art Workshop, receiving training from art experts all around the world. In 2019 Burger opened her first solo exhibition of paintings titled, Painted Mantras, at GUS Gallery and facilitated a group collaboration project titled, Take Flight, selected to be part of Infecting the City Live Art Festival. At the moment, Nicolene is completing a practice-based master’s degree in Theatre and Performance at the University of Cape Town.
In 2020, Nicolene created a series of ZOOM performances with Lumkile Mzayiya called, Evoked?. These performances led her to create exclusive performances from her home in 2021 to accommodate the mid-pandemic audience. She also started focusing more on the sustainability of creative practices in the last 3 years and now offers creative coaching sessions to artists of all kinds. By sharing what she has learned from a 10-year practice, Burger hopes to relay more directly the sense of vulnerability with which she makes art and the core belief to her practice: Art is an immensely important and powerful bridge of communication that can offer understanding, healing and connection.
Nicolene writes our blog posts on art history with an emphasis on renowned artists and contemporary art. She also writes in the field of art industry. Her extensive artistic background and her studies in Fine and Studio Arts contribute to her expertise in the field.
Cite this Article
Nicolene, Burger, “Best Art Galleries in New York – Top New York Art Gallery List.” Art in Context. May 18, 2023. URL: https://artincontext.org/best-art-galleries-in-new-york/
Burger, N. (2023, 18 May). Best Art Galleries in New York – Top New York Art Gallery List. Art in Context. https://artincontext.org/best-art-galleries-in-new-york/