West Chelsea: New York's Hottest Art Scene

By Raphael Pallais of The Plaza
May 23, 2012 | New York, United States
West Chelsea: New York's Hottest Art Scene
Photo: Christopher Anderson, New York Magazine
The Family Business gallery in west Chelsea.

Once upon a time, when guests wanted to check out New York’s contemporary art scene, I sent them to SoHo. Today, I send shoppers there instead, and art seekers to west Chelsea — the neighborhood west of Tenth Avenue, where artists migrated once SoHo rents soared and high-end boutiques took over.

In the shadow of the magnificent High Line, the west Chelsea art enclave still retains a bit of the grit that reminds me of the city’s industrial past. Galleries have been carved from old brick warehouses, restaurants from auto garages, and you’ll even find a spot of the old rickety cobblestones.

You can visit small independent galleries as well as heavy-hitters, like Gagosian, and see every style of art imaginable. Just a few highlights on my radar right now include the Cindy Sherman exhibit at Metro Pictures (through June 9) — she’s created huge images of lavishly dressed women and placed them (or displaced, really) before barren, often foreboding landscapes.

Meanwhile The Pace Gallery has the first major US show of French phenom Loris Gréaud, who was the first artist ever to be invited to take over the entire Palais de Tokyo in Paris (he was just 29). His New York show, “The Unplayed Notes,” (also through June 9) focuses as much on the art as on the spaces between the art. It includes pieces that look like they’ve been formed from volcanic rock but are in fact made from the ash derived from cremating Gréaud’s older works and artist’s proofs.

Finally, if you head towards Gagosian on West 21st Street, you’ll stumble on one of the newest (and tiniest) galleries, Family Business. Unlike Gagosian, which exhibits art specifically for deep-pocketed collectors, Family Business doesn’t sell work at all. Instead, its co-creators (artist Maurizio Cattelan and New Museum director Massimiliano Gioni) have designed the not-for-profit space for introducing interesting and experimental art they care about.

All I can say is expect the unexpected.