New York City’s art scene is legendary, and it’s not just relegated to the city's famous museums. New York's numerous art galleries are some of the best places to see the latest work from some of the world’s most creative artists, including many that are hard to find in a museum. Exhibiting a wide range of mediums, styles, and artists from around the world, art galleries in NYC are ideal for keeping up with the dynamic art and design worlds. Many galleries are concentrated in the Chelsea neighborhood, but Tribeca has recently become a hotbed for galleries, and there are also several on the Upper East Side and in Brooklyn. Best of all? Whether you’re browsing to buy or just want to see evocative art, nearly all galleries in NYC are free.
One of the best Blue Chip Chelsea galleries, David Zwirner is a must-visit for big-name artists like Ad Reinhardt, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Paul Klee, Diane Arbus, Bill Traylor, and Richard Serra. These days, it may best be known for bringing Yayoi Kusama’s Instagrammable infinity rooms to NYC, first in 2017. David Zwirner started in Soho in 1993 and has grown to two Chelsea locations, one on the Upper East Side, and outposts in Paris, London, and Hong Kong.
A cornerstone of the Chelsea contemporary art gallery scene, Larry Gagosian started his namesake gallery there in 1985 after success in Los Angeles. He helped launch many modern artists’ careers, including John Currin, Willem De Kooning, Roy Lichtenstein, and Damien Hirst and is a stalwart of the modern art scene. Gagosian currently has two massive galleries in Chelsea, two uptown on Madison Avenue and another on Park Avenue. Outside of NYC, there are Gagosians in Los Angeles, London, San Francisco, Paris, Rome, Basel, Geneva, Athens, and Hong Kong.
Originally based in Chinatown, this out-of-the-box gallery recently moved to a new space in Tribeca, part of the recent influx of galleries to that neighborhood. Canada was founded in 1999 by Phil Grauer with his wife, Sarah Braman, along with Wallace Whitney and Suzanne Butler (all are artists which is somewhat of a rarity for gallery owners). A bit of a rebel on the gallery scene, Canada is known for championing lesser-known artists and bending the unspoken rules of the art world. Artists who have had previous exhibitions include Samara Golden, Jason Fox, and Lily Ludlow.
Gallerist Dominique Lévy opened her gallery in 2012 and in 2017 teamed up with Brett Gorvy, former chair and head of post war and contemporary art at Christie’s, to form Lévy Gorvy, devoted to post-war, modern, and contemporary art. In addition to the Upper East Side space, there are locations in London and Hong Kong as well. The duo represents artists and artist estates like Alexander Calder, Chung Sang-Hwa, Frank Stella, and Karin Schneider.
This unique space on Union Square founded by artists Sam Gordon and Jacob Robichaux pushes the boundaries on what a gallery can be. It promotes emerging artists via exhibitions, performances, readings, shops, and publications. For example, in November 2019 they partnered with Alisa Grifo and Marco ter Haar Romeny to bring back a pop-up of their much-loved, hyper-curated shop/gallery KIOSK—a SoHo Icon until it closed in 2015.
James Cohan opened his first gallery in 1999 on West 57th Street, featuring the early works of London artists, Gilbert & George. In 2002, the gallery moved to Chelsea and in 2015 it opened a second location on the Lower East Side. Twenty years later in 2019, Cohan moved from Chelsea into Walker Street in Tribeca, which is quickly becoming a new gallery hub in NYC. Stop by to see work by artists like Grace Weaver, Yun-Fei Ji, and Firelei Báez, who recently had a solo exhibit at the Studio Museum in Harlem.
The first all-female co-op gallery in the U.S. and one of the first galleries in Soho, A.I.R. Gallery was launched in 1972 by 20 co-founders as a nonprofit art organization supporting women artists. While it has had many homes, today the gallery is in DUMBO, Brooklyn, and exhibits the work of hundreds of women artists each year, and also hosts events, lectures, and symposia on feminism, art, and more. Helene Brandt, Kadie Salfi, and Joan Snitzer are just a few of the women who have shown their work there.
An artist-run cultural center in Red Hook, Brooklyn, Pioneer Works was founded by artist Dustin Yellin in 2012 as a nonprofit. More than just a gallery (although it is that, too), the red-brick building where Pioneer Works resides dates back to 1866, when it was a factory. Today, visitors will find a technology lab with 3D printing, a virtual environment lab for VR and AR production, a recording studio, a media lab for content creation and dissemination, a darkroom, gardens, a ceramics studio, a press, a bookshop, and multiple galleries. Pioneer Works hosts a rotating schedule of exhibitions, science talks, music performances, workshops, and other free public programming.
Miles McEnery Gallery
Specializing in post-war contemporary art, Miles McEnery Gallery grew out of Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe, which launched in 1999. Miles McEnery was a partner and managing director. That gallery moved from 57th Street to Chelsea in 2009 and today it operates as Miles McEnery Gallery. In 2017, the gallery was renovated and in 2018 a second location was opened nearby. It represents about 30 artists, including David Huffman, Emily Mason, Guy Yanai, and Ryan McGinnis.
At the tender age of 21, Emmanuel Perrotin founded his first gallery in Paris, where is from. Since then, he has opened 18 spaces, including an NYC outpost. First launched on the Upper East Side in 2013, in 2017 the gallery moved to its current, larger location on the Lower East Side. With 25,000 square feet to play with, Perrotin exhibits boundary-pushing art in a light-filled space from contemporary artists like Chen Fei, Emiyl Mae Smith, and Paola Pivi.
Founded by art dealer Barbara Gladstone when she was 40 years old, Gladstone Gallery currently has two Chelsea galleries—one featuring a massive skylight with excellent natural light—as well as one in Brussels. Representing more than 50 artists, visitors might see work by the likes of Richard Prince, Robert Mappelthorpe, Matthew Barney, and Elizabeth Peyton. Gladstone is also known for producing several of Barney’s films.
Founded in Soho in 1989 by Paul Kasmin, Kasmin Gallery moved to Chelsea in 2000, ahead of the curve. Today, its flagship gallery is in a striking building with a 3,000-square-foot gallery space and a 5,000-square-foot rooftop sculpture garden visible to passersby on the High Line. It also has two smaller spaces nearby. Max Ernst, Robert Motherwell, Roxy Paine, Lee Krasner, David Hockney, and Robert Indiana are just a few of the artists who have had works displayed there.