A Kinder, Gentler Art World When Galleries Share?


Amid the gossip of this artist leaving that gallery, or that dealer snatching away this hot young artist, a kinder, gentler trend has quietly emerged. Galleries are jointly representing or mounting exhibitions of a single artist.

Currently, works by Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky can be seen at New York’s Howard Greenberg Gallery, on 57th Street, and Bryce Wolkowitz, in Chelsea. It is the artist’s first show at each space. He was formerly represented in New York by Charles Cowles, which closed in 2009. Greenberg is presenting an overview of work while Wolkowitz is focusing on Burtynsky’s new series “Monegros,” abstract images of dryland-farming fields in northern Spain.

Speaking by phone from Paris, Wolkowitz told A.i.A. that he and Greenberg have known each other for 25 years, and saw this as a mutually beneficial opportunity. Greenberg, he said, was a pioneer in the industry and is known for his expertise in vintage photography and for his museum connections. Wolkowitz, on the other hand, focuses on contemporary work. “For an artist like Burtynsky who’s been showing for over 25 years,” he said, “it makes sense to have two galleries.” Wolkowitz collaborated with Greenberg in 2009 for a Bruce Davidson survey exhibition, and with Bonni Benrubi last year for a show of work by Abelardo Morrell.

In October, David Zwirner and Maccarone galleries announced that they were co-representing Carol Bove, who currently has a large-scale installation on view in the Arsenale at the Venice Biennale. Bove has shown with Maccarone for six years, and her works have become increasingly ambitious. The gallerists are good friends, according to Angela Choon, a partner at Zwirner, who said that Maccarone approached the elder gallery to help realize some of Bove’s larger projects. “We have more resources and experience working on a larger scale,” says Choon.

When extra resources are called for, galleries will often team up with partners in other cities or countries so that there is no direct competition for an artist’s market. Choon said that this is the first time Zwirner has partnered with another U.S. gallery. This type of arrangement, she said, “puts the art and artist forward instead of the gallery.” In a press statement, David Zwirner asserts that “the art world is typically seen as a highly competitive place, yet it can also be extraordinarily collegial.” Michele Maccarone reciprocates the praise, noting that Zwirner “has been a supporter and friend of our program since day one.”

Two other galleries struck a similar, though one-time, arrangement in January. Gavin Brown’s Enterprise (GBE) in the West Village and Canada, an artist-run space on the Lower East Side, mounted concurrent exhibitions of works by Joe Bradley. Gavin Brown showed large-scale paintings, priced from $40,000 to $70,000, while Canada, Bradley’s longtime gallery, presented silkscreens, priced between $30,000 and $50,000. Both galleries took works by Bradley to the recent Frieze fair in London. As reported on Bloomberg.com, prices for Bradley’s works have risen 1,100 percent since 2006.

That’s the juncture at which many artists make the leap from their emerging gallery to a more established one with stronger connections to top collectors and deep pockets.

Canada, which gave Bradley his first show, has the scrappy esthetic and ethos that jibes perfectly with Bradley’s work. And that, says Phil Grauer, a co-owner of Canada, along with the familial environment, contributes to Bradley’s loyalty to the gallery. “Joe called the shots,” he said. “We’ve never had a poaching experience, but there does seem to be a difference” with these arrangements, he reflected. “It was a little more carnivorous in the past.” Grauer was pleased with the collaboration. “It was totally above-board,” he said, and he would consider doing another.

Maybe it takes a certain kind of gallery to agree to share. Last May, Gavin Brown and Maccarone, who are neighbors, jointly mounted exhibitions of the works of Rob Pruitt and Nate Lowman. Lucy Chadwick, director at GBE, also emphasized the close relationship between the two galleries. “It was a natural partnership,” she said, adding that the communal endeavors are more productive and “certainly a nicer way of working.” GBE also has a partnership with Michael Werner, for which the two mount concurrent shows of Peter Doig. “Everyone benefits” from these arrangements, said Chadwick, adding “the artist’s interests are at the center.”

Installation View: Carol Bove at the 2011 Venice Biennale.