Michael Rosenfeld Vacates 57th Street for Chelsea


Jean Nouvel’s flashy West Chelsea condominium tower will soon have a ground-floor tenant. The blue-chip Michael Rosenfeld Gallery is relocating there this fall from 24 West 57th St., where it has resided for 22 years.

The 6,500-square-foot new space will be designed by Richard Gluckman of Gluckman Mayner. The firm has designed dozens of art spaces worldwide, including the former DIA Center for the Arts in New York and the Museo Picasso Málaga, in Spain. Construction is under way and is expected to be complete by the end of summer.
Rosenfeld is just one of many galleries relocating from Midtown to Chelsea, including DC Moore and Ameringer McEnery Yohe. This migration has been a drain on what was formerly an art world power corridor.

“After 22 years on 57th Street, we really felt that the gallery needed more room for day-to-day functions and for exhibitions,” owner Michael Rosenfeld told A.i.A. “And the art world has really transplanted itself to Chelsea.”

The gallery specializes in 20th-century American painting, sculpture and works on paper. Rosenfeld is known for its support of African-American artists, including John Biggers, Beauford Delaney and others, as well as contemporary artists Nancy Grossman and Betye Saar. In 2009 it mounted an ambitious two-part survey of Abstract-Expressionist artists. Critics praised its March 2011 show of collages of Romare Bearden.

“I have no doubt that presenting our artists in a new environment will bring much greater attention to them, especially to the relationships that they have to the younger artists showing at neighboring galleries,” Rosenfeld said. “We’re not changing the program at all. We’ll just be able to do it better than ever.”

The distinctive Nouvel building offers a glittering facade of hundreds of irregularly shaped windows facing the West Side Highway. The condos have all sold, the last one just weeks ago, according to a recent article in the New York Times, with prices per square foot averaging $1,850. The successful sales come despite the presence of the Bayview Correctional Facility, a medium-security prison for women, across the street.

Art world neighbors include The Kitchen, David Zwirner Gallery, Lombard-Freid Projects, Chambers Fine Art and Gasser Grunert, all on the same block on 19th Street. The High Line park is also close at hand, and the Whitney Museum will relocate in the nearby Meat Packing district in 2015.

“We will occupy the entire ground floor of the building with the exception of the residential lobby,” said Rosenfeld. “The ground floor was designed as a commercial condominium, and it was extremely unusual that we were able to purchase it rather than lease it.”

This allows the gallery to think differently about their new quarters, he went on. “We know that our real estate future is secure, and we can design it and build it out as if it were our own home. So we’re using the finest materials—in fact they were pouring a terrazzo floor last week.”

Michael Rosenfeld Gallery location, 100 Eleventh Avenue, New York; Photograph by Joshua Nefsky