Exhibitions

New York Super-Dealers Just Can’t Stop Staging Museum-Quality Shows

alice self portrait New York Super Dealers Just Cant Stop Staging Museum Quality Shows

Alice Neel, “Self-Portrait,” 1980. (Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.)

Over the weekend, The Boston Globe‘s Sebastian Smee noted the increasing prevalence of museum-quality exhibitions by commercial galleries, while also exploring why museums, having “no choice,” are staging exhibitions of the work of living artists, which once was a task reserved solely to galleries.

Unhindered from the bureaucracies that burden museums, commercial galleries have more freedom, can move quickly and can even attract loans from good museums, Mr. Smee writes. The shift to “museum-quality” shows has been happening for years, of course, but it has been particularly strong this year in New York. Gagosian is currently offering up major Fontana and Picasso shows, David Zwirner is showing prime work by Alice Neel and Acquavella Galleries recently staged a huge Georges Braque show, buffeted by a trove of museum loans.

As for why museums are increasingly taking on the work of living artists, the piece has this to say:

“Why no choice? Because the public demands it: People now go to museums not just to find out what was made in the past, but what is being made now. Also, because today’s contemporary art is tomorrow’s exorbitantly expensive art of the past, and if they don’t try to get involved now, these works will never be affordable.”