Recent Art Moves in Chelsea Show the Neighborhood Is Alive and Well

All the change happening right now suggests the neighborhood is in one of those gallery busts. But it’s not. It’s really, really not. 

For a few years now, trend pieces have pointed to the number of galleries moving to Tribeca as a sign that the boom years for Chelsea’s gallery district are over. “The Galleries That Transformed Chelsea Can’t Pay the Rent,” Bloomberg wrote in 2015, citing the fact that luxury buildings seemed to be replacing the cutting-edge spaces that transitioned the neighborhood from industrial warehouse hub to the capital of the avant-garde.

DIA Chelsea. Dia Art Foundation © Elizabeth Felicella

In the years that followed such stories were proven to be correct, with Tribeca being the new home for trendy gallery outposts, and Chelsea attaining absurd levels of baroque for its new condos, like the one where Aaron Judge lives.

This past spring it was announced that Marian Goodman would open in Tribeca “on the same block as outposts of David Zwirner and Pace Gallery, as well as younger dealerships like Deli Gallery and Bortolami,” not far from Jack Shainman and Alexander Gray Associates. Tribeca has become so established that last year The Art Newspaper asked in a headline if it could “avoid repeating the boom-and-bust cycle of previous New York City gallery districts?”

So all this might make you think Chelsea is in one of those gallery busts.

But it’s not. It’s really, really not.

Art gallery in New York City
Art is alive and well in Chelsea. Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

This past week alone saw news that despite difficulties David Zwirner will move forward with his $50 million space in Chelsea, which he called, “arguably the world’s premiere art district.” Just last week Hauser & Wirth announced a new space in Chelsea—this, in addition to the headquarters they opened on 22nd Street in 2020. David Kordansky opened in the neighborhood just last year, as did the Mexico City gallery Kurimanzutto. Petzel has just moved its flagship to a big new home on 25th Street, not far from Pace’s multi-floor space down the block, built in 2019.

This past spring, Artnet’s Tim Schneider did a study with the help of the folks at the See Saw app to calculate gallery density across New York’s neighborhoods. You can read the whole thing here, but one of its takeaways was that Chelsea “has hosted the densest concentration of galleries in New York for nearly all of the last nine years, including as of this article’s publication. It’s under no imminent threat of losing its crown.”

Now that its days of warehouses are far behind it, one wonders who else would even be suited for ground floor tenancy besides blue chip art galleries. It’s not as though the foot traffic there is in the market for anything else. The recent moves by Zwirner and Hauser & Wirth only confirm what we’ve known for some time: while some galleries may have relocated, art in Chelsea is here to stay.

Recent Art Moves in Chelsea Show the Neighborhood Is Alive and Well