Tim Blum On BLUM’s New Space and What’s Not Changing

BLUM's new space will better serve the gallery's core mission: to create space for artists' voices and to enshrine their projects for public consumption.

A few months ago, the gallery Blum & Poe made waves across art media with the announcement that Jeff Poe would be “stepping back” from the gallery. Poe and Tim Blum can be considered among the founding fathers of the modern Los Angeles art market, and the news soon followed that BLUM, as the gallery is now known, would open 6,200 square feet at 9 White Street, joining a host of other galleries in the march to Tribeca. Changes are clearly underway.

Facade of grey two-story building
The exterior of BLUM’s upcoming New York City gallery location. BLUM

Observer recently had the opportunity to catch up with Tim Blum about those changes and ask about his plans for BLUM.

You’re joining the host of galleries in moving to Tribeca with BLUM. What’s appealing to you personally about New York’s new gallery district?

I love the intimacy of the neighborhood, the charm and the density of the wonderful classical NYC architecture. I love the plethora of great galleries operating at all levels, as well as the proximity to Artists Space—one of my very favorite New York institutions.

Your first show at the new space will be an exhibition of Japanese art curated by you and Mika Yoshitake. Why start with that?

I felt it important to enunciate my history and connection with Japan, given the length of that relationship. It’s also my intention to bring these unique facets of recent Japanese art history to New York in ways they have not been seen.

In August, you and Jeff Poe made headlines with news that he’ll be stepping back from the gallery. Now that you’ve had a few months with it: what, if anything, is going to change at the gallery without him?

Change is inevitable, a lot has changed already with the announcement of the new gallery in Tribeca. We’ll share several new initiatives going forward—but the core mission of the gallery will remain the same. We will always prioritize supporting artists and creating space for their voices and projects. We will always be committed to disseminating and enshrining these projects for public consumption and for posterity with new scholarship and documentation, in the form of publishing, public programs and more.

In 2020, you told Artnet that when you started your gallery, “there was no art world, per se.” What have been the biggest changes in this business that you’ve witnessed since 1994?

The biggest, most fundamental change is the absolute global nature of the art world. Having begun my career in Japan when that was distinctly not the case, this has been something quite profound to witness.

As a longtime Los Angeles dealer, what do you make of the growth of that city as a destination for art?

This always seemed inevitable to me but took far longer than anticipated. One of the reasons I wanted to be in LA was the large group of superb artists who were based there—much in the same way that I wanted to open in Tokyo. I follow the art.

Your gallery is associated with having helped build the market for Mark Grotjahn, Yoshitomo Nara and Henry Taylor. To what extent is BLUM about cultivating new names, versus supporting the already healthy roster?

BLUM strives for a balance: preserving and nourishing our longstanding relationships while remaining curious and open to cultivating new alliances.

You’ve had a gallery in Tokyo since 2014. Why do you think the Asian art market has been so resilient in the face of greater uncertainty?

There has been a profound excitement and somewhat newfound discovery for collecting art in much of Asia at all levels. This is still the case in our experience there.

Tim Blum On BLUM’s New Space and What’s Not Changing