Are Middle-Tier Galleries Really Struggling?

by Paddy Johnson on November 20, 2013 The L Magazine

Miguel Abreu Gallery on Orchard Street.

Miguel Abreu Gallery on Orchard Street.

This week at The L Magazine, I talk about the expansion of Lower East Side galleries.

After the recent spate of record-breaking contemporary auctions, it might be worth asking, is there an art market bubble? And if so, how far does it reach? Based on the auction results—Christie’s sold a record $691.6 million worth of art—and last year’s ubiquitous articles about the middle-tier gallery squeeze, it’s easy to assume that the money’s at the top. If you have a gallery or auction house selling Jeff Koons or Andy Warhol, there’s lots of money to be made. But those working with emerging artists, struggling to pay the bills? Well, if last summer’s articles on the shrinking middle tier are to be believed, there aren’t hordes of collectors for every price point. (The story was so ubiquitous that the Times even had war time correspondent Graham Bowley on the beat.)

But wait. Is that true? Within the last two years, Lisa Cooley, Bureau, Invisible Exports, On Stellar Rays, Rachel Uffner, Miguel Abreu and Canada have all moved into new, larger spaces. None of these LES galleries seem to be suffering badly. “From my point of view, there’s been steady development” on the Lower East Side, gallerist James Fuentes told me. He arrived in that neighborhood in 2010 after a three-year stint near City Hall, and was quick to point out that growth can be measured both by real estate and new business ventures. “This year, we’ve decided to produce books for artists, like a 500-page book for Joshua Abelow. Project Projects is putting out a book for Jessica Dickenson. And John Macallister—we’re putting that one out ourselves.”

To read the full piece click here.

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