Art openings have very little to do with art, and more to do with observing people observing art. In one of the best cities for people-watching, the Thursday and Friday night gallery scene is prime spotting ground for some of the most interesting, or just visually captivating, characters in the city. Rather than traipse around Chelsea looking for what might prove stimulating, focus on these hotspot galleries to see great art, or at least exciting people. Feel free to dress up, use that vocabulary from your Introduction to Art History class, and stock up on the free white wine that makes gallery hopping the most glamorous pre-game in the city.
The Pace Gallery
Pace, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in September, is a major institution in the worldwide art market. The gallery recently closed its anniversary exhibition on Oct. 23, which featured foundational works from its history, including Jasper Johns’ “Three Flags” and Andy Warhol’s “Marilyn Diptych.” Ready to enter a new era of showcasing cutting edge 20th- and 21st-century works in its four Manhattan spaces, Pace will open three new shows at the beginning of November. If students can’t make it to all the spaces, they should be sure to visit the newly-acquired location at 510 West 25th St., which displays some of the best pieces by contemporary artists today. This includes Richard Tuttle, who spoke at Columbia’s Miller Theatre on Oct. 28.
Photographer and architect Hiroshi Sugimoto’s exhibition, “The Day After,” opens Nov. 6 at the 545 West 22nd St. (between Tenth and Eleventh avenues) location. Other gallery locations have openings on Nov. 9 and Nov. 12.
Gladstone’s large space is perfect for the conceptual, contemporary installation art it exhibits—not to mention the large crowds it attracts. The gallery has locations in Brussels, as well as on West 24th Street—though the most impressive outpost is at West 21st. Lofty ceilings and tall, stark walls leave room for the huge pieces it typically hosts, and a little more breathing room for the spectator. With its range of exhibitions, from the punk aesthetic of artists Raymond Pettibon and Banks Violette to the more delicate work of Matthew Barney (think gold-leaf butterflies inscribed into books), Gladstone attracts a diverse crowd, both in age and taste.
Gladstone opens Wangechi Mutu’s “Hunt Bury Flee” Saturday, Oct. 30 at the 530 West 21st St. (between Tenth and Eleventh avenues) location.
This international gallery, which has three outposts in New York City, shows some of the most established artists in the world—think Pablo Picasso, Damien Hirst, and Cy Twombly. Its expansive white-walled spaces, two in Chelsea and one in Midtown, also host some of the most spectacular openings. Large pieces by both contemporary and modern artists make for a museum-like experience, though without the admission fee. If students are able to fight through the crowd to see the work, they will be in for a treat. For students who can’t get in, don’t worry—they should just keep their eyes out for the likes of Bono, Mick Jagger, and James Franco, all of whom have attended Gagosian openings.
One of the Chelsea locations of Gagosian Gallery(522 West 21st St., between Tenth and Eleventh avenues) opens a major survey of Robert Rauschenberg’s work on Oct. 29 from 6-8 p.m.