OPENINGS: James Cohan (12.19.18)
If you’ve followed the news at all, you may have noticed a slew of galleries announcing they’re moving below Canal Street, marking a major moment in the (already flourishing) downtown art scene. One of those galleries is James Cohan, opening in Tribeca in the Fall of 2019.
We spoke with James Cohan, Founder, to learn more…
Tell us about James Cohan Gallery....
The gallery opened in the Fall of 1999 on West 57th Street. After working for four galleries since 1982, we opened our own space. It was a dream of mine to have my own gallery since I was 15 years old. After 17 years of great mentors and the opportunity to work with many of the leading artists in the US and Europe, I was emboldened to try to forge my own path.
What makes James Cohan Gallery so unique?
We have a very international program. Each artist’s work is tied to a particular cultural identity with a strong underlying narrative. I view contemporary art as one of several portals into expanding our knowledge base while also surrounding ourselves with beautiful compelling objects.
What inspired you to move the gallery to Tribeca?
To put it simply, our landlord is planning to demolish our one story building and construct a 9 story office tour in its place. In looking for alternative spaces in our surrounding neighborhood, we weighed matters of cost and the character of the architecture and came up short. After 17 years in Chelsea, we felt as if the time was right to look elsewhere. Tribeca affords us the great structural bones of cast iron buildings with history and personality. In 1962 Robert Smithson wrote of the tyranny of the white box, in present-day we are interested in restoring character to a gallery space, reflecting on history and not aiming for anonymity.
What are your plans for the Tribeca gallery?
We will occupy the ground floor of 48-50 Walker Street as well as the lower level. The gallery has been designed by Tom Hut and Jane Sachs of HS2 Architects. We have worked with them since opening our first gallery space in 1999. We believe they have a Laser clear vision of making great spaces to view art and allow the visitor to feel comfortable and at ease. Artists love their work and that is our most important client, without our roster of artists we are nothing.
What can locals expect at the new gallery?
Our opening exhibition, slated for early September 2019, will be an ambitious installation by Josiah McElheny about the notion of an “everyday Surrealism”. As a formal, psychological and political set of ideas, we are anticipating a super memorable premiere.
We will also continue our occasional program called “Impromptu” in which we host a short talk about the current exhibition and pair it with a musical performance. These are open to the public and provide a rare opportunity to hear the artist speak about the work on view.
Photos: Courtesy James Cohan, New York.