Does something look different at the tail end of West 22nd Street? Ah, that’s because an historic red brick building has been spangled with new signage for mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth, which has now officially taken residence in the building made famous for housing the Dia Art Foundation for two decades. Hauser leased the space at a rent of $3.8 million a year, and will stay for two years, with the option of extending for another six months.
And why would they extend the stay? Well, they’re constructing a behemoth of a space next door, at 542 West 22nd Street, that will serve as the hub of the gallery’s New York operations and— who knows?—maybe the construction will go over schedule. (The lease on that space is for 42 years, to the tune of $26.8 million, with the option to extend for another 45 years. Can’t wait for that Pierre Huyghe show in the year 2103. This is all happening because the lease was up on Hauser’s current West 18th Street Space—this month’s Paul McCarthy show will be its last—and the owner decided to build condos on the site. That tends to happen around here.)
Construction is underway on the new building (never a bad sign), and continuing on parts of the new temporary home. Not only will Hauser soon have the spaces high up in the building (reached by climbing those treacherous Flavin–adorned stairs), but workers are also rushing to finish the ground-floor space, which is set to house a Rita Ackermann show beginning on November 10. The Roth Bar, a work originally by Dieter Roth that has popped up at places like the Grand Hotel Trois Rois in Basel, Switzerland, and functions as an actual bar, has been moved from the 18th Street space into the Dia building. But wait, there’s more! Hauser & Wirth Publishers have also opened a bookstore in the complex. Art and books and booze. What more do you need, people?
The first show in the new space, on the second floor, is “Philip Guston: Laughter in the Dark, Drawings from 1971 & 1975,” and it’s pretty wonderful—just a bunch of drawings on paper making fun of Dick Nixon, which came out of the artist’s conversations with another famous Philip, novelist Philip Roth. If you think a show making cartoons based on the doofus qualities of a corrupt president might have something to do with Donald Trump—bingo!
“The show was, of course, inspired by this presidential election,” said Musa Mayer, the artist’s daughter, at a press preview this afternoon. She curated the show with Sally Radic of the Guston Foundation.
“We really hustled to get it up before Election Day,” Mayer added.
Before Mayer gave a tour of the show, which includes hundreds of drawings and a great Guston painting, San Clemente (1975), depicting a mad Nixon writhing in pain as veins burst from his really nasty phlebitis–afflicted foot, gallery partner Marc Payot said a few words about Hauser & Wirth’s new Chelsea home.
“The younger generation, they might not know about when Dia was here,” he said. As he talked, drills from the hard-hat squad working furiously on the ground-floor gallery roared every once in a while. Expect construction to continue on that space right up until the opening, and construction on the permanent Hauser space right next door to continue for a long, long time.