Over the past two years, the commercial art world in New York has undergone profound changes, with numerous galleries relocating and others closing. Tonight, word came of undoubtedly the biggest shift yet, with dealer Andrea Rosen, a 27-year stalwart of the scene, announcing in an email, “I will no longer have a typical permanent public space and therefore no longer represent living artists. This transition will transpire over the next few months.”
The lengthy email said that, going forward, the estate of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, whose work Rosen has long represented, will now be represented by the New York and London powerhouse David Zwirner Gallery and Rosen.
Rosen’s roster includes David Altmejd, Lizzie Fitch/Ryan Trecartin, the estate of Tetsumi Kudo, Matthew Ritchie, Mika Rottenberg, and other well-established artists.
I have reached out to the gallery for details on the transition and will update this post as information become available. Rosen’s letter follows in full below.
I’m writing to you about some important information both regarding Felix Gonzalez-Torres and the gallery.
In my role as the executor of the Estate of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, I am excited to let you know that the work of Felix Gonzalez-Torres will be co represented by my gallery, the Andrea Rosen Gallery, and David Zwirner Gallery.
My greatest gift in life, after the privilege of having a daughter, is the ongoing honor to work with and for Felix. He is the backbone of my thinking, my constant inspiration, and his works are an astoundingly ever relevant blueprint of how to move forward each day of my life.
As one of the most influential and significant artists of our time, it simply makes sense that the work of Gonzalez-Torres deserves the attention and stewardship of more than one gallery providing a multi pronged support structure.
I find myself extremely interested in collaboration as well as encouraging and reigniting the spirit of our community working together. I am very much looking forward to both partnering with David, as well as for each of our individual strengths to benefit the legacy of Gonzalez-Torres. While I will continue to have the freedom to work with Felix’s work as I always have, I am also looking forward to adding David’s dedication to Felix’s ideals. This also affords me the opportunity to work more with and in The Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation as I feel strongly that there is very significant work to be done in the Foundation specifically at this time. I approached David to co-represent Felix, as Zwirner Gallery is the obvious choice, as I very much respect the rigor of David’s program and his gallery’s focus on the holistic representation of artists.
Felix expressed that true equality meant that everyone has the right to be in the center of the discourse. I so often find myself recalling Felix speaking about his pending Hirshhorn exhibition in Washington D.C., like always he spoke with an amazing combination of rigor and optimism… It was 1994, the height of government censoring art and a few years after Jesse Helms had shut down the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition at the Corcoran. Felix expressed to me how he was looking forward to Senator Stevens, who had spoken about going to preview Felix’s show hoping to find reason to close it down. I remember Felix saying: I can’t wait until he sees the two clocks touching, “Untitled” (Perfect Lovers), and it makes Stevens think of himself and his wife and at that moment there can be no recourse because his own ability to be moved by two clocks side by side, ticking together, will mean that my love is equal to his love.
I am always in awe of how Felix was able to pare his work down to the essence…to make objects that are universal, that have the ability to physically and conceptually transform themselves through time…to always be fresh and relevant and in and of the moment. And most of all, always moving and powerful.
When I approached David in November with the proposition, we were talking about quite a typical collaboration of two galleries and how that would unfold…. What I did not expect was that over the course of our many weeks of conversation, that I found myself initiating a secondary internal dialogue. I privately came to realize, parallel to our discussion, that having David Zwirner Gallery share in the responsibility to the work of Felix Gonzalez-Torres or the idea of collaborating with other galleries, freed me to think about what is my true responsibility to our times. What is the most productive role that I can play, not only for Felix but for the role of my gallery, my role in the art world, and the world at large? My clarity evolved over the last few weeks.
I have come to realize that in order for me to be fearlessly open and responsive to our times and the future, requires mobility, flexibility and the willingness to change, and consequently, I have decided to shift my life, and the focus of the gallery, in a significant way. While the gallery will continue to exist, with selective activities, like the representation of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, I will no longer have a typical permanent public space and therefore no longer represent living artists. This transition will transpire over the next few months.
Of course my wish would have been to try to incorporate the depth of my growing intentions within my current immersive and beloved structure. As most people know, the gallery has been all consuming to me, always very happily, even when at the expense of much else. I have always felt that being open to the public and supporting artists was the perfect conduit for everything I care about. Yet I realized that the only way to be truly available and in order to set an example for my daughter of what it means to try to be an active, kind and connected citizen, or to try and live without ethical compromise requires time and the simplification of my life. While it will take a new form, I am one of those rare lucky people who loves and considers my work to be the vehicle for growth and contribution.
I am so very fortunate that the life and current structure of the gallery has afforded me the freedom to make this decision to shift, and I am so very aware of how grateful I am to so many, especially my team at the gallery, for their support and hard work and partnership in the gallery to date. Yet of course anyone who knows me will know that this shift could not be an easy decision as the representation of living artists has been my consuming focus and life-blood for the last 27 years. Above all, I feel most lucky to have had the honor to be immersed in dialogue with the artists I have the privilege to work with and to be in the presence of their work every day as conduits to deep insight and inspiration. It is impossible to express how extremely indebted I am to all of the incredible artists that I represent and I plan to stay connected with each of their careers as well as help in any way that I can in this transition. I believe deeply in the essential role of the public and the viewer and I am honored to have relationships with so many dedicated and impassioned collectors, colleagues in public institutions, and my community of fellow gallerists… whom I look forward to continuing my dialogue with. I look forward to balancing my responsibilities with yet unforeseen engagement and seeing my future structure both of the gallery and outside of the gallery evolve.
With all my warmest regards and gratitude,