White Columns is heading west—relocating about three-tenths of a mile from its home at 320 West 13th Street, near West 4th Street, to 91 Horatio, near Washington Street. The new location is a block over from the Whitney Museum and will provide the alternative outfit 2,500 square feet of space, which is comparable to its current location. Architect Stan Allen, who designed its present gallery, will also work on this one, and it is scheduled to open next spring.
Staying in the West Village area was by no means a foregone conclusion for White Columns. Its longtime director, Matthew Higgs, told ARTnews that the organization looked in “four of the five boroughs” and had at one point been on the hunt with Artists Space, under then-director Stefan Kalmár, with a view toward sharing a building. (Artists Space, which left its gallery last year and now operates out of its Books and Talks location in Tribeca, is planning to move to a two-story space not far away from where it is now.)
The key thing for Higgs was finding a place where he could get a lease of ten years or more—a challenging task when buildings throughout New York are in limbo, awaiting development, and presenting prospective tenants with shorter options. At the new space on Horatio, he managed to secure a 15-year lease. “That stability is crucial,” he said.
The nonprofit traces its roots back to 1970, when artists Jeffrey Lew, Gordon Matta-Clark, and Alan Saret opened a freewheeling space called 112 Greene Street at that address in SoHo. (Fun fact: the offices of this magazine are now located next door, at 110 Greene.) The name White Columns was coined in 1979 by the Offices of Fend, Fitzgibbon, Holzer, Nadin, Prince & Winters, a short-lived, outré-minded consulting group comprised of those artists, when the gallery moved to a new location on Spring Street. (In a recent Instagram post, Higgs noted that that incarnation of White Columns featured a pool table and hours than ran from 4 to 11 p.m. during the week!)
The move comes as a number of nonprofit art spaces in Downtown Manhattan shift about. In addition to Artists Space, the Swiss Institute, long a denizen of SoHo, is moving, planning to take up residence in the East Village and the International Center of Photography announced just today that it will decamp from its Bowery location to new digs on the Lower East Side.
Higgs noted that, in a charming coincidence, the new location of White Columns will be nearby the proposed location for a new sculpture along the Hudson River by David Hammons, a skeleton metal piece paying tribute, in part, to a site-specific work that was once created with a now-destroyed pier shed by one of those aforementioned cofounders, Gordon Matta-Clark.
Sarah Douglas contributed reporting.