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Guide to Gallery Hopping in Chelsea

March 19, 2019

When furnishing a new apartment or home, one of the greatest pleasures (and often challenges) is decorating its walls. Fortunately, NYC is known for its artistic edge, with an incredible number of establishments offering striking pieces for a variety of tastes.

There is one neighborhood particularly renowned for its abundance of galleries and artists: Chelsea. Over 200 galleries can be found west of 6th Avenue between 14th and 34th Streets. While most are open Tuesday through Saturday, and you can pop in any time, it’s worth it to plan your visit for the premiere of a new show. The reception for an art opening can be a prime chance to meet artists and socialize with other artistically inclined attendees. 

Openings commonly take place on Thursday nights, and it’s easy to make a night of it. Grab a bite at one of Chelsea Market’s stalls or restaurants, then head to the galleries, where you’ll sip glasses of complimentary wine, listen to new music, and possibly discover a statement piece that speaks to your soul—or at least to the aesthetic of your living room.

Here are a few of our favorite galleries in Chelsea: 

Matthew Marks Gallery

522 & 526 West 22nd Street
523 West 24th Street
New York, NY 10011

Matthew Marks Gallery, with multiple locations in Chelsea, expanded bicoastally to LA in 2012. The gallery handles work in all media, including painting, sculpture, photography, film, drawing, and printmaking. Maintaining 18,000 square feet of exhibition space and presenting thirteen to fifteen exhibits each year, Matthew Marks Gallery represents multi-generational European and American artists, many of whom are of international renown. 

Jack Shainman Gallery

513 West 20th Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues)
New York, NY 10011

Jack Shainman Gallery presents approximately twelve exhibitions a year. The focus of this gallery is to champion artists from around the world—particularly artists from Africa, East Asia, and North America—not only in their gallery, but also at important art fairs and museums, and by publishing major catalogs and scholarly essays. Featured artists here have won prestigious awards and have been documented in countless publications, monographs, and films. They have been featured in world-renowned museums from the Guggenheim and the Whitney to MoMA New York and MoMA Vienna. Check out the forthcoming Paul Anthony Smith exhibit for an interesting take on issues of identity within the African diaspora.

Rush Arts Gallery

526 West 26th Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues)
New York, NY 10001

Rush Arts Gallery strives to foster the careers of emerging artists. Run by Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, attending an exhibition at this gallery can be an incredible opportunity to find the work of up-and-coming talent. You’ll be supporting a good cause as well—the foundation does admirable work to bring art to underserved, inner-city children.

Gagosian Gallery

522 West 21st Street
555 West 24th Street (both between 10th and 11th Avenues)
New York, NY 10001

You may have heard of this gallery, which has grown in 30 years from one Los Angeles location to 16 exhibition spaces throughout the world (five of which are in New York). Founded by Larry Gagosian, the gallery specializes in modern and contemporary art, and features work by leading international artists including Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, Ellen Gallagher, and Richard Serra. Beyond exhibits, Gagosian produces a quarterly magazine showcasing its art and artists, and catalogues raisonnés. If you’re in the neighborhood, it’s definitely worth stopping by Gagosian to see the latest pieces being presented.

When gallery hopping in Chelsea, it’s best to be open-minded. Following a crowd into a gallery you were not expecting to visit could lead to discovering your new favorite artist.

If you have the time, be sure to explore the rest of the neighborhood. For ideas about where to go and what to do, check out our guide to Chelsea.

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