An artist-run space is a gallery or other facility operated or directed by artists, frequently circumventing the structures of public art centers, museums, or commercial galleries and allowing for a more experimental program.
The two main artist-run spaces from Buenos Aires were Belleza y Felicidad and APPETITE, both set the standards for emerging art in Argentina. APPETITE was a gallery was the first Argentinian gallery to be accepted at Frieze, London, and encouraged a lot of galleries to its San Telmo barrio.
Many artist-run spaces exist in Australia. These spaces are often provided with funding assistance by government and state funding bodies. Notable examples of current or recent artist-run projects and spaces include:
Artist-run centre is the common term of use for artist-initiated and managed organizations in Canada. Centres follow the not-for-profit arts organization model, do not charge admission fees, are non-commercial and de-emphasize the selling of work. The centres were created originally in response to a lack of opportunity to present contemporary work in Canada and a desire to network with other artists nationally and internationally. In the 1990s there were over 100 artist-run centres across Canada. There are currently at least 60 artist-run centres with continuous operating funding.
The primary source of funding for artist-run centres is the Canada Council which has a specific program of two-year operating support for artist-run centres. Most centres also receive funding from the Provincial governments, most of which have an arts council to financially assist individual artists and arts organizations. Centres may also receive funding from their local municipal or city governments. Centres sometimes will secure funding for specific projects from corporations that manage lottery earnings or public and private foundations. Centres have tended not to pursue individual sponsors or patrons, neither corporations nor individuals, in part because they are in a critical relationship with the traditional and established art system of museums which have the resources to pursue that type of support.
Although varying widely in structure, contemporary spaces like Ormston House, Pallas Projects, Sample-Studios, and 126 Artist-run Gallery have all emerged in the Republic of Ireland in the last 25 years.
Following the Financial crisis of 2007–2008, a number of Irish cities experienced high levels of commercial vacancies. Annette Moloney, curator and author of Art in Slack Spaces (2010), "notes that artists [were] increasingly making use of the recession as an opportunity to use vacant shops." At this time, artist initiated projects like The Complex, Block T, Basic Space, The Joinery, and This is Not a Shop, availed of such spaces in Dublin, while Occupy Space, Ormston House, Raggle Taggle Consortium, and Faber Studios appeared in Limerick. Additionally, Basement Project Space, and Sample-Studios/Tactic in Cork, as well as 126 and projects by Engage Art Studios in Galway appeared more or less simultaneously.
In 2015, 126 published FOOTFALL: Articulating the Value of Artist Led Organisations in Ireland. The Future is Self-Organised – Artist-Run Spaces was an exhibition curated by Pallas Projects at the Limerick City Gallery of Art. A number of artist-run spaces and projects from Ireland and abroad were represented, as well as artists whom have worked with Pallas over its 20 year history, in this 2015–16 exhibition. Pallas then co-published, with Onomatopee, Artist-Run Europe: Practice/Projects/Spaces later in 2016. It is a collection of experiences, and essays by various artist-run projects in Europe.
Bikini Wax is an experimental project in Mexico City of exhibitions, events, parties, and lectures that was started in the house of the artists. La Feria de la Acción (The Action Fair) was an artist-run fair that ran parallel to Zona Maco and Material Art Fair in Mexico City in 2020. It showed only interactive, relational, or performative works.
A number of artist-run spaces have flourished throughout New Zealand since the 1990s. Some have been short-lived, whereas others have secured long-term funding and been operating for more than a decade.
- The Blue Oyster Art Project Space was established in Dunedin in 1999; its founding members were Emily Barr, Steve Carr, Wallace Chapman, Douglas Kelaher and Kate Plaisted. The gallery is currently located on Dowling Street in Dunedin's CBD and is funded by Creative New Zealand and Dunedin City Council. It is overseen by a board of Dunedin artists and arts professionals.
- The Physics Room in Christchurch emerged from South Island Art Projects, an organisation that in 1992 began presenting temporary and public art events without a formal location. In 1996 The Physics Room was established in a gallery space in the Christchurch Arts Centre. The gallery is now located in the CBD on Tuam Street and receives operational funding from Creative New Zealand.
Artist-run spaces had a particularly strong effect on urban regeneration in Glasgow, where the city won the accolade 'European Capital of Culture' in 1990 largely due to the large number of artist-run exhibition spaces and galleries, such as Transmission Gallery. Curator Hans Ulrich Obrist coined the term "The Glasgow Miracle" to describe this.
East London has continued to house a number of artist-run spaces. In Shoreditch, London Charles Thomson founded the Stuckism International Gallery in 2002 warehouse. The last show there was in 2004. The Transition Gallery was founded in October 2002 in a converted garage close to Victoria Park, Hackney, London, and is run by artists Cathy Lomax and Alex Michon to show work by established and new contemporary artists. In 2016, the artist-run project Auto Italia South East relocated to Bethnal Green after programming and producing artists work nomadically in donated or squatted buildings since 2007.
studio1.1 was founded as a co-operative in 2003 and is run by artists Michael Keenan and Keran James. The gallery is an artist-run, not-for-profit space, located in a former sex shop in Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, East London.
Chicago has a long tradition of artist-run spaces and projects dating back to the late 1800s. In 1876 artist D. Knight Carter founded Vincennes Gallery of Fine Arts which was reorganized in 1880, by Frank C. Bromley, Henry Arthur Elkins along with other artist to establish a permanent gallery and residency for studio artists. In 1930, artist Increase Robinson ran a studio gallery in her Dianna Court Studio where she exhibited both her own work and the work of others. The Hyde Park Art Center was established in 1939 and still produces programming. And the Contemporary Art Workshop established in 1950 by Jack and Lynn Kearney, Leon Golub, Cosmo Campoli, Ray Fink, Al Kwitz and held programming through 2009.
In 1984, the exhibition Alternative Spaces curated by Lynne Warren at the Museum of Contemporary Art catalogued the scores of artists and artists' spaces to emerge in Chicago including a wave of alternative spaces that emerged from 1960s through 1984 including Artemisia Gallery (1973-2003), ARC Gallery (1973-), Gallery Bugs Bunny (1968-1972), N.A.M.E. Gallery (1973-1997), NAB Gallery (1974-1984), Randolph Street Gallery (1979-1998), 1019 W. Lake St./Noise Factory (1981-1985), W.P.A. Gallery (1981-?) and Axe Street Arena (1985-1989). One the factors contributing to the demise of the artist run spaces in Chicago in the late 1980s, was the reduction of public funding for artists and for the arts.
In 2009, Artist-run Chicago was mounted by the Hyde Park Art Center and featured notable artist-run spaces operating between the late 1990s an 2009 including 1/Quarterly (2002-2004), artLedge (2004–2006), Butchershop (1997-2008), Co-Prosperity Sphere (2006-), devening projects + editions (2006-), Deluxe Projects (2003-2003), Dogmatic(1997-2008), joymore (2000-2003), Julius Caesar(2008-), Law Office(1999-2002), Margin Gallery(1999-1999), mini dutch (2007-2009), Modest Contemporary Art Projects (2000-2004), NFA Space (1996-2002), Normal Projects, Old Gold, Polvo (1998-2007), Roots & Culture (2006-), Standard (1999-2004), Suitable (1999-2005), Teti (2005-2007), The Suburban (1999-) and VONZWECK (2005-2008).
Los Angeles has a tradition of artist run spaces dating back to at least the 1950s. Chris Burden's Shoot piece took place in a space run by artist Barbara T. Smith. Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions was founded by several individuals including two artists. Machine Project, Pretend Gallery, Actual Size, and Human Resources are all managed by artists. Currently Los Angeles has a vibrant artist-run scene, as evidenced by an artist-run fair called Other Places Art Fair (OPAF), consisting of almost entirely artist-run spaces and initiatives. 2010, ART2102 of Los Angeles published the book and an online directory, Dispatches and Directions: On Artist-Run Organizations in Los Angeles, which documents these initiatives from 2005–present.
During the 1950s in Manhattan, artist-run co-ops became the alternative to the uptown Madison Avenue galleries that catered mostly to wealthy blue-chip and European art-oriented collectors. From the early 1950s to the early 1960s the Tenth Street galleries located mostly in the East Village in lower Manhattan became the proving ground for much of the contemporary art that achieved popularity and commercial success in the decades that followed. During the 1960s, the Park Place Gallery became the first important contemporary gallery in SoHo. Park Place gallery was an artist-run cooperative that featured cutting-edge Geometric abstraction. Eventually, by the 1970s, SoHo became the new center for the New York art world as hundreds of commercial galleries opened in a sudden wave of artistic prosperity.
Contemporary artist-run galleries include:
- MINUS SPACE is an artist-run curatorial project devoted to reductive art. Minus Space maintains an exhibition space in Brooklyn and curates exhibitions at other venues nationally and internationally. Minus Space also has a location on the Internet enabling it to collaborate with other institutions. The website has a running log of related exhibitions and a chronology documenting the development of reductive and concept-based art.
Savernack Street is an artist-run micro-gallery located in San Francisco's Mission District created and curated by artist Carrie Sinclair Katz. The gallery interior is inaccessible to visitors and artwork can only be viewed by looking through a reverse peephole located on the storefront. The exhibitions usually feature a single piece of miniature artwork that appears larger or life sized when viewed through the peephole.
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