Artists Space

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Artists Space is a non-profit art gallery and arts organization that was first founded in 1972 in the Tribeca area of New York City. It is now[when?] located in Soho. Artists Space has been the site of provocative discussion and experimentation within contemporary artistic debate, from the postmodern image (Douglas Crimp’s Pictures, 1977) to identity politics (Adrian Piper's It’s Just Art, 1981), to institutional critique (Michael Asher’s Untitled, 1988) to post-conceptualism (Robert C. Morgan's Turkish Bath installation, 1976) and the AIDS Crisis (Nan Goldin’s Witnesses: Against our Vanishing, 1989).


Artists Space was founded in 1972 by arts administrator Trudie Grace and critic Irving Sandler as a pilot project for the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), with the goal of assisting young, emerging artists. Artists Space quickly became a leading organization in the downtown alternative arts scene in New York, which also included burgeoning institutions such as the 112 Workshop (later renamed White Columns), and the Institute for Art and Urban Resources (later named MoMA PS1).

During its first year, Artists Space exhibitions were organized under the strict guidelines of artists chosen to select other artists to exhibit. Other early efforts to engage and help artists included the Emergency Materials Fund, which assisted artists with the presentation of their work at an established nonprofit venue, and the Independent Exhibitions Program, which supported the needs of artists who were involved in the production and presentation of work outside the context of an existing institutional structure. Through the decades, Artists Space has adapted to the shifting needs and concerns of artists and audiences in and outside of New York.

Artists Space has introduced a number of artists to a wider public, amongst them Jack Smith, Joan Jonas, Cindy Sherman, Annette Lemieux, Jeff Koons, Sherrie Levine, Donald Sultan, Louise Lawler, Allan McCollum, Matt Mullican, Laurie Anderson, Barbara Bloom, John Baldessari, Haim Steinbach, Ashley Bickerton, Peter Halley, Lari Pittman, Stuart Sherman, Barbara Kruger, Laurie Simmons, Fred Wilson, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Mike Kelley, Robert Longo, and Jenny Holzer.

In 1978 a punk subculture-influenced noise series was held at Artists Space that led to the Brian Eno-produced recording No New York, documenting James Chance and the Contortions, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, Mars, and DNA.[1]

In March 2007, Artists Space hosted the exhibition REALLIFE Magazine: 1979–1990 curated by Kate Fowle. The show looked at the period 1979–1990 through the lens of this publication and its extraordinary roster of contributors; including Eric Bogosian, Glenn Branca, Critical Art Ensemble, Jack Goldstein, Kim Gordon, David Hammons, Ray Johnson, Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler, Sherrie Levine, Sol LeWitt, Robert Longo, Ken Lum, Allan McCollum, Richard Prince, David Robbins and Cindy Sherman.[2]


In 1979, Artists Space hosted an exhibition of black-and-white photographs and charcoal drawings by white artist Donald Newman entitled "Nigger Drawings."[3] A coalition of artists and critics including Lucy Lippard, Carl Andre, May Stevens, Edit DeAk, Faith Ringgold, and Howardena Pindell published an open letter criticizing the exhibition[4] and organized two "teach-in" demonstrations. (Only one was held. A second was unsuccessful because the gallery locked the doors.)[5] Another coalition of artists and critics including Roberta Smith, Laurie Anderson, Rosalind E. Krauss, Craig Owens, Douglas Crimp, and Stephen Koch published an open letter defending the exhibition and criticizing the protestors whom they accused of “exploiting this sensitive issue as a means of attracting attention" and "insensitivity to the complexities of both esthetics and politics."[6][7] Douglas Crimp told Seven Days "It's damaging to think about the political issues and not the work."[8] Donald Newman told The Village Voice "a lot of what fed this controversy is that my art is real. I'm not some punk who sat down and scrawled these things. There's an intelligence operating here." "All you moralists" Newman said "it takes an amoral kid like me to make things move." He also said he "never imagined that a segment of the art community would object to it.[9] Artists Space curator Helene Winer told The Washington Post "I was surprised that everyone who was offended saw it only in the absolute, slur meaning."[5] She also stated "If anyone has perpetuated the use of that term, it's Black people. They can't use it to the degree that they do and then disallow its use by Whites. I mean we do have some sort of culture exchange."[9] Despite or because of the controversy, the show did well; Charles Saatchi bought three works from the exhibition, Roberta Smith wrote a positive review in The New York Times, and Newman was being represented by Mary Boone Gallery later that year. Bruno Bischofberger exhibitied him in Switzerland and bought more of his work.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ James Chance interview | Pitchfork
  2. ^ [1] kunstaspekte
  3. ^ "The Nigger Drawings, Donald". Retrieved 2017-07-10.
  4. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ a b Trescott, Jacqueline; Trescott, Jacqueline (1979-05-02). "Minorities and the Visual Arts: Controversy Before the Endowment". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-07-10.
  6. ^ Glueck, Grace (1979-04-14). "'Racism' Protest Slated Over Title of Art Show". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-07-10.
  7. ^ "Sources of Harm: Notes on the Alternative Artworld". Hyperallergic. 2014-09-11. Retrieved 2017-07-10.
  8. ^ "Full text of "Heresies Magazine Issue #8: Third World Women (Volume 2, Number 4)"". Retrieved 2017-07-10.
  9. ^ a b c Jeff., Chang,. Who we be : the colorization of America (First ed.). New York. ISBN 1466854650. OCLC 885377983.

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