David Zwirner

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David Zwirner(c) Dirk Eusterbrock

David Zwirner (born October 23, 1964) is an American art dealer and owner of the David Zwirner Gallery in New York City and London (which opened in October 2012 with an exhibition by Luc Tuymans). In 2013, Zwirner was listed at number two in the ArtReview annual "Power 100" list [1] and in 2012, he was listed at number two in Forbes magazine's "America's Most Powerful Art Dealers." [2]

Early life[edit]

Zwirner was born in Cologne, West Germany. The son of art dealer Rudolph Zwirner and his wife Ursula, he was exposed to art at an early age as the family lived in a house with the gallery on the ground floor.[3] At the suggestion of the art dealer Harold Diamond (the father of Mike D, from the Beastie Boys), Rudolf sent David and his sister to the Walden School in New York for one year.[4] He left Germany for the United States after high school and attended New York University. He studied music and performed as a jazz drummer.[5] He returned to Germany and worked in Hamburg in A&R for an affiliate of the PolyGram record label.[5] He soon moved from working with musical talent to visual artists.[5] He also began to build his own art collection, acquiring works by Bernd and Hilla Becher, Hanne Darboven, and Dan Graham.[5] His first job in the States was with the art dealer Brooke Alexander at Brooke Alexander Gallery.


In 1993, Zwirner opened his eponymous gallery in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City, with the intention of showcasing an international mix of contemporary artists. In its first year, the gallery sold out its Jason Rhoades exhibition.[5] This reception, along with a gallery expansion in 1994, contributed to the gallery’s early recognition. In 1994 the gallery presented the U.S. debut exhibition of Belgian painter Luc Tuymans. Zwirner’s roster during this decade also included Raoul De Keyser, Stan Douglas, Marcel Dzama, On Kawara, Toba Khedoori, The Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark, John McCracken, Raymond Pettibon, Katy Schimert, Yutaka Sone, Diana Thater, Franz West, and Christopher Williams.


The Leipzig painter Neo Rauch had his U.S. debut exhibition at the gallery in 2000. In 2002, Zwirner moved his gallery from SoHo to Chelsea, and in 2006 expanded into its current three main gallery spaces, which allowed multiple simultaneous exhibitions.

Other artists who joined the gallery in this decade included Adel Abdessemed, Tomma Abts, Francis Alÿs, Mamma Andersson, Michaël Borremans, R. Crumb, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Marlene Dumas, Suzan Frecon, Isa Genzken, Jockum Nordström, Chris Ofili, Daniel Richter, Michael Riedel, Thomas Ruff, James Welling, Yan Pei-Ming, and Lisa Yuskavage.

The gallery also announced its representation of a number of estates, including Dan Flavin, Alice Neel, Fred Sandback, and Al Taylor.

From 2000 to 2009, David Zwirner also was a partner with Iwan Wirth in Zwirner & Wirth, a gallery on New York's Upper East Side which focused on private sales. The collaboration yielded a series of significant exhibitions, including Gerhard Richter: Early Paintings (2000); Bruce Nauman (2001); Cy Twombly: Letter of Resignation (2002/2003); Claes Oldenburg: Early Work (2005); David Hammons (2006); Joseph Beuys: Sculpture and Drawing (2007); and Dan Flavin: The 1964 Green Gallery Exhibition (2008).

2010s and Current Activity[edit]

In October 2010, the gallery announced its exclusive representation of Judd Foundation. The gallery presented its first exhibition of Donald Judd’s work from May 6 to June 25, 2011. In October 2011, the gallery announced its representation of Carol Bove in partnership with Maccarone, New York and in January 2012, Doug Wheeler (known as a Light and Space artist) joined the gallery. Yayoi Kusama, Oscar Murillo, Jordan Wolfson, and the Estate of Ad Reinhardt joined the gallery in 2013. [6] In June 2014, Kerry James Marshall joined the roster in the gallery's London location.

In March 2012, the gallery announced its expansion into Europe with a location in London's Mayfair neighborhood. It opened in October 2012 with an exhibition by Luc Tuymans. In February 2013, the gallery also opened an additional 30,000 square foot space on West 20th Street in New York's Chelsea neighborhood. The five-story building was designed by architect Annabelle Selldorf and will become the first commercial art gallery to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.[7]

The gallery maintains an extensive publishing program, collaborating with Steidl, Rizzoli, Radius Books, Aperture and others to produce exhibition catalogues, monographs, and artists’ books. In July 2015, the gallery announced that Zwirner’s son Lucas will join the inhouse publishing house (DAVID ZWIRNER BOOKS) as an editor.[8]


In April 2011, actor, director, and philanthropist Ben Stiller joined with Zwirner to organize Artists For Haiti (Art Auction), an auction to raise funds for education and health programs for children. The auction took place at Christie's in New York on September 22, 2011. It raised a total of $13,662,000, which was above the original estimate of $7.5 to $10.5 million.[9] One hundred percent of the sales will go to support non-profit organizations working in Haiti, including Architecture for Humanity, J/P Haitian Relief Organization, Partners in Health, Grameen Creative Lab, Artists for Peace and Justice, Ciné Institute, and The Stiller Foundation.

In April 2014, Zwirner hosted the annual Acria Unframed Auction to benefit AIDS research and education programs at his New York gallery. Organized by Zwirner partner Ales Ortuzar, the event raised a record-breaking $1 million for charity.[10]

In March 2011, Zwirner and fellow art dealer and parent Christopher D’Amelio organized the art donations for the Grace Church School 25th Annual Scholarship Benefit Auction.[11]

In October 2006 and May 2008, Zwirner organized two charity art auctions, 826NYC Art Show - An Auction to Benefit Children's Literacy, which took place at his gallery.[12] One hundred percent of the 2006 and 2008 proceeds went directly to 826NYC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6–18 with their writing skills. A limited edition catalogue was published by McSweeney's on the occasion of the 2006 auction. The catalogue reproduces twenty-two works of art alongside criticism by eight-year olds.

In 2001, Zwirner organized the "I Love NY Art Benefit" exhibition at the David Zwirner Gallery to benefit the victims of the World Trade Center attacks.[13] A few days after 9/11, Zwirner asked artists who the gallery represented to donate works to the exhibition. He then called on the help of other New York dealers to organize their own benefit exhibitions. The initiative led to a citywide benefit with more than 150 participating galleries and alternative spaces. As with the exhibition at the David Zwirner Gallery, all proceeds raised by the galleries benefited the Robin Hood Relief Fund, part of the Robin Hood Foundation.

Personal life[edit]

Zwirner is married to Monica Seeman.[14] She is a designer and founding copartner of handbag and accessories company, MZ Wallace, located in New York City. They have three children and reside in New York City. In 2009, the family bought a house in Montauk from Bruce Ratner.[15]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Unattributed, "2013 Power 100," ArtReview, accessed, November 28, 2013.
  2. ^ Noer, Michael. "America's Most Powerful Art Dealers". Forbes magazine. Retrieved May 7, 2012. 
  3. ^ Nick Paumgarten (December 2, 2013), Dealer’s Hand The New Yorker.
  4. ^ Nick Paumgarten (December 2, 2013), Dealer’s Hand The New Yorker.
  5. ^ a b c d e Kelly Crow "Q&A with David Zwirner" WSJ. Magazine, April 30, 2009
  6. ^ Vogel, Carol. "Andy Williams Art for Sale; James Turrell at Three Museums". New York Times. Retrieved 19 April 2013. 
  7. ^ Vogel, Carol (March 8, 2012). "Zwirner Galleries Here and There". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  8. ^ "Zwirner prodigy turns to in-house publishing". The Art Newspaper. Retrieved 31 July 2015. 
  9. ^ Judd Tully, "Ben Stiller and David Zwirner Exult as Christie's Star-Packed Artists for Haiti Sale Tops $13 Million," Art Info, September 23, 2011
  10. ^ "Unframed 2014". Acria.org. Acria. Retrieved 24 June 2014. 
  11. ^ Melanie Grayce West. Artists Rally to Raise Scholarship Funds, Wall Street Journal, March 10, 2011.
  12. ^ Angela Ashman, "Going Once, Going Twice...," Village Voice, May 20, 2008 [1]
  13. ^ Roberta Smith, "A Benefit for 'ers of Art and New York," The New York Times, November 1, 2001. [2]
  14. ^ Nick Paumgarten (December 2, 2013), Dealer’s Hand The New Yorker.
  15. ^ Nick Paumgarten (December 2, 2013), Dealer’s Hand The New Yorker.