David Zwirner

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David Zwirner
David Zwirner portrait.jpg
Born (1964-10-23) October 23, 1964 (age 57)
OccupationArt dealer
Spouse(s)Monica Seeman
Parent(s)Rudolf Zwirner

David Zwirner (born October 23, 1964) is a German art dealer and owner of the David Zwirner Gallery in New York City, London, Hong Kong, and Paris.[1][2][3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

Zwirner was born in Cologne, West Germany. The son of art dealer Rudolf 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.[5] At the suggestion of the art dealer Harold Diamond, Rudolf sent David and his sister to the Walden School in New York for one year.[5]

Zwirner left West Germany after high school and attended New York University, where he studied music and performed as a jazz drummer.[6]


On graduating, Zwirner returned to West Germany and worked in Hamburg in A&R for an affiliate of the PolyGram record label.[6] Zwirner moved from working with musical talent to visual artists,[6] and began to build his own art collection, acquiring works by Bernd and Hilla Becher, Hanne Darboven, and Dan Graham.[6] His first job in the States was with the art dealer Brooke Alexander at Brooke Alexander Gallery.[7] In 1993, Zwirner opened David Zwirner Gallery in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City, with the intention of showcasing an international mix of contemporary artists.[8]

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 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).[9]

Zwirner's newest gallery is planned to open in 2021 on West 21st Street in New York City, and will be the first commercial gallery space to be designed by Renzo Piano.[10][11][12][4]

In 2021, Zwirner and his wife Monica proposed to the relevant authorities their plan for the Bridgeford Cottages, an artists’ retreat that would involve the complete reconstruction of 17 cottages and a large single-family house at 31 East Lake Drive in Montauk, New York. The couple also proposed to subsidize the rental fees for the 17 cottages.[13][14]


In 2001, Zwirner organized the "I Love NY Art Benefit" exhibition at David Zwirner Gallery to benefit victims of the World Trade Center attacks. A few days after the September 11 attacks, Zwirner asked its artists 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 David Zwirner Gallery, all proceeds raised by the galleries benefited the Robin Hood Relief Fund, part of the Robin Hood Foundation.[15]

In October 2006, May 2008, and July 2015,[16] gallery artist Marcel Dzama organized three charity art auctions and exhibitions at the gallery in New York, all to benefit 826NYC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting young students with their writing skills. Published by McSweeney's Books on the occasion of the 2006 auction, a special limited edition catalogue reproduced artworks alongside criticism by eight-year-olds.[17] 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.[18]

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 $13,662,000.[19] It said that 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.[20]

In April 2014, Zwirner hosted the annual Acria Unframed Auction to benefit HIV/AIDS research and education programs at his New York gallery. The event raised a record-breaking $1 million for charity.[21] In February 2015, David Zwirner organized the annual auction to benefit Friends Seminary, the oldest continuously coeducational school in New York City. The exhibition featured more than 60 works, many donated by gallery artists, and raised over $500,000 for the school's largest fundraising event to date.[22] In December 2016, gallery artist James Welling selected 65 works for an exhibition and sale to benefit the Foundation for Contemporary Arts (FCA) and grants for individual artists. 16 works were contributed by artists at Welling's invitation and 49 were selected from the FCA's collection, including works from its first benefit exhibition in 1963.[23]

At The New York Times Art Leaders conference in April 2018, Zwirner suggested that upcoming galleries threatened by the rising cost of art admissions to art fairs could be assisted by larger galleries paying more. This was seen as a strategy to prevent the polarised art market from shrinking.[24]

Other activities[edit]


Since 2012 Zwirner has consistently ranked among the top five of the annual "Power 100" list published by the ArtReview magazine;[26] he has been on the list since 2003. In 2012, he was in second place on Forbes magazine's list of "America's Most Powerful Art Dealers".[27]

Personal life[edit]

Zwirner is married to Monica Seeman.[5] 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.[5] Their son, Lucas Zwirner, is editorial director of David Zwirner Books.[28]


  1. ^ "Luc Tuymans unveils new paintings at a London show | Architectural Digest". Architectural Digest. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  2. ^ "VernissageTV Art TV – Luc Tuymans: Allo! at David Zwirner London". vernissage.tv. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  3. ^ Gerlis, Melanie (July 11, 2019). "Brexit prompts David Zwirner move". Financial Times. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  4. ^ a b "David Zwirner". Ocula. Archived from the original on 2015-03-19.
  5. ^ a b c d Nick Paumgarten (December 2, 2013), Dealer's Hand The New Yorker.
  6. ^ a b c d "WSJ. Magazine – Fashion, Travel, Design, Art, Culture, Food, Living". WSJ.
  7. ^ Lubow, Arthur (7 January 2018). "The Business of Being David Zwirner". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  8. ^ "David Zwirner's Art Empire". The New Yorker. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  9. ^ "The Day the Lights Went On". NYMag.com. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  10. ^ "Mega-dealers' taking over the world: David Zwirner plans a new $50m art gallery". The Independent. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  11. ^ "David Zwirner Announces New Renzo Piano–designed Mega Gallery in New York Architectural Digest". Architectural Digest. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  12. ^ "David Zwirner non si ferma più. Dopo Hong Kong, nuovo spazio a New York progettato da Renzo Piano". www.paeseitaliapress.it.
  13. ^ Christopher Gangemi (30 December 2021), An Artists’ Retreat on Lake Montauk? The East Hampton Star.
  14. ^ Shanti Escalante-De Mattei (4 January 2022), David Zwirner Seeks to Launch Artists’ Retreat in Montauk ARTnews.
  15. ^ Smith, Roberta (November 1, 2001). "A Benefit for 'ers of Art and New York". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  16. ^ Wu, Su. "Raymond Pettibon, Richard Prince and More Rally in Support of 826NYC". T Magazine. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  17. ^ 826NYC Art Show: A Limited Edition Catalog. McSweeney's Publishing. August 28, 2007. ISBN 978-1-932416-80-0.
  18. ^ Melanie Grayce West. Artists Rally to Raise Scholarship Funds, The Wall Street Journal, March 10, 2011.
  19. ^ 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
  21. ^ "Unframed 2014". Acria. Archived from the original on 21 January 2016. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  22. ^ Angela Ashman, "Going Once, Going Twice...," Village Voice, May 20, 2008 [1]
  23. ^ "Friends With Benefits: Sales From an Exhibition Aid the Foundation for Contemporary Arts". ARTnews. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  24. ^ Nayeri, Farah (27 April 2018). "Art gallery owner David Zwirner proposes 'tax' on large galleries at art fairs". CNBC. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  25. ^ International Council Museum Berggruen.
  26. ^ Higgins, Charlotte; writer, chief arts (October 17, 2012). "ArtReview's Power 100 list reveals art-world battle for supremacy". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  27. ^ Noer, Michael. "America's Most Powerful Art Dealers". Forbes magazine. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
  28. ^ Sagansky, Gillian (9 May 2018). "Meet Lucas Zwirner, the Heir Reimagining David Zwirner Gallery One Book at a Time". W Magazine. Conde Nast. Retrieved 9 November 2019.

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