The attraction of Palm Beach for art galleries

As the pandemic took hold, moving to Palm Beach, South Florida seemed like the latest diversion for the high-end art world, as top American collectors and galleries migrated to the city in droves. affluent islander located 65 miles north of Miami. Over the past 18 months, many New York dealerships have set up satellite branches in and around the lavish 1950s Royal Poinciana Plaza.

Basically, this market trend is holding, not just in the traditionally busy winter months. “During our very successful first season, we realized that there was a whole group of collectors new to us, based in South Florida outside of the winter, and also that some of our customers never returned. not in New York! This has motivated us to expand our presence in Palm Beach year-round,” Pace Gallery President Marc Glimcher says via email. The gallery opened last November in the square, showcasing works by artists such as James Turrell and Tara Donovan.

Pace Gallery in Palm Beach © Courtesy of Pace Gallery

Collector and attorney John Morrissey, who has lived in downtown West Palm Beach for more than 20 years, has witnessed a transformation in the area. “Attempts to escape authoritarian Covid-19 restrictions and business disruptions are what seemed to tip the scales and cause increased migration of New Yorkers to South Florida during the pandemic,” says Morrissey, adding that Florida has always had a reputation for being more “tax-friendly” than New York.

David Maupin, co-founder of the Lehmann Maupin gallery, also embraced a presence in the Sunshine state: “With collectors focused on regional markets, international travel interrupted and art fairs canceled, we recognized a captive audience and seized the opportunity to create a seasonal platform for the gallery. At its Worth Avenue site, the gallery will present four solo exhibitions through April next year, including an exhibition of new sculptural fabric works by Korean artist Do Ho Suh.

‘Oval Doorknobs: Horsham, Providence Homes’ (2021) by Do Ho Suh © Courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin. Photo by Jeon Taeg Su

The gallery owner Sarah Gavlak was the first to have founded her contemporary art space in 2005. “There is a clientele looking for established names, but from the start I have worked with collectors who have and who are confident in their taste,” she says. said. Beth Rudin DeWoody, founder of The Bunker art space in West Palm Beach, has supported Gavlak’s program “since day one,” she says.

Paula Cooper Gallery partner Steve Henry is also impressed by the “vitality and seriousness” of the collecting community (his Palm Beach gallery is the first outside of New York). The gallery’s current exhibition focuses on works on canvas and paper by Japanese artist Atsuko Tanaka, a key figure in the 20th century Gutai movement (until December 11). “The fact that we are opening this rare and remarkable exhibit in Palm Beach is a testament to the caliber of collector we encountered,” says Henry.

Sarah Gavlak founded her Palm Beach gallery in 2005 © Oriol Tarridas Photography

The Palm Beach bonanza also shows how pop-ups can be a way forward in the world of “new normal” art. Brett Gorvy, of Levy Gorvy Gallery, says the satellite model embodies “our philosophy as an international gallery to be both global and local”, confirming that Palm Beach Gallery will hold monthly exhibitions through March from ‘next year. The show No line on the horizon (until December 5) includes works by post-war and contemporary artists who “reinvent the tradition of landscape through the prism of abstraction.”

Sotheby’s opened an outpost in East Hampton in the summer of 2020; a Palm Beach space followed suit in November of that year. “We thought it made sense to bring art and objects closer to where people were,” says David Schrader, global head of private sales at Sotheby’s. In its Palm Beach “gallery location”, the auction house features a variety of items ranging from fine art to jewelry and cars. “We operate a bit like a traditional gallery, that is to say the private branch of Sotheby’s,” he adds.

Untitled (1963) by Atsuko Tanaka © Association Kanayama Akira and Tanaka Atsuko. Courtesy of Paula Cooper Gallery, New York

Untitled (1983) by Atsuko Tanaka © Kanayama Akira and Tanaka Atsuko Association. Courtesy of Paula Cooper Gallery, New York

Sotheby’s is also inviting “guests” to co-curate presentations: Emmanuel and Christina di Donna, the duo behind Di Donna Galleries, will present another “art and design salon” (Selavy) in the Sotheby’s space next February. Highlights from major auctions are also previewed in Palm Beach. But will Sotheby’s stay? “For now, our idea is to be there almost permanently, we like to be part of the community there,” confirms Schrader.

Eleanor Acquavella of Acquavella Galleries of New York said the lease for its Palm Beach site at Royal Poinciana Way has been extended through June. “It allowed us to build and expand our relationship with a wonderful community of dedicated collectors in a place where our gallery plays a different role than it might in New York,” she says.

Sotheby’s Art Gallery at Royal Poinciana Plaza, Palm Beach © Christopher Fay

Impressionist, modern, post-war and contemporary works by art market darlings such as Gustave Caillebotte and Willem de Kooning will be featured in the gallery’s upcoming exhibition. “The world outside of the art market is still very changing, so for now we will continue our presence in Palm Beach alongside our usual schedule of fairs and we will be ready to be nimble if we need to,” says -she.

So, will the Palm Beach boom last? The market only follows money, of course. Notably, 48 billionaires reside in the city, both seasonally and permanently, according to Palm Beach Daily News. “My clients are all scrambling to find rentals in Palm Beach for the winter,” says Nilani Trent, a New York-based arts consultant. “And art galleries and restaurants don’t seem to be going anywhere,” she concludes.

Mildred D. Field