A glimpse inside Galerie Perrotin's new downtown space
Executive gallery director Peggy Leboeuf, who launched the Upper East Side space in 2013 and has helped steer this “dream project,” graciously led a tour alongside Senior Director Matthew Wilkin through the construction site, which is slowly giving way to what will undoubtedly be as polished as any museum interior. Pointing out various details small and large—how the arched ceilings will pick up on the light, the impressive views of the bustling neighborhood from the sixth-story roof, the skylight to come on the third floor—Leboeuf paints a vivid picture of how elegant the building, a former fabric factory on the north end of Orchard Street, will look in just a few weeks.
“The Lower East Side was a sweet choice for [founder] Emmanuel [Perrotin] because of the charming area, but also the community of artists and galleries around it like Canada, Karma, Rachel Uffner, Simone Subal,” Leboeuf, who has worked with Perrotin since 1996, explains. Perrotin will certainly represent one of the larger specks on the Lower East Side gallery map: a successful yet still relatively young gallery. As to what distinguishes the space from its neighbors, Leboeuf notes, “There are not so many large galleries like ours, except a few great ones like Miguel Abreu and Salon 94, so we offer something different yet sympathetic to the museums, institutions and smaller galleries that exist already.”
Indeed, at more than seven times the size of their previous location on Madison Avenue, the ambitious space is rare for the Lower East Side, where galleries typically have the capacity of just one of Perrotin’s exhibition spaces. “Now we have a building where we can have multiple exhibitions for our emergent to very established artists," says Leboeuf. "The beauty of the space is the many rooms are complementary to each other.”
Perrotin's new exhibition: Iván Argote, La Venganza Del Amor. Photo by Guillaume Ziccarelli/Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin.
The team has chosen to keep the former Beckenstein fabric’s facade and bright signage—“WORLD’S LARGEST VALUES & SAVINGS,” “WOOLENS,” “DRAPERIES,” etc.—intact, paying respect to the 1902 building’s roots and the area’s industry past. This decision reflects a desire to emphatically reject a stereotypical sterile white cube, to embrace the neighborhood’s historic character. As for the architects behind this melding of the past and present: “Peterson Rich Office were chosen because they seemed to understand our needs right from the first interview. It is a very fruitful working relationship,” Leboeuf says. Much like the gallery itself, they are “young and very responsive,” she notes, adding that they have a background working on art spaces: “Miriam [Peterson] on the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia and Nathan [Rich] the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University.”
Above all else, the gallery seems to have the artists in mind. In addition to investing in extensive storage to ensure all work is ideally protected and preserved, the new space will include an apartment for international artists to enjoy while staying in New York, encouraging even more hands-on collaborations. “We have always worked very closely with our artists to provide the right space,” Leboeuf emphasizes, adding that the “Madison Avenue location was a wonderful inspiring first step in New York, but we as we grew, we needed a more flexible space that can be intimate yet work on a larger scale for artists such as Jean-Michel Othoniel, KAWS and Xavier Vieilhan.” Looking ahead to the second phase of the renovation, she reveals, “Jean-Michel will be showing his monumental sculptures, some paintings and smaller glass pieces here in November.”
With all the additional space and possibilities, Leboeuf jokes that the staff won’t know what to do when they are no longer sitting at arm’s length from one another, when calling someone five feet away will seem absurd once again.
Visit the new Galerie Perrotin at 130 Orchard Street. Iván Argote's La Venganza del Amor is on view from its opening on April 27th through June 11th. See more from Perrotin at their website.