Sep-Jun: Tue-Sat, 10am-6pm; Sun-Mon, closed; Jul: Tue-Fri, 11am-5pm; Sat-Mon, closed; Aug: daily, closed
C, E at 23rd St.
Romanian-born gallery owner Ileana Sonnabend is the stuff of art world legend. After starting out at her first husband Leo Castelli’s illustrious gallery, Sonnabend went on to make a splash (and remarry) when she and her new beau opened spots in both New York and Paris in the ‘60s. They were the first to bring American Pop to European shores through the works of Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol and James Rosenquist. They also became champions of Minimalism abroad, exhibiting Dan Flavin, Donald Judd and Robert Morris early in the game. When the Sonnabends returned to New York in 1971, they moved the gallery into a former paper factory downtown along with Castelli, marking the beginning of SoHo. Their very first show was Brit duo Gilbert & George’s radical “Singing Sculpture,” which featured the two dapper men coated in bronze paint singing the music hall standard “Underneath the Arches.” When, shortly afterwards, confrontational performance artist Vito Acconci explained that he planned to spend two weeks in the gallery masturbating below his installation, Ileana Sonnabend apparently replied, “You do what you need to do.” It should come as no surprise then, that Sonnabend was where superstar Jeff Koons unveiled his kama-sutra-inspired series of pornographic works co-starring his then-wife, Italian porn star Cicciolina.