New York art galleries don’t need velvet ropes or bouncers or clipboard Nazis. They’ve got architecture – forbidding, harshly lit, mostly windowless white architecture – to freeze out the riffraff.
As a scruffy teenager haunting the eighties gallery scene, though, I was unfazed. Through the filter of adolescent angst, nothing looked cooler to me than the city’s art temples, in which I’d be ostentatiously ignored: An icy, fleeting glance from a gallerist would telegraph You are not welcome here.Are you sure I’m not one of the Beastie Boys? I’d attempt to subliminally convey. Or that my daddy’s not rich? (Never worked, but feeling unwanted simply made me defiant: I’d linger even longer.)
Now, of course, the architectural-attitudinal art form known as the New York gallery has become something of an extreme sport, what with all those elaborate Chelsea conversions: taxi garages and industrial spaces turned into soaring art hangars.As an adult, I’m still made to feel unwelcome – but now I’m luxuriously unwelcome. In pristine spaces, with flawless gypsum and perfect 90-degree angles. Rather kind of all those dealers to go to the trouble, I have to say.