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View of Aliza Shvarts’s “Purported” at Art in General, New York, 2020. Photo: Dario Lasagni.
View of Aliza Shvarts’s “Purported” at Art in General, New York, 2020. Photo: Dario Lasagni.

Art in General, Long a New York Stalwart, to Close after Forty Years

The long-running nonprofit exhibition space Art in General will permanently shut down operations as of October 31 owing to the continuing Covid-19 pandemic. Founded in 1981 by artists Martin Weinstein and Teresa Liszka, the widely respected organization was devoted to exhibiting and supporting unconventional contemporary art by a diverse range of emerging and midcareer artists, and altogether put on more than 2,000 shows. The space was for decades a fixture of New York’s downtown scene at its location at the city’s General Hardware Building. In 2015, the facility decamped to Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood, and this August moved to Jersey City, where it was partnering with Mana Contemporary in hopes of expanding its residency program. 

In delivering news of its closure—which arrives just eight months after the appointment of Irene Mei Zhi Shum as executive director—Art in General also announced its last commission, “Project 270: Signs of Change,” which is aimed at getting US citizens, in particular those who identify as millennials and Gen Z, to vote, and its final exhibition, “Dropped By and Found You: #DroppedByAIG,” which by necessity is taking place online. “Project 270” runs through Election Day, November 3; “Dropped By and Found You” will close December 31.

Art in General over the past four decades introduced a number of young artists who would ultimately rise to prominence in the art world. Among these are Marina Abramovic, Allora & Calzadilla, Francis Alys, Patty Chang, Sharon Hayes, Pierre Huyghe, Joan Jonas, Byron Kim, Glenn Ligon, Gabriel Orozco, Elizabeth Peyton, Paul Pfeiffer, William Pope.L, Pipilotti Rist, Dorothea Rockburne, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Walid Raad, and Kay WalkingStick.

The organization will donate its archives, including founding documents, materials about past programs, and the papers of inaugural director Holly Block, who led Art in General for eighteen years, to the Smithsonian Archives of American Art. A full set of Art in General’s publications will go to New York University Fales Library, with additional books and printed materials going to the nonprofit Art and Resources Transfer (A.R.T.), which serves rural and inner-city public libraries, schools, prisons, and alternative education centers across the country.