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Metro Pictures on West Twenty-Fourth Street.
Metro Pictures on West Twenty-Fourth Street.

New York’s Metro Pictures Gallery to Permanently Close

New York gallery Metro Pictures announced today that it will close its doors after this year’s programming, ending a historic four-decade run. An email sent by the gallery cited “a demanding year of pandemic-driven programming, and the anticipated arrival of a very different art world.” 

The decision marks the latest of many upheavals to an art scene whose landscape, like that of most cities, has been transformed by an ongoing pandemic that has decimated jobs, necessitated digital exhibition models, and shuttered small and midsize art spaces.

Founded in SoHo in 1980 by Helene Winer and Janelle Reiring—then the director of Artists Space and an employee at Leo Castelli Gallery, respectively—Metro Pictures provided an early outpost for the so-called Pictures Generation, a loose affiliation of artists associated with appropriated, often ironized imagery. Among the many artists to have staged significant shows there include Louise Lawler, Sherrie Levine, Jack Goldstein, René Daniëls, Mike Kelley, James Welling, and Cindy Sherman, who has been solely represented by the gallery since its start.

In addition to representing Lawler, Robert Longo, Gary Simmons, and the estate of Gretchen Bender, its roster has expanded in recent years to include younger artists making work critically addressing the political and cultural role of images, such as Sara VanDerBeek and Trevor Paglen; as well as artists Isaac Julien, Cui Jie, and Judith Hopf.

In 1996, the gallery moved to Chelsea, in a warehouse on West Twenty-Fourth Street shared with Matthew Marks Gallery and Barbara Gladstone Gallery. Last July, Gavin Brown dissolved his eponymous gallery to partner with Gladstone, where he was joined by many of his artists.

“We have decided to announce this difficult decision far in advance of our closing in order to give the artists we represent and our staff time to pursue other options and to allow us to participate in their transitions,” Reiring and Winer said in a statement.

Reiring and Winer plan to announce their 2021 exhibition schedule in the coming days. “We are extremely grateful to all of the brilliant artists we have worked with over the past 40 years and to our excellent staff, who have sustained the gallery and its program,” they said. “We would also like to thank all of the critics, curators, collectors and fellow dealers with whom we have worked over the years.”

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