When curator and art dealer Ebony L. Haynes joined David Zwirner gallery as a director in 2020, the quick pace of the art world had already been wearing on her morale. For years, she recalls, “artists and I would work really hard on a show, then watch it come down in the blink of an eye.” As a respite from the pressures of rapid turnover, she proposed that she and her new employer create a space where shows could stay open for months at a time. “I felt that if artists and I could do things a bit bigger and slower, we could really go deep and focus on the exhibition together.”
Haynes’s proposal comes to life October 28 in New York City with the opening of 52 Walker, a Zwirner outpost that she describes as a kind of hybrid. It combines the sales focus of a commercial gallery with the curatorial focus of a kunsthalle, the European “art hall” model that welcomes large-scale, provocative, and otherwise unorthodox works. “I’m drawn largely toward conceptual practices—the research-heavy, the site-specific,” says Haynes, who’s already scheduled the initial five exhibitions. The first marks the New York City solo debut of Los Angeles artist Kandis Williams, whose multi-disciplinary works, including collage, text, and performance, critically examine the dynamics of power and identity. Over the next year, shows with Nikita Gale, Nora Turato, Tiona Nekkia McClodden, and Tau Lewis will follow.
Taking its name from its address, 52 Walker occupies the ground floor and basement of a former Tribeca nightclub. Selldorf Architects, the AD100 firm behind the highly considered minimalism of other Zwirner gallery locations, led the renovation with “as little intervention as possible,” Annabelle Selldorf says. Stripped of nearly everything but two existing columns and the original maple floors, the interiors retain “the entirety of a beautifully proportioned, open loft with daylight at both ends.” With three-month exhibitions, 16-foot ceilings, and 10,000 square feet, 52 Walker offers artists the rare luxuries that we often take for granted: time and space. 52walker.com