The Paula Cooper Gallery opened in 1968, the first art gallery to open in New York’s SoHo district, with an exhibition to benefit the Student Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam. The show included works by Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Robert Mangold and Robert Ryman, among others, as well as Sol LeWitt’s first wall drawing. For more than thirty years since then, the gallery’s artistic agenda has remained focused on, though not limited to, conceptual and minimal art.
Many shows of historical importance have been organized by the gallery. The first exhibition of Jennifer Bartlett’s “Rhapsody” opened in 1976. Throughout the 1970s the gallery presented the work of then unknown artists Lynda Benglis, Elizabeth Murray, Joel Shapiro and Jackie Winsor. From the mid-1970s on, Jonathan Borofsky presented his neo-expressionist installation shows, complete with scattered photocopies, flashing lights, music or ping-pong tables. Among several Robert Gober exhibitions was a groundbreaking show on gender and identity in 1989. In 1996, the gallery presented an exhibition of paintings, sculpture and works on paper by Yayoi Kusama from the 1950s and 1960s, and in 1999, the work of Dutch artist Jan Schoonhoven, the late artist’s first one-person exhibition in the U.S.
More recent exhibitions of note include Sophie Calle’s “Double Game,” which included the artist’s more important works from 1981 to 2001, organized around her collaboration with writer Paul Auster; an exhibition of Claes Oldenburg drawings from 1959 to 1963; a large-scale Mark di Suvero sculpture exhibition; a Christian Marclay show of altered musical instruments which were subsequently featured in the 2002 Whitney Biennial; and in 2000, a Zoe Leonard show that included a 45-foot installation of second-hand dolls.
In 1996, the gallery moved to Chelsea, to occupy an award-winning 19th century building redesigned by Richard Gluckman, of Gluckman Mayner Architects. In 1999, Paula Cooper opened a second exhibition space, also on 21st Street.
The gallery established its own recording label, Dog w/a Bone, in 2000. To date, Dog w/a Bone has released five recordings, featuring music by Morton Feldman, Petr Kotik and the S.E.M. Ensemble, and Marcel Duchamp’s complete musical work. “Spoken Music,” a recording of a concert held in the gallery featuring works by John Cage, Dick Higgins, Jackson Mac Low and Anne Tardos, was released in early 2003.
Beyond its immediate artistic program, the gallery has regularly hosted concerts, music symposia, dance performances, book receptions, poetry readings, as well as art exhibitions and special events to benefit various national and community organizations. For 25 years until 2000, the gallery presented a much celebrated series of New Year’s Eve readings of Gertrude Stein’s “The Making of Americans” and James Joyce’s “Finnegans Wake.”
In May 2003, Paula Cooper opened 192 Books (www.192books.com), a bookstore and exhibition space featuring key works of literature and history, art and criticism, the social and natural sciences, travel and children's books. Please check www.192books.com to view a detailed schedule of upcoming readings and events.
Paula Cooper Gallery is located in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. Once a mixed, low-income neighborhood on the West Side, Chelsea has become a focal point for artists and galleries. It has a wide reputation as Manhattan's gay mecca, and while that has historically been true, rising acceptance of the gay lifestyle—and soaring rents—has led to a dissipation of the community in the neighborhood. These days, Chelsea is, very simply, a bastion of affluence more than any other social status, with the conversion of many apartment buildings to condos and co-ops and the on-rush of multimillion-dollar brownstones and lofts. In the ever-northward shift of Manhattan's masses, the high prices of Greenwich Village and Christopher Street area (which has boasted a large LGBT community since the 1960s) led many to head north to Chelsea in the late 1980s. In that migration, many have already moved on from Chelsea to the northern climes of Hell's Kitchen and Washington Heights, or east to Brooklyn. While Eighth Avenue between 14th and 23rd Streets formerly had one of New York’s highest concentrations of gay-operated restaurants, stores, cafes, the population transfer changed the demographics once again—you'll find much higher concentrations in Hell's Kitchen nowadays. The Chelsea art scene blossomed thanks to the conversion of garages and warehouses between Tenth and Twelfth Avenues, and likely will become a victim of its own success. What SoHo and the 57th Street area lost in stature has been Chelsea’s gain, and almost all the well-established flagship galleries make Chelsea their base. How did it all begin? In 1987, the Dia Center for the Arts—later known as Dia: Chelsea—became one of the pioneers in the area, establishing its main exhibition facility on West 22nd Street. Ironically, after opening its flagship museum Dia: Beacon upstate, it was left without a Manhattan presence. Plans to move down to Greenwich Village and abut the new High Line elevated park were scuttled, and the Whitney instead grabbed the valuable tract that once appealed to Dia. Of course, the High Line further increased property values, thus begetting additional high-rises between Tenth Avenue and West Street, which in turn brought in starchitects like Frank Gehry and Jean Nouvel, whose creations can be seen soaring from the earth along West Street. You can learn more about these in our new architecture of Manhattan walking tour. While the ethnic diversity of Chelsea was once truly enviable, the neighborhood still remains one of only a few places where housing ranges from high-rise public housing projects to single-family brownstones to new glass condominiums—even on the same block! Some of Manhattan’s most affordable rent-stabilized apartments can be found between Seventh and Ninth Avenues. The historic district has some fine examples of nineteenth-century city dwellings, and small gardens and flowering trees abound. If you think the grounds of General Theological Seminary (440 West 21st Street) look familiar, that's because it is frequently functions as a set for the TV show Law & Order! Even seminaries have to make money, and thus G.T.S. (as it's known) demolished its former entrance on Ninth Avenue to make way for (what else?) luxury condominiums. At its Tenth Avenue entrance, G.T.S. created one of Manhattan's most charming niche hotels, the Desmond Tutu Center, named after the great South African archbishop. Speaking of hotels, Chelsea has no shortage of great places to stay and to eat. On Tenth Avenue you'll find the renowned tapas of Tia Pol and its offshoot El Quinto Pino just two blocks away. There's the upscale Cookshop nearby, and further south on Tenth Avenue you'll find the Iron Chef's Morimoto at the great Chelsea Market, also home to Buddakan on the Ninth Avenue side.
There are no events taking place on this date.