Goodman Gallery will open a new location in New York this autumn in a move to establish a more permanent presence for the South African gallery and their roster of artists in the US, as well as gain greater exposure to local media and curators, owner and director Liza Essers says.
The new location on the Upper East Side, opening on 6 September—the week of The Armory Show in New York—adds to the gallery’s existing spaces in Johannesburg, Cape Town and London, where it expanded in 2019. Rather than a gallery space, the New York location will operate as an office and viewing room for “focused presentations” featuring artists from the African continent and the global South, Essers says.
“Finally, the world is really paying attention to artists from the global South, particularly artists that have been less represented in the Western narrative,” Essers says. “It does feel like a very good time to be opening in New York and having a closer presence to the United States.”
The decision to add a US outpost was based largely on the gallery’s goal of connecting with museum representatives, journalists and ctitics who are based in New York or travel to the city more often, rather than seeking to reach American collectors, Essers says (thought she notes the South African Rand is “completely devalued”, making it more cost-effective to have a sustained presence in the US rather than traveling in for art fairs).
Essers says Goodman aims to create a space in New York where curators can come learn about the gallery’s programme and artists without having to travel all the way to South Africa.
“Someone might visit once every few years or once and be able to have a coffee and be more deliberate and really look at an artist’s practice more thoroughly. I’m really hoping that the office will be a homely, comfortable space where curators can come and engage,” says Essers, who took over the gallery in 2008 from founder Linda Givon (née Goodman).
The gallery was founded in 1966 during the apartheid era in South Africa and was one of only a few galleries that showed the work of Black artists. In a 2019 story, the Financial Times noted that if security forces showed up at the gallery’s apartheid-era openings, Black guests had to pretend to be working as waiters.
While the New York offices won’t feature a schedule of public programmes per se, Essers says the viewing room will showcase works by artists including Kapwani Kiwanga (who will represented Canada at the Venice Biennale in 2024), David Koloane, Misheck Masamvu and Gabrielle Goliath.
Opening a permanent space in New York has been in the works for years, Essers adds, noting that the office and viewing room will operate much differently than the gallery’s previous temporary seasonal gallery in East Hampton. “We wouldn’t go and do a pop-up in the Hamptons now. That was a particular strategy for a moment in time,” Essers says. The gallery’s US-based curator, Justin Davy, will lead the New York location as director.
Goodman represents some of the African continent’s most established artists, including William Kentridge, Ghada Amer and the estate of late photographer David Goldblatt. In 2012, the former South African president Jacob Zuma, along with his children and the ANC ruling party, sued Essers over displaying at the gallery a painting called The Spear by Brett Murray, which depicted Zuma with exposed genitals. The case was settled out of court.