Timothy Taylor Expands in Tribeca, 74 Leonard Street, NY
Timothy Taylor’s new 6,000-square-foot gallery at 74 Leonard Street, which replaces the gallery’s former Chelsea townhouse, heralds an exciting new phase of international growth for the gallery and its artists. Housed in a historic building dating from 1920, the space also reflects a broader transformation in the way art is presented to a public audience in commercial galleries –– a change spearheaded by the space’s lead architect, Markus Dochantschi of studioMDA. Dochantschi has adopted a ‘soft white cube’ approach to the expanding community of galleries that has grown in Tribeca over the past decade. Since then, he has designed almost 35 galleries between Walker and White Street, leading art critic Zachary Small of The New York Times to call him ‘the unofficial planner of New York City’s new arts district.’
The ‘white cube’ was theorized in Brian Doherty’s classic 1976 essay, first published as a series of articles in Artforum, discussing the style of galleries that had risen to popularity in New York in the early days of Modernism. ‘Windows are sealed off. Walls are painted white,’ Doherty observed of the style. ‘Art exists in a kind of eternity of display that gives that gallery a limbolike status.’
Dochantschi has adopted a more individualistic and custom approach to gallery architecture, softening the context in which the viewer engages with art. At Timothy Taylor in New York, Dochantschi preserved original cast-iron columns and a crisp black-and-white Art Deco facade that introduce warmth into the historic space. As Dochantschi noted in the Times profile, ‘The white cube implies neutrality, but I don’t think there is any neutral space.’
74 Leonard also preserves key elements of the area’s history and heritage. The space’s 15-foot tin ceilings are typical of the neighborhood’s industrial warehouse architecture, dating to the era when Tribeca was a center of textile and cotton trade, beginning in the 1850s. By the 1960s, Tribeca’s industrial base had vanished and its budding art scene began to grow. Young artists and their families discovered residences in the abandoned warehouses of the neighborhood and fought for historical buildings to be preserved. By 1994, 74 Leonard had become The Knitting Factory, a downtown club featuring eclectic music, poetry readings, standup comedy and performance art. Many of Timothy Taylor’s New York-based artists frequented The Knitting Factory until its closure in 2009, a connection which appealed to the gallery in choosing the site.