Increasingly, the works of art on display are getting just as enormous, needing teams of several workers and cranes to host them. Not so long ago, museums were the prime potential buyers or acquirers of such huge, room-filling pieces. However, an influx of new wealthy collectors and art lovers across the globe over the past decade has changed the scenario. Columnist Kelly Crow reconstructs if in The Wall Street Journal:
- Thanks to a resurgent global-art market, some of the world's top dealers are feeling flush and fueling a new gallery building boom—transforming factories, roller rinks and airplane hangars into showrooms for contemporary art. As a result, some of the most highly anticipated shows of the season are set to open in galleries, not museums.
- Like museums, some gallery spaces now boast auditoriums, screening rooms, roof gardens and bookstores. Shows at the dozen biggest galleries are often planned two years in advance and can take more than a month to install. Once up, the art may also stay on view for several months at a time, a typical time frame for a museum exhibit but a fresh stretch for a gallery setting more accustomed to opening new shows monthly.
- These mega-galleries could be a sign of market-fueled hubris—but they may simply represent the next evolutionary step in the look of a modern-day art gallery, architects and dealers say. Either way, these spaces are changing the way we see, and shop for, art. A century ago, art galleries from New York to London and beyond sought to evoke a clubby townhouse with décor as ornate as their paintings' gilded frames.
- After the devastation of World War II, galleries removed their lavish adornments so as not to compete with their artists' wildly splattered abstractions. Canvases got wider and sculptures got a little bulkier, but just about everything on offer could still fit within the confines of an apartment with a 9-foot ceiling. All that changed in the 1960s as galleries began clustering in the New York neighborhood of Soho with its tall, cast-iron window casements, tin ceilings and wooden floors.