Howard Read says Cheim & Read will leave the ‘Castelli Model’ of business behind

Howard Read says Cheim & Read will leave the ‘Castelli Model’ of business behind
Cheim & Read’s NYC façade. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

In an Art Basel Miami Beach art market talk called ‘The Future of the Artist and Gallerist Relationship,’ a panel discussed the evolving art fair scene and its implications on the contemporary art gallery. Moderated by art dealer and art fair founder Edward Winkleman, the panel consisted of Amsterdam-based artist Irene Kopelman, LA Commonwealth and Council Partner Kibum Kim, and co-founder of New York’s Cheim & Read gallery Howard Read.

During the discussion, Read took the opportunity of analysing traditional gallery relationships to announce upcoming new commissions. Palm Beach will receive a mural in conjunction with the city’s Norton Museum of Fine Arts in February and art collector Paddy McKillen’s private museum and winery Chateau La Coste in Provence will receive a sculpture. The artists for the commissions have yet to be specified.

The announcement, though, reflects the gallery’s recent moves to transition out of the now prominent art fair scene. It also seems that the gallery will be making more business adjustments as they ring in the new year. In conversation with panel members, Read stated ‘we are in a crossroads right now. After three and half decades in the traditional gallery/artist relation model, we’re transitioning into a new model in February.’ Referring to the more traditional relationships as the ‘Leo Castelli model,’ after the influential dealer who passed in 1999, Read acknowledged that, while useful in its own ways, the model is becoming outdated as the art market is becoming more art fair focused. Though the gallery will continue to feature, albeit more selectively, at fairs but the extreme success and failure they have experience exhibiting in fairs has left them looking for alternatives.

Over the summer, early signs of a reincarnation began when the 20-year-old gallery announced that they would relocate to the Upper East Side from its large home in Chelsea. Cheim & Read also stated that with the move, they would become a private practice focusing on the secondary market, special projects, and sculptural commissions – at the time, though, there was no information regarding any such projects. This news came after Adam Sheffer, a long-time partner of the gallery, left in December 2017 before becoming the vice president of Pace Gallery in July this year and the Joan Mitchell estate announced it would be leaving the gallery to be represented by the David Sirner gallery.

‘We’re now interested in a model that seems more progressive,’ said Read on the development of the gallery. ‘This programming will be more flexible, and without the burden of infrastructure.’