In recent art news, the gap between small galleries and large galleries is widening at a steady pace as a number of small to midsize art galleries have closed their doors since 2012 to present and the numbers are remarkable.  Small to midsize galleries have “long struggled to compete in a field increasingly dominated by mega-galleries with multiple locations, like Gagosian, David Zwirner and Hauser & Wirth.”  This recent trend towards an “intensely commercial and competitive art market has resulted in a critical mass of galleries folding, moving or merging.”

According to Editor-In-Chief Sarah Douglas of Artnews, “[i]n the three years between July 2012 and June 2015, there were only a handful of notable closures—around six. By contrast, the two years between July 2015 and June 2017 saw 25—and 18 of those happened in the past year alone.”  A rundown of some of the significant closures, from 2012 to the present, include as follows:

May–June 2017

Envoy, New York

On Stellar Rays, New York

Acme, Los Angeles

CRG Gallery, New York

January–April 2017

Ibid, London

Vilma Gold, London

Sandra Gering Inc., New York

Limoncello, London

Andrea Rosen, New York

Feuer/Mesler, New York

Susanne Hillberry Gallery, Detroit

Murray Guy, New York

September–December 2016

Mike Weiss Gallery, New York

Mark Moore Gallery, Los Angeles

Young Art, Los Angeles

Kansas, New York

June–August 2016

Lisa Cooley, New York

Robert Miller Gallery, New York

Tracy Williams, Ltd., New York

Rosamund Felsen Gallery, New York

January-May 2016

Clifton Benevento, New York

Thomas Duncan Gallery, Los Angeles

Laurel Gitlen, New York

2015

Mixed Greens, New York

Joe Sheftel, New York

Wallspace, New York

McKee Gallery, New York

2012–14

Churner & Churner, New York

Harris Lieberman, New York

Nicole Klagsbrun, New York

Donald Young Gallery, Chicago

Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles

Some of the reasons behind this widening of the divide between small and large galleries are high-priced real estate in gallery neighborhoods, such as Chelsea, and the rapid expansion of expensive art fairs, where art collectors now tend to do most of their browsing and buying of art. Instead of visiting smaller galleries, collectors are setting their sights on market-tested “trophy works” offered by the major dealers.  Collectors are also buying art through social media (e.g., Instagram) or other online images without even viewing the work in person.  Collectors appear to be less willing to bet on the emerging artists represented by the small to midsize galleries.

For many small to midsize gallery owners, running an art gallery is simply not a sustainable business in the current market hence the steady stream of closures highlighted above.