Top Photography Venues in New York in 2012

In the annual battle for venue dominance in the New York photography world, there were two clear winners: the International Center of Photography and eclectic, evolving diversity. While the ICP re-cemented its position of strength with a consistently engaging year of photography programming, perhaps the more exciting development of 2012 was the emergence of the Lower East Side as viable, energetic cluster for photography viewing.

As a reminder, these statistics are built using simple arithmetic, adding up the total number of rating stars I awarded to shows at a particular venue throughout the course of the year. This approach rewards both quality (in the form of 3 STAR shows) and consistent quantity (a solid program of 1 STAR shows month after month) in relatively equal measure. The one kink in the hose comes from venues (both galleries and museums) that support multiple viewing spaces that are filled simultaneously; this scale gives these “bigger” venues an advantage in terms of having more opportunities to show us something brilliant. Caveats aside, I do think the numbers provide a pretty accurate reflection of the past year’s best places to enjoy superlative photography.

I reviewed a total of 159 photography shows at 93 different venues in and and around New York in 2012, awarding a total of 204 stars to these exhibits large and small. The International Center of Photography took home 12 stars, besting its rivals by a meaningful margin. It was the only place in the city to deliver two 3 STAR shows (Weegee and Apartheid) and 7 different exhibits at the museum received at least a 1 STAR rating. As a benchmark for the ICP’s overall quality this year, last year’s winner, Pace/MacGill Gallery, won with a tally of 8 stars. And the ICP’s well earned triumph comes against much stiffer competition this year – MoMA, Howard Greenberg Gallery, Yancey Richardson Gallery, and Janet Borden all posted a total of 8 stars or more.

While the data compiled below doesn’t include any Lower East Side galleries (none brought in at least 2 stars in aggregate), the emergence of the neighborhood as a location worth visiting for photography was undeniable. Two or three years ago, I reluctantly trekked down to the LES once or twice a year and often came away underwhelmed; at this point, the LES is fixed into my itinerary every two weeks or so. I reviewed worthwhile 1 STAR photography shows at no less than 12 different LES venues in the past year and my crazy tracking spreadsheet has 60+ LES venues that I’m watching for signs of intermittent photographic life. With the recent moves of Sasha Wolf Gallery and Foley Gallery to the neighborhood and the continued conversion of storefronts into risk-taking young galleries, I expect things will continue to heat up. As Chelsea becomes more brittle and corporate, the LES is picking up the mantle as the place for the fresh and unexpected. Virtually all the new (or new to me) spaces I visited for the first time in 2012 were located in and around the LES.

The complete 2012 venue data set is below, with gallery name, followed by total number of review stars earned over the course of the year (including only those 40 venues with a sum total of 2 stars or more):

Specialist Photography Galleries

Howard Greenberg Gallery (here): 9

Yancey Richardson Gallery (here): 9

Janet Borden (here): 8

Yossi Milo Gallery (here): 7

Aperture Gallery (here): 5

Higher Pictures (here): 4

Edwynn Houk Gallery (here): 4

Pace/MacGill Gallery (here): 4

Bonni Benrubi Gallery (here): 3

Steven Kasher Gallery (here): 3

Bruce Silverstein Gallery (here): 3

Danziger Gallery (here): 2

Robert Mann Gallery (here): 2

Contemporary Art Galleries

Pace Gallery (here): 6

Gagosian Gallery (here): 4

Marian Goodman Gallery (here): 4

Sonnabend Gallery (here): 4

Lehmann Maupin (here): 3

Team Gallery (here): 3

Flowers Gallery (here): 2

Gladstone Gallery (here): 2

Sean Kelly Gallery (here): 2

Luhring Augustine (here): 2

Matthew Marks Gallery (here): 2

Metro Pictures (here): 2

Mitchell-Innes & Nash (here): 2

Von Lintel Gallery (here): 2

Winkleman Gallery (here): 2

David Zwirner (here): 2


International Center of Photography (here): 12

Museum of Modern Art (here): 9

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (here): 5

Metropolitan Museum of Art (here): 5

Yale University Art Gallery (here): 3

Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (here): 2

High Line (here): 2

Katonah Museum of Art (here): 2

Neue Galerie (here): 2

Wadsworth Athaneum (here): 2

Walther Collection (here): 2

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  1. sharon cullen /

    People should feel relax to enjoy their party in the venue. Keep in mind the place of venue that you are going to hire for your event.
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