Top Photography Venues in New York in 2013

Delivering a consistently excellent exhibition program takes a mix of long term vision and hard work, and in 2013, we saw more venues than ever here in New York deliver great photography shows. For the second year in a row, the International Center of Photography offered the most comprehensive view of the medium in the city, mixing vintage retrospectives with newer work and its strongest Triennial ever (and besting its rivals by a decent margin once again in the process). But the bigger news for photography collectors was the ongoing realignment of the local gallery environment, bringing new names to the forefront and recalibrating the balance between the contemporary art and specialist photography galleries. There was a lot of motion in the standings this year, and the leaderboard is clearly in flux.

As background, the statistics that drive these conclusions are built using simple arithmetic, adding up the total number of rating stars awarded to shows at a particular venue throughout the course of the year. This method 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. In 2013, we reviewed 161 photography shows at 92 different venues in and around New York, awarding a total of 214 STARS. The International Center of Photography brought in 11 STARS, less than its record 12 STARS performance of a year ago, but with plenty of distance between its program and that of its followers (the next best total this year was 8 STARS). For comparison, Yancey Richardson Gallery won in 2010 with 7 STARS, while Pace/MacGill Gallery took home the top honors in 2011 with 8 STARS.

What is perhaps more important is the evidence of real change taking place amid the galleries. The “grow or go” competitive dynamics that have been much discussed in the past 12 months have clearly transformed Chelsea, with more space, more staff, more investment, and more fairs driving the largest of the contemporary art galleries into highly professionalized, large burn rate behemoths. What is perhaps more unexpected is that we haven’t seen a concentration of the best photography shows taking place at these venues – in fact, while the manic search for bankable artists continues, the spread of quality actually seems to be getting more diversified, not less. In 2012, we counted 40 local venues whose photography programs delivered at least 2 STARS; in 2013, this number jumped to 51, with most of the growth coming from emerging venues in the Lower East Side. While contemporary photography has now been infused into most programs (with the majority of major contemporary art venues now having at least one or two photographers in the stable), newer galleries are colonizing lower cost neighborhoods and taking the leading edge interdisciplinary photography with them. This is putting pressure on existing gallery players in both contemporary art and specialist photography to stay current, as the definition of photography is expanding rapidly (more on this tomorrow) and these newer venues are much more on top of what’s actually happening.

The complete 2013 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 venues that earned at least 2 STARS):

Specialist Photography Galleries

  • Yossi Milo Gallery (here): 7
  • Pace/MacGill Gallery (here): 7
  • Yancey Richardson Gallery (here): 7
  • Aperture Gallery (here): 6
  • Edwynn Houk Gallery (here): 5
  • Sasha Wolf Gallery (here): 5
  • Janet Borden (here): 4
  • Danziger Gallery (here): 4
  • Gitterman Gallery (here): 4
  • Howard Greenberg Gallery (here): 4
  • Bruce Silverstein Gallery (here): 4
  • ClampArt (here): 3
  • Higher Pictures (here): 3
  • Steven Kasher Gallery (here): 3
  • Bonni Benrubi Gallery (here): 2
  • Andrea Meislin Gallery (here): 2

Contemporary Art Galleries

  • David Zwirner (here): 6
  • Matthew Marks Gallery (here): 4
  • Metro Pictures (here): 4
  • Pace Gallery (here): 4
  • Sonnabend Gallery (here): 3
  • Leslie Tonkonow Artworks +Projects (here): 3
  • American Contemporary (here): 2
  • Art in General (here): 2
  • Mary Boone Gallery (here): 2
  • Paula Cooper Gallery (here): 2
  • Denny Gallery (here): 2
  • Dillon Gallery (here): 2
  • Thomas Erben Gallery (here): 2
  • Foley Gallery (here): 2
  • Gagosian Gallery (here): 2
  • Marian Goodman Gallery (here): 2
  • Hasted Kraeutler (here): 2
  • KANSAS Gallery (here): 2
  • Andrew Kreps Gallery (here): 2
  • Dominique Lévy Gallery (here): 2
  • McKee Gallery (here): 2
  • Murray Guy (here): 2
  • On Stellar Rays (here): 2
  • Andrea Rosen Gallery (here): 2
  • Jack Shainman Gallery (here): 2
  • Skarstedt Gallery (here): 2
  • Craig F. Starr Gallery (here): 2
  • 303 Gallery (here): 2
  • Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery (here): 2
  • Miyako Yoshinaga (here): 2


  • International Center of Photography (here): 11
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art (here): 8
  • Museum of Modern Art (here): 8
  • Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (here): 2
  • Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center/Vassar (here): 2

Your email address will not be published.

Recent Articles

Marie Tomanova, Young American

Marie Tomanova, Young American

JTF (just the facts): Published in March 2019 by Paradigm Publishing (here). Softcover, 144 pages, with 64 color photographs. Includes texts by Ryan McGinley and Thomas Beachdel. In an edition of 350 ... Read on.

Sign up for our weekly email newsletter