The award-winning Jack Shainman Gallery was founded in 1984 in Washington, DC, by Jack Shainman and his partner Claude Simard, who passed in 2014. Soon after opening, the gallery relocated to New York City occupying a space in the East Village before moving to 560 Broadway in Soho and then to its current location at 513 West 20th Street in Chelsea in 1997.
In 2013, the gallery gained two additional exhibition spaces, one in Chelsea at 524 West 24th Street, the other a 30,000 square foot schoolhouse in Kinderhook, New York. The gallery has been open for over 40 years, providing a platform for artists to express their creativity in profound ways.
The Jack Shainman Gallery has developed a multicultural reputation and is known as a champion for the less-known and starting artists to gain exposure. There are also undertones of exploring social and cultural issues through art in the exhibitions.
The Gallery’s Legacy
Jack Shainman’s Gallery is well-known for giving international artists access to American audiences. It has also been the launching pad for many budding and mid-career artists who have since become popular. Artists featured include Meleko Mokgosi, Richard Mosse, Nick Cave, Toyin Ojih Odutola, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, countless others.
Visitors will be immediately impacted by the bold, imaginative pieces of art that await them. Shainman’s gallery has also taken a focus on recruiting international artists. The vibrant diversity in his exhibits that give the public exclusive encounters with powerful emotions and thoughts that linger long after the viewing has ended.
Crossing over into unexpected mediums like neon lights and cross-stitching, these colorful and robust pieces provoke myriad human emotions. For lovers of contemporary art, this gallery provides a feast for the eyes — and stimulation for the mind — creating a fully immersive emotional and intellectual feast.
About Jack Shainman
Shainman’s passion for his work echoes in how he approaches each piece he acquires. He becomes deeply attached to his findings. “If I had been born wealthy, I would have been an amazing collector,” he said in a 2016 interview with the Wall Street Journal.
Starting his career with modest financial means, he carved his own way to become one of the most influential gallery owners in the world. The nature of his origins has certainly played in a role in offering emerging artists opportunities before they become famous. He has also imported his scholarly background into his work, gathering a stunning lineup of contemporary artists.
After teaming up with his partner Simard, they looked the world over for talent. “If I walk into a studio and I want to own it all, it’s a no-brainer. Then I can make a commitment right there on the spot.”
They moved from Washington to New York and eventually established their gallery in Chelsea. The duo poured everything into getting their hands-on great work, even if it meant eating instant noodles to save money to buy highly-desired artwork.
Shainman and Simard had a wish list of artists to host in their gallery, but unfortunately, most already had relationships with other galleries. This prompted the duo to look abroad for artists. This has led them to discover amazing talent in Europe and Africa, such as finding Isa Genzken in 1989, a German sculptor who has now received many accolades for her work.
Discovering Award-Winning Artists
Following its international and multicultural appeal, it is only natural that the Jack Shainman Gallery’s artists have participated in numerous exhibitions and biennials around the world, like Russia, Korea and Cuba. Aside from the pride of representing their countries, many Jack Shainman artists have won awards.
One of the most well-known artists associated with the Jack Shainman Gallery is Malick Sidibé, whose photographs chronicled the cultural and political changes in Mali over many years. He won the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in 2007, which internationally acclaimed sculptor El Anatsui won two years prior.
Jack Shainman Gallery artists have also received many prestigious grants, fellowships, and awards like the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant. Today, their work is featured in publications, films and collections around the world. The gallery has also displayed the works of budding American artists like Kerry James Marshall, Carrie Mae Weems, Titus Kaphar, Nick Cave and Barkley L. Hendricks.
The Gallery’s Vision
Before multicultural art became more in trend, Shainman pioneered it for decades prior. Though Shainman’s Gallery is generally contemporary art, he takes a particularly multicultural approach to his exhibits that include artists from countries like Cuba, India, Iraq and Israel. It is not just a pretty gallery; its displays engage viewers and throw them in front of controversial issues that they may hear about anywhere else.
Messages can be political in a way that makes the audience uncomfortable, confronting serious issues of oppression, violence, imprisonment, and social inequalities due to race and gender. Viewers are fully engaged with issues that take them beyond just an entertaining show — and they gain an awareness of a world beyond them that craves change, action, and courage. This boldness has marked the gallery’s reputation by giving his artists recognition.
“We’ve really had to build our artists’ careers ourselves, which I’m actually very proud of because a lot of the big galleries don’t do that,” Shainman says, since their capital and power enable them to lure artists who already have thriving markets. “Sometimes I think they don’t know how.”
You can find many different pieces throughout the online Sotheby’s Gallery Network. Mixed media in various formats command the attention of everyone in the room.