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Independent and Contemporary Art Library Launch The New York Gallery History Project

Contemporary Art Library, the Los Angeles based nonprofit, and Independent, are pleased to announce a new partnership: The New York Gallery History Project. This nonprofit initiative aims to showcase important and influential New York City gallery exhibitions from the past in an online archive that is free and available to all. The Project will provide an essential service to curators, current gallery practitioners and art historians by restoring a pictorial history of gallery exhibitions that took place in New York by legendary gallerists of their time. 

We are pleased to announce that the first selection of the history project will be a complete exhibition archive of Jay Gorney Modern Art (1985–1999), a pivotal gallery program active during the rise of the East Village scene of the 1980s. Jay Gorney Modern Art introduced and exhibited artists who have gone on to global recognition, including: Barbara Bloom, Sarah Charlesworth, Catherine Opie, Lari Pittman, Alexis Rockman, Tim Rollins + K.O.S, Martha Rosler, Haim Steinbach, Jessica Stockholder, James Welling, Gillian Wearing, and more. The Jay Gorney Modern Art inaugural archive will be digitized through this partnership’s fundraising and launched later this year. Visitors can expect to view a reconstructed gallery history through a vast repository of installation images of the gallery’s exhibitions. Additionally, all will have research capability through the site’s database, making the earliest gallery images of major artists’ shows in New York identifiable and accessible for the first time.

“We are deeply proud to be working with Forrest Arakawa-Nash of Contemporary Art Library toward the restoration of the history of New York gallery practice at a time of evolution. To play a role in restoring past galleries’ legacies, ensuring that the historical record is accurately told, is one of the most significant contributions our organization can make. We are also honored to have Jay Gorney’s trust with his extraordinary exhibition history. This year, his legendary gallery exhibitions will be preserved and become part of the history of New York City. We are hopeful to demonstrate a critical need for preservation, raise support and awareness, and provide scholarship for future generations of gallerists and curators,” states Elizabeth Dee, Founder of Independent.

In addition to this multi-year partnership, on the occasion of the fair’s 15th Anniversary, Contemporary Art Library will launch a collection of Independent’s thousands of exhibition images from 2010 to the present will be made accessible to the public on Contemporary Art Library, a first for the Library, which has traditionally focused on gallery and museum exhibitions. The Independent Archive documents the context for artists and the markets that have developed in New York in the last 15 years, spanning all of the fair editions in New York and Brussels, Independent Projects, and Independent 20th Century. The collection will continue to expand with new materials relating to future editions of the fair. Independent has produced more solo debut exhibitions in New York by emerging artists than any other arts organization in New York, and was selected for its groundbreaking curatorial track record. The Independent Archive will launch online on May 7, 2024 at

About The New York Gallery History Project
Contemporary Art Library in partnership with Independent will gather, organize, digitize, preserve and make accessible a trove of important documentation from seminal art spaces in recent New York art history, spanning from the mid-1980s to present. Recognizing the precarity of these histories and the risk of them fading into obscurity, the partnership will ensure that documentation from these art spaces lives on within Contemporary Art Library, the preeminent archive of contemporary art documentation. Utilizing Independent’s deep roots within the New York art scene, we will identify a list of key galleries and artist-run spaces no longer in operation and ensure that documentation of their entire programs will be preserved by the Library.

The first round of this project aims to document the histories of up to ten gallery spaces selected for their exceptional art historical importance. The history project will involve a substantial digitization initiative of existing archival records for gallery programs that predate the widespread use of digital photography. In addition to material received directly from the relevant gallery archives, Contemporary Art Library’s archivists will attempt to reconstruct every public exhibition undertaken at each space, working with artists and other sources to fill any gaps with additional documentation. When released, the first phase of the New York History Project is set to widen access to the history of contemporary art in New York for scholars, researchers, and the public alike, and we anticipate that future rounds of the project will follow, ensuring the preservation of even more material.

About The Independent Archive
Since 2010, Independent has championed artists and launched hundreds of artists’ hosting their New York debut. The fair has had various iterations through its 15-year history, all of which will be included in the Independent Archive on Contemporary Art Library: Independent (2010-present), Independent Projects (2014), Independent Brussels (2016-2018), and Independent 20th Century (2022-present). Notable and critically acclaimed past presentations at the fair include a solo exhibition of McArthur Binion's work presented by Kavi Gupta for Independent Projects in 2014, a New York debut of Nicolas Party’s eye-catching floor-to-ceiling installation created for Independent in 2015 and presented by The Modern Institute, Issy Wood’s New York debut presentation of unsettling paintings presented by Carlos/Ishikawa at Independent Brussels in 2017, Tunji Adeniyi-Jones’s solo presentation in 2020 with Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, and Louisa Keyser’s Southern Washoe style baskets presented by Donald Ellis Gallery at Independent 20th Century in 2023.

About Contemporary Art Library
Launched in 2021, Contemporary Art Library is already the largest online database of contemporary art documentation in the world, free and open to all. Combining 15 years of material published on Contemporary Art Daily with comprehensive histories from more than 80 Founding Partners and a growing list of closed spaces, the Library has quickly become the definitive resource for learning about the work of contemporary artists, used more than seven million times in 2023 by people around the world. By providing access to current knowledge of contemporary art, we’re changing the artworld to be more open, more inclusive, and therefore more diverse, which in turn makes art richer and stronger.

About Independent
Independent was established in 2010, as a consciously scaled art fair focused on inspiring relevant art encounters for a well-informed and devoted Contemporary Art audience. Independent 20th Century premiered in 2022 to champion artists and international avant garde movements that took place between 1900-2000, in a historical setting. Independent and Independent 20th Century together premiere internationally recognized artists, spotlight lesser known narratives, or feature a side of a canonical artist’s practice that even well-informed collectors and museums find worthy of further curatorial and market attention.

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Image: Barbara Bloom, Installation view of The Reign of Narcissism, September 16-October 14, 1989, Jay Gorney Modern Art