Paula Cooper began her art world apprenticeship at age 21 at the World House Galleries on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. She opened the Paula Johnson Gallery in 1964, where she presented Walter De Maria’s first one-person exhibition. From 1965 to 1967, Cooper ran Park Place Gallery and in 1968 in SoHo, a third floor walk-up loft at 96–100 Prince Street. The inaugural exhibition, “Benefit For The Student Mobilization Committee To End The War in Vietnam,” included works by Carl Andre, Jo Baer, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Robert Mangold and Robert Ryman, as well as others, and Sol LeWitt’s first wall drawing.
The Paula Cooper Gallery moved to the ground floor space at 155 Wooster Street in 1973 and remained there for the next 23 years. Cooper was once again a pioneer in relocating the gallery in 1996 to West 21st Street in Chelsea. Three years later, she opened a second exhibition space across the street.
The Paula Cooper Gallery currently presents 15 to 20 exhibitions a year and shows the work of over 30 artists. Beyond its immediate artistic program, the gallery has regularly hosted concerts, music symposia, dance performances, poetry readings and special events to benefit various national and community organizations.