in other words

Everything you ever wanted to know about the art market but didn't know who to ask

#60 David Zwirner Needs No Introduction


Guest David Zwirner. Photo Matthew Magelof

Art Agency, Partners
#60 David Zwirner Needs No Introduction

BY Charlotte Burns
executive editor of In Other Words

“I really felt ten years ago that there was a huge opportunity for me at different levels in the art world,” says David Zwirner, whose eponymous gallery opened in New York more than 25 years ago, has since expanded to London and Hong Kong and is increasingly focusing on its online strategy. “Of course, expansion fuels expansion,” he says. “At the same time, I think there’s a huge risk. There’s definitely a ‘too big’ possible.”

In conversation with Allan Schwartzman (co-founder of AAP and a chairman of Sotheby’s) and our host Charlotte Burns (executive editor, In Other Words), Zwirner discusses the future of the business and the state of the market—and talks about what he is looking for in the next generation of artists.

For more, tune in today.

Click here for the full transcript

Charlotte Burns: Hello, and welcome to In Other Words, where we cover everything you ever wanted to know about the art world but didn’t know who to ask. I’m your host Charlotte Burns and today I’m joined by David Zwirner, who founded his gallery in New York more than 25 years ago and now has bases in New York, London and Hong Kong.

David Zwirner: I feel very much aware of the fact that we’ve grown quickly, and I want to be really smart moving forward, and not do things that I regret. It’s quite easy to do that when you have momentum.

Zwirner has changed the way the gallery business is run and regularly tops lists of the most powerful people in the art world.

We’re also joined by Allan Schwartzman, who’s the co-founder of Art Agency Partners and a chairman at Sotheby’s.

Allan Schwartzman: There are certain artists for whom we would never do a purchase without actually seeing the work, but that has to do with the experience of the work.

Before we get started, here’s your regular reminder to visit, where you can subscribe to our bi-weekly In Other Words newsletter. Now, onto today’s show.

Thank you both so much for being here.


David Zwirner

owner and founder of David Zwirner Gallery

David Zwirner is a contemporary art gallery with locations in New York, London, and Hong Kong, which currently represents over sixty artists and estates. Since opening its doors in 1993, the gallery has been home to innovative, singular, and pioneering exhibitions across a variety of media and genres. Active in both the primary and secondary markets, the gallery has helped foster the careers of some of the most influential artists working today, and has maintained long-term representation of a wide-ranging, international group of artists.

In 1993, David Zwirner opened his eponymous gallery on Greene Street in New York’s SoHo neighborhood. In 2002, Zwirner relocated his gallery from SoHo to West 19th Street in Chelsea, and grew from 10,000 to 30,000 square feet in 2006. In 2012, the gallery expanded into Europe,  opening in an eighteenth-century Georgian townhouse on Grafton Street in the heart of London’s Mayfair district. Coinciding with its twentieth anniversary in February 2013, David Zwirner inaugurated a new five-story exhibition and project space on West 20th Street in New York. In September 2017, the gallery opened a new space on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Located at 34 East 69th Street, the space encompasses 7,000 square feet and is used for contemporary and historical exhibitions, private viewings, and special projects.

David Zwirner’s first gallery in Asia opened in January 2018, occupying two floors of H Queen’s building in Central Hong Kong. For two decades, David Zwirner has worked in close collaboration with numerous commercial and museum publishers. In 2014, the gallery announced the formation of David Zwirner Books, a stand-alone publishing house with international distribution, which produces catalogues, monographs, historical surveys, artists’ books, and catalogues raisonnés under the direction of Lucas Zwirner.

In January 2019, David Zwirner Books began its partnership with Simon & Schuster, one of the largest and most high-profile publishers in the world.  In 2017, David Zwirner launched the Viewing Room, an online exhibition and sales platform, where visitors from around the world can explore and collect works from curated, online-only presentations of gallery artists and special collaborations. The Viewing Room is envisioned as a sixth gallery space and reflects the evolution of the art-collecting experience in a rapidly changing digital landscape. In 2018, the gallery debuted its podcast series, Dialogues. Each episode pairs two exceptional makers and thinkers discussing how art shapes, elevates, and shifts our point of view. The inaugural season featured conversations between Jeff Koons and Luke Syson; Lisa Yuskavage and Tamara Jenkins; and Hilton Als and Thelma Golden, among others.

Allan Schwartzman

Allan Schwartzman was a Founder and Principal of AAP. He brought to the company more than 20 years’ experience in advising some of the world’s most influential and sophisticated collectors in forming their holdings of contemporary art, both individually and in conjunction with their stewardship of major museums.

Schwartzman is also widely respected as an independent curator, most notably for Instituto Inhotim, the visionary contemporary art park set within a 5,000-acre botanical garden in Brazil. As creative director and chief curator of Inhotim, he has been central to developing the collection of the renowned institution and commissioning its signature site-specific works by artists including Chris Burden, Giuseppe Penone, Matthew Barney, Doris Salcedo, Doug Aitken, Rivane Neuenschwander, Olafur Eliasson and Rirkrit Tiravanija, including projects that could not have been realized anywhere else.

Known equally as a tastemaker in contemporary art and an authority on the art market, Schwartzman is a frequent guest speaker and panelist at the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, Art Basel and notable events around the world.

Schwartzman was a founding staff member of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City and served as curator from 1977 to 1980. He has written extensively about art for publications including The New Yorker, the New York Times, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Artforum and Art in America and was a contributing editor of Connoisseur. He served as a board member of Franklin Furnace from 1980 to 2000 and currently serves on the Board of Artists Space, one of New York’s premier alternative spaces, having also served as the board’s president.

Charlotte Burns

executive editor of In Other Words

Charlotte Burns is the editor of In Other Words, our weekly newsletters and podcasts. She was previously the US news and market editor for The Art Newspaper, as well as a regular correspondent for publications such as the Guardian and Monocle. Previously, she worked with the London dealer Anthony d’Offay on special projects. For several years, she was a consultant at the cultural communications agency, Bolton & Quinn. She also worked at Hauser & Wirth in London.

Burns received a Masters degree (with Merit) from the Courtauld Institute in Art and Cultural Politics in Germany, 1890-1945, as well as a first-class B.A. honors degree in English and History of Art from Birmingham University. She moved to New York in 2010.

For more on David Zwirner:

  1. A Mega-Dealer Expands: David Zwirner Plans a New Art Gallery” by Robin Pogrebin for The New York Times, published 8 January 2018
  2. The Business of Being David Zwirner” by Arthur Lubow for the Wall Street Journal, published 7 January 2018
  3. David Zwirner Gallery’s upcoming Art Basel Online Viewing Room

You may also like...

Slideshow: Negative Space

By Matthew Thompson

Quarantined Cartoons

By Kaitlin Chan

Art Books and the Covid-19 Crisis

How the industry is adapting

By Christian House