Pace is one of the largest, most prestigious, and wealthiest contemporary art-showing and -selling operations on the planet, and they're really strutting their stuff with the grand opening of their new crazy-opulent global headquarters in Chelsea. Last week they hosted a celeb-studded VIP party at which, among other ostentatious displays, The Who played a short, surprise acoustic set of classics, including " Pinball Wizard" and "The Kids Are Alright."
Let's take it back to last Thursday:
Grandiosity aside, the 75,000 square foot, eight-story building on West 25th, designed by Bonetti/Kozerski, is a lovely place to look at art, with tons of natural light and outdoor space, including a stunning Sky Terrace on the sixth floor that alone makes the place worth a visit.
Here's a look inside, and at some of the design highlights of the space as well as all seven inaugural exhibitions.
A terrific Alexander Calder show, called "Small Sphere and Heavy Sphere," starts things off on the ground floor, showcasing several of the artist's mobiles, of course, as well as stabiles, delicate tabletop works, wire sculptures, kinetic contrivances, a few oil paintings, and charming set of animal drawings. The large space is cleverly divided so there's a nice sense of serendipity as you turn corners, and in a couple of rooms, in which shadows aren't integral to Calder's work, there are scrims installed as a kind of false ceiling to diffuse and soften the overhead light.
The first floor is also home to the beautiful new Pace research library, which has a towering wall of books on one side and exhibition space on the wall opposite, in this case Yto Barrada's site-specific installation of custom wallpaper and framed paste-paper works. Much of the light here comes streaming from the terrace above on the second floor, via a long narrow skylight. Also up there on two is the Loie Hollowell exhibition, nine abstract self-portraits of her body through pregnancy and birth. Photographs can't capture the neat optical tricks played by these three-dimensional paintings, as they radiate a kind of otherworldly glow.
The third floor offers still more column-free gallery space, and this is where you'll find David Hockney's lovely "La Grande Cour, Normandy", the centerpiece of which is a cheerful, twenty-four panel panoramic drawing depicting the arrival of spring around his new studio in France. "It's a movie," says Hockney, "but you do the moving." There are also four individual drawings, done in the same style, of his 17th-century "higgledy-piggedly" house, as seen from the north, south, east, west. Photographic portraits by Peter Hujar and a small collection of African and Oceanic work complete your viewing options here.
Floors four and five have been given over to office space, and six is taken up entirely by the awesome Sky Terrace—you emerge from the stairwell or elevator right into the outdoors, with no antechamber, and the effect is startling, especially on a cool, breezy day—with its covered middle portion and open-aired sides on the north and south. This will be used as an exhibition and performance venue (it's where The Who played) as well just being a resting spot to stare into other people's windows and out over the city. Water tower fans will be particularly pleased by the view.
Sitting on top of the terrace is the building's final gallery/performance space, which extends upwards through both the seventh and eighth floors. The 19-foot-high, dual-level room is obviously the perfect showcase for Fred Wilson's ornate chandeliers, which the artist calls his "meditations on blackness, death, and beauty." A wall of windows looking north complete the building's insistence on bringing the light and energy of the outside, in. There's also a plush "private viewing" room up here for preferred buyers (though I strolled through without incident), as well as one of the building's four bathrooms.
Pace Gallery is located at 540 West 25th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues, and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free.