These Two New York Galleries Are Busting Out of the White Cube

As Salon 94 and Company Gallery prove, a viewing space can be as exciting as the art on display.

at salon 94 works from daniel hesidence’s exhibition carrier are installed in the second floor stone room primarily used to show sculpture and featuring cored limestone scones by the designer max lamb
Genevieve Garruppo

Above: At Salon 94, works from Daniel Hesidence’s exhibition, “Carrier,” are installed in the second-floor Stone Room, primarily used to show sculpture and featuring cored limestone sconces by the designer Max Lamb.

As many art experiences migrate to the metaverse, it’s increasingly easy to take for granted good spatial design for viewing art right here in the real world. Two Manhattan galleries are offering up a bold reminder in newly renovated spaces: Salon 94, in a Beaux Arts mansion uptown, and Company Gallery, in a former commercial storage center downtown. Both have evolved beyond the clichéd white-box approach and provide a sense of community and space for dialogue—room to discuss how art can shape our lives, our culture, and our world.

elle decor art issue
The first-floor bathroom of Salon 94 is wrapped in one-inch-thick matte blue Tajimi tiles designed by Max Lamb.
Genevieve Garruppo
elle decor art issue
A custom chandelier by Philippe Malouin is suspended from the building’s original gantry.
Genevieve Garruppo

Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn’s Salon 94 is a New York institution. The former residential building on Museum Mile was constructed between 1913 and 1915 for Archer M. Huntington and his second wife, the artist Anna Hyatt Huntington, who used the ballrooms to exhibit her own sculptures. That it should fall decades later into the capable hands of gallery owner Greenberg Rohatyn and her frequent collaborator, the architect Rafael Viñoly—who designed her own home as well as the gallery’s other outposts—seems appropriate. “I like the ceremony of looking at art,” says Greenberg Rohatyn. “It’s both a necessity and a luxury, and I love those two aspects of it.”

a view of sophies a basement speakeasy featuring black walls a pink sofa and a glowing pink light fixture
Company Gallery’s basement is home to the very pink Sophie’s, a private "speakeasy" inspired by the Berlin bars Roses and Möbel-Olfe.
Nick Glimenakis

Housed in a former warehouse on the Lower East Side, Company Gallery is one of the city’s preeminent institutions for queer art. Founded by Sophie Mörner in 2015, its new permanent home was a collaborative effort with Noam Dvir and Daniel Rauchwerger of the design firm BoND. “The brief was to think through with Sophie what this building could and should be, pushing us every step of the way to not go with the typical or the familiar,” Rauchwerger says.

art gallery spaces
The exterior of the building was painted silver in a nod to the kitchen supply stores that populate the Bowery nearby. It showcases graffiti by local writer Miss 17.
Nick Glimenakis

“It was very important to me that it was accessible.” — Sophie Mörner

The result is a sequence of dynamic, multilevel viewing spaces that defy expectation as much as convention: an open-plan ground-floor gallery that seamlessly integrates offices; an atrium gallery that opens onto the street, courting collectors and curious onlookers alike; and a basement-level “black box” viewing room that obscures, behind one wall, a private speakeasy. “There’s not so much a hierarchy,” says Rauchwerger. “There’s a sense of community in the world she’s created there.”

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