Deitch Projects produced over 250 projects and public events during its 15-year history. Always global in its outlook, the gallery presented projects by artists from thirty-three countries.
The gallery opened in January 1996 with a performance by Vanessa Beecroft and closed in the summer of 2010 with an interactive sculpture project by Miranda July.
Deitch Projects was known for presenting the first solo exhibitions in New York of important emerging artists including Cecily Brown, Kehinde Wiley and Tauba Auerbach. The gallery also produced exhibitions and books with artists who had been part of Jeffrey Deitch's circle since the mid 1970s and early 1980s. The gallery was the exclusive representative of the Estate of Keith Haring and presented projects with Francesco Clemente, George Condo, Jon Kessler, David Salle and Alan Suicide. It presented two exhibitions with Jonathan Borofsky, who created his first public wall drawing in Deitch's 1975 Lives exhibition. The gallery produced "The Studio of the Street," a book and exhibition on Jean-Michel Basquiat's work in the transitional year of 1981, when he went from working on street to working in the studio. Deitch Projects presented several ambitious projects with Yoko Ono including "Ex-It," with one hundred trees growing out of one hundred wooden children’s coffins.
"I Bite America and America Bites Me," the notorious 1997 performance in which Oleg Kulik lived in the gallery for two weeks as a dog, helped to establish the gallery’s reputation for audacious programming. Gallery visitors were required to roll down, rather than walk down Paola Pivi’s grass slope in the 2006 "The Garden Party" exhibition. Guests were asked to check their underwear at the door for Noritoshi Hirakawa and Arto Lindsay’s 2002 "Shower in the Dark." For 2007's "Nest," Dan Colen and Dash Snow shredded 2,000 phone books, filled the gallery waist-deep with paper, then invited their community of artists, musicians, and friends to party in it.
Deitch Projects became known for embracing the new convergence of art, music, performance, film and design. Each year at Art Basel Miami Beach, the gallery presented a performance by a band that emerged from the art community. Performers included Fischerspooner, Scissor Sisters, Chicks on Speed, Coco Rosie, The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, Devendra Banhart, The Gossip and Santigold. In its New York galleries, Deitch Projects presented multi-media and performance projects with Madonna and Steven Klein, filmmaker Michel Gondry, architects LOT-EK and fashion designers Stephen Sprouse, As Four and Jeremy Scott. From 2005 through 2007, Deitch Projects presented an annual Art Parade on West Broadway in SoHo that drew 1,000 participants.
Deitch Projects was also known for its support of artists who are inspired by street culture. One of the gallery’s most influential projects was "Street Market" in 2000, an installation by Barry McGee, Steve Powers and Todd James that recreated an apocalyptic version of an urban street. For "Session the Bowl" in 2002, radical architects Simparch built an empty wooden swimming pool in the gallery and invited skateboarders to “session the bowl” twenty-four hours a day. In 2008, Deitch Projects produced a project with Swoon that included the construction of seven boats in the form of floating sculptures. The boats sailed down the Hudson River from upstate New York and docked in front of the artist's exhibition in the gallery's expansive riverfront space in Long Island City. The gallery partnered with Goldman Properties to present an ongoing mural project at the corner of Houston Street and Bowery and to create "Wynwood Walls," an outdoor museum of street art in Miami.
The gallery presented influential thematic exhibitions including "Constraction" and "Substraction," which explored new directions in abstract painting, "Tedious Limbs," which presented video as electronic painting, and "After the Reality," which showcased work by emerging Japanese artists who had not yet shown in the United States. The gallery also produced "New York Minute," an exhibition about the new generation of New York artists for MACRO in Rome and Garage in Moscow.
The gallery’s projects were documented with an active publication program. Artist’s books and monographs were produced with almost all of the artists with whom the gallery had an ongoing relationship. One of the gallery’s most ambitious books was "Live Through This," which documented the New York art scene and its extension into music and other creative fields in the mid 2000s.
Deitch Projects was known for rebuilding the interior of the gallery for almost every major show, and for even rebuilding the gallery facade for particularly ambitious projects. Richard Woods remade the Grand Street façade into a Pop Art version of a Tudor cottage and Michel Gondry constructed a video rental store at the entrance to the Wooster Street gallery with a working film studio behind it.
The gallery maintained a performance workshop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and studio spaces for project artists. From its inception, the gallery offered artists production funding, starting with $25,000 per project in the early years, and then supporting the production of museum scale exhibitions and ambitious works of public art. The goal was to help artists realize the projects that they dreamed of creating, rather than presenting more conventional exhibitions in traditional formats.
One of the prime objectives of the Deitch Projects was to build a strong community around the gallery and serve as a platform for its interaction. Though the gallery closed in 2010, the community that formed around the gallery remains vibrant.
The history of the gallery is documented in Live the Art, Fifteen Years of Deitch Projects, published by Rizzoli in 2014 and on the Deitch Projects Archive website.
76 Grand Street
New York, NY 10013
18 Wooster Street
New York, NY 10013
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