When SoHo was art world king, 420 West Broadway

As I mentioned in my last post, I happened upon a stash of old art magazine articles from the 1980s and 1990s, and am looking through what is now a slice of 20-30 year-old art history. It was a period of time in which SoHo was slowly losing its grip as the epicenter of the art world, with galleries venturing over to Chelsea for cheaper rents. But if you’re going to look back at SoHo when it was the place to be, the can’t-miss gallery building at the time was 420 West Broadway, home to galleries such as Castelli, Sonnabend, and John Weber, among others (Mary Boone was initially there, but later moved across the street to 417 West Broadway).

The thing that prompted this nostalgia trip for 420 West Broadway was finding an art magazine article on Haim Steinbach and this installation view from an exhibition at Sonnabend Gallery in 1988. Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen much of Steinbach’s art in recent years, but there’s something about this picture (with the lava lamps on this custom-built shelf) that just screams out 1980s art. Steinbach is still around – he currently shows with Tanya Bonakdar Gallery – but this picture was a throwback to the scene at 420 West Broadway.

Haim Steinbach exhibition of lava lamps at Sonnabend Gallery 1988

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