About one-third of solo museum shows in U.S. are by artists from 5 galleries


Ever hit the museums and find yourself struck by a certain sameness? Yet another conceptualist quoting French philosophers and doing Jedi mind tricks with a pile of detritus?

Well, there might be an explanation for that. An investigation by Julia Halperin of the Art Newspaper shows that almost one-third of solo museum exhibitions in the United States are of artists represented by one of five prominent commercial galleries: Gagosian Gallery, Marian Goodman, Pace, David Zwirner and Hauser & Wirth (the latter of which is about to have a branch land in Los Angeles).

Halperin analyzed 590 solo exhibitions at 68 museums from 2007-13, as part of the paper’s regular attendance figures survey.


She found that 55% of the solo exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum in New York were from artists represented by one of these five galleries. At New York’s Museum of Modern Art the tally was 45%, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the New Museum in New York it was 40%, and at the Hammer Museum and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, the total came to 15%.

It’s worth clicking through to read Halperin’s extensive report, which includes interviews with some of these gallerists and museum administrators on why this might be the case. There is also a detailed explanation of the methodology.

Plenty of food for thought on the state of diversity in our museums.

Find me on Twitter @cmonstah. You can find Halperin @juliahalperin.