Lu Magnus, a small but influential gallery on New York’s Lower East Side, is closing its bricks-and-mortar space to “go mobile”. The gallery’s founder Lauren Scott Miller is one of a growing number of dealers who have opted out of the traditional model in favour of hybrid ventures in which they act as adviser, artist liaison and curator.
“Going mobile will allow me to focus my time on creating programming rather than the management of a physical space,” Miller says. Lu Magnus will no longer formally represent its roster of artists, which included Jonathan Allen, Caitlin Masley and Fawad Khan. But Miller says she will continue to “both sell and promote their work”.
Since launching in 2010, Lu Magnus has become known for unorthodox, left-of-centre projects. In 2013, it hosted an exhibition by Adam Parker Smith composed entirely of works Smith had stolen from 77 fellow artists. Last year, the artist and journalist Amar Bakshi invited New Yorkers to come to the gallery and engage in real-time conversation via video with counterparts in Tehran.
Will such experiments be possible without a reliable gallery space? “When I opened Lu Magnus, my two guiding principles were to help create support for emerging artists and to have a meeting place for thinkers, makers and visionaries,” Miller says. “Ultimately, I decided that I don’t need a physical space to meet these goals, but that’s something I never would have known without having the experience of owning and running a gallery.”
Still, not everyone is convinced the traditional model is outmoded. Tracy Williams Gallery is due to take over Lu Magnus’s former space with an exhibition by Richard Dupont on 15 May.