Introducing Soho House New York’s refreshed art collection
In time for the 20-year anniversary of Soho House in North America, our first-ever US club in the Meatpacking District has new pieces on display
Thursday 7 September 2023 By Anastasiia Fedorova
This September, we’re celebrating 20 years of Soho House in North America by spotlighting our members, sharing some iconic memories and running a series of events, including the second edition of our Soho House Awards. Two decades ago, it all started in the heart of Manhattan’s Meatpacking District. Set over six floors of a former warehouse, Soho House New York has quickly become a coveted destination for the city’s creatives – and especially its art scene.
The original art collection in the club mostly consisted of small monochromatic works by globally renowned artists. For the anniversary, Kate Bryan, Soho House Global Director of Art, had a brand-new vision – a collection that would truly reflect the spirit of today’s New York, and the complexity and diversity of its communities. The majority of the existing artworks have been moved into the Vinyl Room, including works by heavyweights such as Mark Bradford, Richard Prince and Joyce Pensato. The curatorial process for the new collection took a year to put together, featuring a combination of textures, styles and works from artists of different backgrounds and stages of their career.
‘There’s definitely a real responsibility when you take away all the art and replace it, because everyone’s going to notice. It had to feel different,’ says Bryan. ‘New York is not a place to not take risks.’
We sat down to talk about the process and the works that have found a new home at Soho House New York.
What were you aiming for when building out the new collection? And did you feel the pressure of it being the first-ever club in New York with so much history within its walls?
‘In light of the anniversary, we had a chance to refresh the key art collections in North America and bring them in line with the current contemporary art climate to make sure that the artists really represented the city, and that our collections are as inclusive as possible. It allowed us to have a look at what’s happening in New York right now and how we can best showcase that to the members.
‘We felt a responsibility to do two things at once: to represent this older generation of artists that make the New York art scene so special, such as Jenny Holzer and Richard Prince. But then at the same time, you have to make sure that you represent the way that New York has changed in the past 20 years, and we have names like Tschabalala Self, who is making a poignant enquiry into the experience of being an African-American woman, and Nasim Hantehzadeh, who explores queerness, identity and Iranian heritage. These artists are asking really urgent questions and responding to the world that they live in fascinating ways.’
Could you talk us through a couple of highlights from more established artists?
‘Coming into the lobby on the ground floor and then going up to the main club, we’ve got a lot of museum-level artists, including an artwork by Catherine Opie. We have two of her portraits in the collection, and this is the first time we’ve acquired one of her landscapes. This is a beautiful seascape that looks like an abstract painting.’
‘Another artist, Scott Covert, was a cult figure of the New York downtown scene in the 1980s, and would have been in Meatpacking way before it became how we know it today. He works with a practice of grave rubbing, travelling around the world to create images by rubbing tombstones of his heroes and significant cultural figures.’
And who were some of the younger artists you brought in?
‘We have a lot of younger artists in the collection, who are dominating the New York art scene now. Christopher Myers has a big tapestry in reception and there is a sculptural work by Derek Fordjour. There’s also art by Derrick Adams, who’s just signed to Gagosian, Sadie Barnette, whose work we have in Soho Warehouse, two paintings by b. chehayeb, and works by Maia Cruz Palileo, whose work I was trying to acquire for ages.’
What do you personally like most about this collection and the process behind it?
‘The collection is a real cross-section of what’s happening in New York. There’s a huge injection of colour, and much larger works. We’re really proud of having a good relationship with artists in New York, and everyone was very excited to be part of our original club in North America.’
Explore and apply for membership at Soho House New York.