Clearing, one of the New York galleries that helped trigger a groundswell of artistic activity in Bushwick in the early 2010s, is set to leave that neighborhood after more than a decade there.
This March, Clearing will relocate to the Bowery in Manhattan, where it will be sited about a block away from the New Museum and the gallery Sperone Westwater. Taking over three floors of 260 Bowery, Clearing will now occupy 6,600 square feet—a smaller amount of space than it had in Bushwick, but in a more central location that puts the gallery a short walk away from a host of Lower East Side art spaces.
“There’s nothing wrong with Brooklyn, but there’s more to New York than Brooklyn,” Olivier Babin, the gallery’s founder, said in a phone interview. “We’re not leaving for a bigger or better space. We’re leaving for a better location.”
The deal was brokered by Kelsey Coxe at Portman Realty, who a spokesperson for Clearing said was attempting to make forays into the art world, working recently with clients such as the artist-run space and bar Beverly’s.
Clearing started in Bushwick in 2011, and now also has venues in Brussels and Los Angeles. Babin has stated that he was initially lured to Bushwick by the relatively low cost of real estate there, which allowed him to open up shop in an airy former auto shop that was bigger than many other spaces in Chelsea or the Lower East Side.
In Bushwick, Clearing gained a loyal following for showing the kind of conceptually driven work many galleries may shy away from. It mounted memorable shows there by artists such as Harold Ancart, Korakrit Arunanondchai, Meriem Bennani, Calvin Marcus, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, and others.
Bushwick has long held intrigue for artists looking for studio space, but other galleries followed Clearing after it proved successful in the neighborhood. One was the blue-chip gallery Luhring Augustine, which still mounts exhibitions in Bushwick periodically; another was the scrappier, younger enterprise Signal, which regularly put on edgy shows by young artists. Amant, a nonprofit operated by collector Lonti Ebers, started in Bushwick opened in 2021.
Yet in recent years, what Babin called the “novelty effect” of Bushwick has worn off. Signal’s closure in 2018, for one, marked a sorely felt loss for art lovers in Brooklyn, and Babin said that while Clearing still had steady foot traffic in Bushwick, he expected more visitors in Manhattan.
Since 2019, a number of art enterprises have sprung up in Tribeca, a storied gallery district that has been given new life. But Babin said he wasn’t so interested in that neighborhood or Chelsea—the former because there weren’t any spaces that met his standards, the latter because gallery real estate had grown too expensive.
“The fact that everyone is relocating to Tribeca was actually not necessarily a plus,” Babin said. “We don’t want to stay off the beaten path, but we wanted to find the right space.”
Correction, 1/20/23, 10:40 a.m.: A previous version of this article misstated who brokered the deal for Clearing’s new space. It was Portman Realty, not Premier Equities, who is the gallery’s new landlord.
Correction, 1/20/23, 5:35 p.m.: A previous version of this article misstated Olivier Babin’s birthplace. He was born in Dijon, France, not Brussels.