In 2019, the Dia Art Foundation embarked on ambitious upgrades and expansions for several of its galleries. In Chelsea, the foundation’s two contiguous spaces—previously the sites of long-term shows by François Morellet and Rita McBride—have been unified into a single facility that can accommodate even more large-scale works. The new space finally reopens Friday with an exhibition by the artist Lucy Raven, who debuts a black-and-white film and two light sculptures that move continually in and out of synchronization with each other. Stretching across an uninterrupted 20,000 square feet, the expanded gallery feels aligned with Dia’s long-term commitment to fostering prolonged, deeply introspective experiences with art.
To oversee the renovation, Dia enlisted Architecture Research Office (ARO)—a firm noted for restoring Donald Judd’s former residence and studio in SoHo as well as Houston’s Rothko Chapel. In keeping with Chelsea’s vernacular of cavernous, formerly industrial buildings, ARO maintained the interior’s original exposed brick, wooden ceiling beams, and rehabilitated skylights while uniting all three structures with a brickwork facade not unlike the former Nabisco factory that the organization converted into Dia:Beacon on the Hudson River upstate. It also nods to Dia’s historic role within Chelsea, a once-declining industrial area marked by warehouses and garages, where the foundation established itself as an art-world pathbreaker with Gagosian and the Kitchen in the 1980s.
“We’ve always tried working with curators on what artists we can make a difference with—what doesn’t align itself so easily with gallery representation for one reason or another, and therefore needs space, support, and funding,” Jessica Morgan, the nonprofit foundation’s director, tells The Art Newspaper. After consulting with artists for the renovation, their instincts said to champion “the humility of the industrial spaces that we use. They were definitely not encouraging of any move toward new building, but rather thinking about what we have and using that most effectively.”
Though the Chelsea gallery’s expansion feels like a triumph given the past year of disruption, when many arts organizations temporarily shuttered and furloughed workers, Dia has even more on the docket. ARO is also spearheading the renovation of Dia’s galleries in SoHo, where the sites of Walter De Maria’s The New York Earth Room (1977) and The Broken Kilometer (1979), as well as a former location that once hosted historic Dia shows by the likes of Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, and Barnett Newman, are all slated to reopen in late 2023.