In February 1993, David Zwirner opened his eponymous gallery on the ground floor of 43 Greene Street with a solo exhibition of work by Franz West; the catalogue for the inaugural show listed David's home address, as at time of printing, he wasn’t sure where the gallery was going to be located.
The building was in the heart of SoHo, just down the street from the legendary number 112, the address of one of the city’s first artist-run venues in the 1970s where future gallery artists Gordon Matta-Clark and Richard Serra made some of their earliest work. The Greene Street space was designed by Annabelle Selldorf—the first of many projects for the gallery; a Bloomberg article describes the long-running collaboration between gallerist and architect: "They’re both from Cologne, but they met, Zwirner says, when he was 15 and studying in New York for a year, and she was 18 and starting at Pratt. In 1993, when he opened his first gallery, a 1,600-square-foot space on Greene Street in SoHo, 'her firm was a two-man show at that point, and I was a one-man show.'"
David Zwirner's program launched with radical, experimental shows by emerging artists such as Stan Douglas, Jason Rhoades, and Diana Thater, all of whom had solo exhibitions at the gallery in its inaugural year and are still part of the roster today. "Zwirner began his gallery with some very risky artists, commercially," Randy Kennedy observed. "One early show involved Paul McCarthy, who was still mostly a West Coast cult phenomenon. He also discovered, through McCarthy, Jason Rhoades, whose equally difficult work Zwirner embraced perhaps as only a more rarefied European gallerist could in the early 1990s." The founding team—many of whom have remained with the gallery, including Angela Choon and Hanna Schouwink—wore many hats, serving as front desk assistants and security, doubling as scale models and registrars, while working with artists and clients alike.
David Zwirner, Hanna Schouwink, and Angela Choon at the front desk of 43 Greene Street, New York, c. 1997
Front and back of showcard for David Zwirner's first exhibition, Franz West: Investigations of American Art, which opened in February 1993 at 43 Greene Street, New York
Installation view, Franz West: Investigations of American Art, 43 Greene Street, New York, 1993
David Zwirner with his children, Scott Portnoy (far left), and Hanna Schouwink in Franz West's Kasseler Rippchen (1996), on view in Franz West: New Sculptures and Installations, 43 Greene Street, New York
Fax from Franz West to David Zwirner arranging a Bowery Bar meeting, 1995
Gallery staff dressing up as David Zwirner (fourth from left) for Halloween, circa 2002. Pictured here are Senior Partners Bellatrix Hubert (left), who joined in 1999, Hanna Schouwink (second from left), and Angela Choon (third from right).
Gallery staff at a holiday dinner, circa 2000. Pictured here are Senior Partners Bellatrix Hubert (far left), Hanna Schouwink (fifth from left), Angela Choon (third from left), along with Monica Zwirner (second from right) and David Zwirner
Out-of-office sign on the front door during a gallery trip to Las Vegas, circa 1999
Flyer for COMING TO POWER: 25 Years of Sexually X-Plicit Art by Women, 43 Greene Street, New York, 1993. Curated by Ellen Cantor, this group exhibition brought together works by women artists, among them Louise Bourgeois, Marilyn Minter, Alice Neel, Carolee Schneemann, Cindy Sherman, Nancy Spero, and Hannah Wilke.
Installation view, COMING TO POWER: 25 Years of Sexually X-Plicit Art by Women, 43 Greene Street, New York, 1993. Pictured here, from left to right, is a painting by Joan Semmel and photographic works by Patricia Cronin, Nan Goldin, and Lorraine O’Grady.
David Zwirner with Jason Rhoades at the artist's first gallery solo show, Jason Rhoades: CHERRY Makita – Honest Engine Work, 43 Greene Street, New York, 1993
Angela Choon looking tentative in Jason Rhoades's Spaceball (1997), on view in Jason Rhoades: Deviations in Space, VARIOUSVIRGINS, 43 Greene Street, New York, 1997
Hanna Schouwink taking a moment in Jason Rhoades’s Cheese (1999), on view in Jason Rhoades and Paul McCarthy: Propposition, 43 Greene Street, New York, 1999
Franz West and David Zwirner working on Limerick (1994) for Franz West: Home Elements (A Retrospective), 43 Greene Street, New York, 1994
Installation view, Diana Thater: Late & Soon (Occident Trotting), 43 Greene Street, New York, 1993
Exterior view of 43 Greene Street, New York, during Diana Thater: Late & Soon (Occident Trotting), 1993
Official portrait of Diana Thater for the Whitney Biennial, 1996. Thater was among the first artists to be part of the gallery's original roster, joining in 1993.
Installation view, SAMPLER – Southern California Video Collection 1970–1993, 43 Greene Street, New York, 1993
Installation view, Stan Douglas: Hors-champs, 43 Greene Street, New York, 1993
David Zwirner with Toba Khedoori, circa 1993
Installation view, Rachel Khedoori and Toba Khedoori, 43 Greene Street, New York, 1994
"One of the best exhibitions now on view, by a beginner or not, is the first show by Toba Khedoori, at the David Zwirner Gallery . . . . Visual perception is paramount: attention is quietly drawn to every gesture and decision that went into these understated images."
Roberta Smith, The New York Times
Peter Pakesch dancing and David Zwirner playing drums at a Russian restaurant in Coney Island, following a Franz West show opening, 1994. "There were no openings in the music program at the university in Cologne," wrote Nick Paumgarten in The New Yorker, "so [Zwirner] sent an audition tape to New York University of him playing the melody of Charlie Parker’s 'Ornithology' on the drums."
Front of showcard for Luc Tuymans: Superstition, 43 Greene Street, New York, 1994. This exhibition marked Luc Tuymans's first gallery solo show as well as his United States debut.
Installation view, Luc Tuymans: Superstition, 43 Greene Street, New York, 1994
Polaroid of Angela Choon and Hanna Schouwink in back office of 43 Greene Street, New York, circa 1997
David Zwirner and gallery staff, including Angela Choon, interacting with Franz West’s Passstücke (1983–1994), on view in Mike Kelley; Paul McCarthy; Bruce Nauman; Franz West, 43 Greene Street, New York, 1995
Installation view, Raymond Pettibon: Drawings and Wall Drawings, 43 Greene Street, New York, 1995
Installation view, Diana Thater: China, Crayons & Molly Numbers 1 through 10, 43 Greene Street, New York, 1996
Raymond Pettibon working on No Title (Well you needn’t . . . ) (1997), a wall drawing for his second gallery solo show, Raymond Pettibon, 43 Greene Street, New York, 1997
David Zwirner, wearing a Raymond Pettibon T-shirt, at the front desk of 43 Greene Street, New York, circa 1997
Installation view, John McCracken: Sculpture, 43 Greene Street, New York, 1997
Front of showcard for John McCracken: Sculpture, 43 Greene Street, New York, 1997
David Zwirner with Marcel Dzama at the artist's first gallery solo show, Marcel Dzama: Drawings, 43 Greene Street, New York, 1998
Fax to David Zwirner from John McCracken proposing a work for the five-year anniversary show, 1998
Untitled (Five Years DZ) (1998), a work created by Franz West specially for Five Years, 1993–1998, 43 Greene Street, New York, 1998
An installation of Gordon Matta-Clark's Garbage Wall (1970), on view in Gordon Matta-Clark, 43 Greene Street, New York, 1999. The gallery's recreation marked the first time this important work had been presented since 1970.
Front of showcard for Gordon Matta-Clark, 43 Greene Street, New York, 1999, which features an image from the artist’s work Hair (1972)
Hanna Schouwink with Yutaka Sone's Green Jungle (1999), on view in Yutaka Sone, 43 Greene Street, New York, 1999
Fax to Franz West wishing him a happy birthday from David Zwirner and gallery staff and artist, 2000
Installation view, Thomas Ruff: Nudes, 43 Greene Street, New York, 2000
Lucas Zwirner with Jason Rhoades, circa 2000
David Zwirner sharing a moment with Raoul De Keyser at the artist’s first gallery solo show, Raoul De Keyser: Come on, play it again, 43 Greene Street, New York, 2001
Bellatrix Hubert working in back office, with On Kawara's date paintings, on view in On Kawara: One Million Years (Past and Future), 43 Greene Street, New York, 2001
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