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Dia To Return To Chelsea

From Lindsay Pollock:

After a lengthy search for a new home, the Dia Art Foundation will construct a brand new building in Chelsea at 545 West 22nd Street, a property the foundation already owns.

Dia, a presence in Chelsea since 1986, vacated two Chelsea venues in 2004. The foundation sold 548 West 22nd Street for $38.6 million to an unknown foreign buyer who has since lent the building to the not-for-profit X Initiative.

Dia leased a second property at 545 West 22nd Street to PaceWildenstein. Dia plans to begin construction in 2012, after Pace’s lease has terminated.

The new outpost, Dia:Chelsea, will exhibit commissioned artworks, long-term installations, as well as host public programs.

Dia is revealing little about the design or architect of the new building, other than to say it will be a “utilitarian space designed for the experience of art,” in a statement.

Dia was founded in 1974 and is known for strong Minimalist holdings.

The plan to erect a building in Chelsea is a reversal of Dia’s stated aims in 2007. Then director Jeffrey Weiss ruled out Chelsea as a future location and stated the board were looking for a “disused space” and said they would not “build a new building.” Weiss’ resigned his position after nine months on the job. Philippe Vergne was appointed director in 2008.

From a press release on the Dia website:

New building will house artists' commisions and installations and serve as a site for innovative scholarship and public programs

Nov 06, 2009

For Immediate Release, November 6, 2009, New York

Philippe Vergne, director, Dia Art Foundation, today announced that Dia will construct a new building in West Chelsea for a reinvigorated New York City program. It will be located at 545 West 22nd Street, on the footprint of a building that Dia currently owns. In keeping with the organization’s historical commitment to in-depth support of ambitious projects, the space will provide a New York City location for commissioned artworks. It will also house exhibitions; long-term installations; public programs including readings, lectures, and symposia; and performances.

The decision to open a new site in West Chelsea follows Dia’s 2004 closing of its former New York City space, which was in need of substantial renovation and was found to be inadequate for Dia’s programming needs. Dia subsequently explored other locations throughout Manhattan and, given the shift in the cultural landscape that has taken place since 2004, it determined that it would reestablish a presence in Chelsea. With the new site, Dia will again serve as an institutional anchor for the contemporary-art neighborhood that it pioneered in the late 1980s and that is now home to a rich mix of art galleries, theaters, public spaces, and diverse nonprofit organizations.

In addition, West 22nd Street is identified with three major Dia installations: Joseph Beuys’s 7000 Eichen (7000 Oaks), along West 22nd Street between and including 10th and 11th Avenues (1988); Dan Graham’s Rooftop Urban Park Project (1991), originally located on the roof of 548 West 22nd Street and to be reinstalled on the roof of Dia’s new building; and Dan Flavin’s untitled (1996), sited in the stairwells of 548 West 22nd Street.

Early planning for the building has begun, and the architecture and scale of the edifice—which will provide a utilitarian space designed for the experience of art—are being determined. The project represents the first time in its 35-year history that Dia has elected to construct a new building, rather than to re-use an existing one.

Mr. Vergne, working in collaboration with Dia’s staff and in dialogue with its board, is conceptualizing the artistic and architectural program for the new space, which will provide flexible conditions in which artists across generations, disciplines, and cultures can experiment and produce new works.

Mr. Vergne says, “Dia is a conduit for artistic production and experimentation. By establishing this site in Chelsea, Dia reaffirms and deepens its commitment to artists and their vision, as well as to New York City. Dia:Chelsea will facilitate the creation and presentation of new works, new ideas, and new discourse. It will expand Dia’s ability to enable exceptional works of art and inspire dialogue. We want to build a ‘dream house’ for artists.”

Dia Chairman Nathalie de Gunzburg states: “The vision that Philippe has articulated for Dia’s New York City space has galvanized the board of trustees, and we have embraced this major initiative with enthusiasm. We are thrilled to support Dia in providing living artists with a new platform for in-depth exploration and innovation.”

Dia:Chelsea will be informed by Dia Art Foundation’s long-term installations and by the collection housed at Dia:Beacon, in Beacon, New York. From its early commitment to permanent installations by individual artists in Soho and the Western United States, to its former program of commissioned projects in Chelsea, to Dia:Beacon, Dia has consistently maintained deep and direct relationships with artists and a long-term dedication to their work. The future Dia:Chelsea will further these ideals with a new generation of projects, accommodating installations of unusual scope or scale for extended periods of time.

Dia’s History in Chelsea
Dia has strong roots in Chelsea, beginning in the 1970s, when it provided Robert Whitman with a building, now The Kitchen, to use as a studio and performance space. From 1986 to 2004, Dia Center for the Arts, which led the radical transformation of Chelsea from a declining warehouse district into an international destination for contemporary art, operated at 548 West 22nd Street. Dia’s Manhattan-based programs have been highly respected for their depth, influence, and innovation. The new Dia:Chelsea will bring the institution back to the heart of this neighborhood.

Dia Art Foundation
A nonprofit institution founded in 1974, Dia Art Foundation is renowned for initiating, supporting, presenting, and preserving art projects. Dia displays selections from its collection of works from the 1960s through today at Dia:Beacon, Riggio Galleries, in Beacon, New York. In the fall of 2007, Dia initiated a partnership with The Hispanic Society of America, where Dia presents commissions and projects by contemporary artists within the Society’s galleries while developing a permanent home for these initiatives in New York City. Additionally, Dia maintains long-term, site-specific projects. These include Walter De Maria’s The New York Earth Room (1977) and The Broken Kilometer (1979), Max Neuhaus’s Times Square (1977), Beuys’s 7000 Eichen (7000 Oaks) (1988), and Dan Flavin’s untitled (1996), in Manhattan; The Dan Flavin Art Institute, in Bridgehampton, New York; Walter De Maria’s Vertical Earth Kilometer (1977), in Kassel, Germany; and Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty (1970) and De Maria’s The Lightning Field (1977), in the American West. For additional public information, visit