Matt Moravec never takes the obvious route. Where most gallerists of his ilk—showing a roster of emerging international artists—would head to New York’s Lower East Side, he opened Off Vendome on 23rd Street, in the heart of Chelsea. The two-story space is certainly a step up (and an ocean away) from the gallery’s original Düsseldorf location, where the academically trained, non-practicing photographer first decided to exercise his curatorial muscle. The German city wasn’t necessarily known for contemporary art, but Moravec helped put it on the map.
After two years there, he knew the time was right to make a move. “New York has a very specific openness to new things that I haven’t found anywhere else,” he says. “Collectors here are much savvier than they are in other places and much more in tune with emerging artists.”
“I try to be careful about how I extend myself,” he says. “I’m hoping that the benefits that arise from an art fair will also come from more self-organized events. Interesting spaces already know the other interesting spaces that they would want to be contextualized with or share an artist with.”
Taking matters into his own hands is nothing new for Moravec. “During Frieze New York, I’ve invited five different galleries to share Off Vendome with me. There will be a variety of work on view, with little shared expense. We’ll do a big communal dinner and invite collectors, artists and friends. Hopefully this format will help to feed the needs of what younger galleries cannot get out of traditional art fairs.”