‘Art on the Block’: Works That Capture Gentrification and Change in the New York Art World


It’s not news that the Lower Manhattan of the ’70s and ’80s is nearly unrecognizable today, especially since rising rents and continued gentrification have pushed out the artists who made neighborhoods like Soho, the East Village, and the Lower East Side so desirable. In her new book, Art on the Block: Tracking the New York Art World From SoHo to the Bowery, Bushwick and Beyond, Ann Fensterstock examines how those neighborhoods have changed in the last few decades with firsthand stories from the artists and gallery owners who had a hand in the scene that shaped — and eventually changed — those areas. After the jump, take a look at a selection of works that highlight the artistic wave from the last three decades.

Babette Mangolte, Roof Piece (Trisha Brown), 1973, photograph of Trisha Brown’s Roof Piece performed from 53 Wooster to 381 Lafayette Street, New York City, 1973. Courtesy Babette Mangolte.

Meryl Meisler, Cars on Palmetto Street, Bushwick, 1985/2013, 2013, archival pigment print. Courtesy of Meryl Meisler.

Efrain Gonzalez, Transgender Girls Working on West Street in Greenwich Village, 1986, black and white photograph. Courtesy of Efrain Gonzalez.

Bernard Guillot, 12th Avenue, (dedicated to Orpheus and Euridyce), Plate LX111, 1977, gelatin silver print. Courtesy Bernard Guillot and Skoto Gallery, NY.

Stephen Wilkes, Highline, Day to Night, 2009, digital C-print. Courtesy of Stephen Wilkes and ClampArt.

Loren Munk, The Bowery and the Lower East Side, 2009-10. Oil on linen, 66 x 36 inches. Courtesy of Loren Munk and Lesley Heller Workspace, NY.

Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa (SANAA), New Museum of Contemporary Art, 2007 and Ugo Rondinone, Hell Yes!, illuminated sign, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the New Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo by Dean Kaufman.

Inka Essenhigh, Lower East Side, 2009, oil on canvas, 70 x 74 inches. Courtesy of Inka Essenhigh, 303 Gallery, NY, and Victoria Miro Gallery, London.

Julian Schnabel, Portrait of Andy Warhol, 1982, oil on velvet, 108 x 120 inches. Courtesy of Julian Schnabel.

Erik Benson, Brownfield (site), 2010, acrylic on canvas over panel, 60 x 94 inches. Courtesy of Erik Benson and Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art, NY.

Greg Lindquist, McCarren Pool in the Dawn of Luxury, 2006, oil on linen, 22 x 44 inches. Courtesy of Greg Lindquist and the collection of William J. Lindquest.

Peter Hujar, David Lighting Up in Manhattan-Night (1), 1985, vintage gelatin silver print. Courtesy The Peter Hujar Archive LLC, Pace/MacGill Gallery, NY, and Fraenkel Gallery, CA.

Frederick Brosen, West 25th Street, 1996, watercolor, 32 x 46 inches. Courtesy of Frederick Bosen.

William Powhida and Jennifer Dalton, Our Condolences, Volume 1 (Original Card #5 [All Good Things…]), 2008, watercolor and pencil on paper, 2 panels; 6 x 9 inches. Courtesy of William Powhida and Jennifer Dalton, Schroeder Romero Gallery and Winkleman Gallery, NY.