Gallery Review: DTR Modern Galleries, Washington DC
For a gallery that features Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami, and Joan Miró, DTR Modern's Washington DC gallery facade is strangely inconspicuous. In fact, if you weren't aware of its existence, you could walk right by without notice.
The gallery has a small door and one window which usually displays a single piece of art, typically a canvas. The work is never labeled though at the very bottom of the window, the names "Picasso, Hirst, Warhol" are engraved, presumably as featured artists. I took a visit to the gallery—which also has locations in New York, Boston, and Palm Beach—to check out its offerings.
This is a commercial gallery. The art inside is there to be sold. When I walked in, I was briefly greeted by two gallerists who quickly resumed their business phone calls. Unlike Gagosian or David Zwirner, DTR did not attempt to curate an exhibition around their offerings. Instead, works were simply placed around the gallery, sometimes sorted by artist. The Hirst spot paintings, for example, were all placed closely together in the main entry hall. There is a nice greenhouse-like space within the gallery that lets natural light in, but a few of the paintings there weren't even hung up, as if they had been already sold or were expected to sell sooner than was convenient to properly hang up. The art here is trendy. There is no avant-garde psychological work here. The colors are bright and a lot of it looks street art-inspired. The pieces here basically look like perfect additions to a stylish, modern downtown NYC apartment.
I actually liked the organized chaos that was present during my visit to the gallery. The occupied gallerists, the stickered canvases, and the unhung works were proof that the art market was well and alive. Clearly people were interested in and purchasing modern and contemporary art.
Those expecting a themed or curated display of art with some context may be initially disappointed, but there was a nice display of older modern art from artists Fernand Léger and Joan Miró upstairs. The gallery is overall quite small (the space is essentially a repurposed Georgetown rowhouse) but the natural light is great and the upstairs level is calmer and more meditative (though this could have been because of the artwork inheriting the space at that moment).
I was able to discern a lot of the artists because of my knowledge on modern and contemporary art, but not one artwork was labeled beyond a small number of artists’ scraggly signatures on a select few pieces. This may be frustrating for some, but I find that it can actually be nice just to enter the gallery to see what is being offered on the market. If you enter DTR knowing this, you can visit the space with an aesthetic-focused approach and allow your own interpretations to take center stage, as there is no context provided by the gallery. I've featured some images of the gallery below.
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