LUXURYCULTURE.COM - Dia:Beacon: Redefining the Art Museum


For the home of its important collection of contemporary art, the Dia Art Foundation collaborated with individual artists to create their own galleries within a monumental former factory converted by artist Robert Irwin.

Dia:Beacon is not your average contemporary art institution. Yes, it was conceived as a space to house a permanent collection – specifically, the collection of the Dia Art Foundation, founded in 1974 by Philippa de Menil and Heiner Friedrich, and which includes major works of art from the 1960s to the present. But more importantly, it was created as a space specifically to exhibit in-depth presentations of individual artists. Thus, each artist’s work is displayed in a dedicated gallery or galleries, many of which were created in collaboration with the artists themselves.

Housed in a 300,00-square-foot former printing factory on the Hudson River, near New York City, Dia:Beacon the building was reimagined in 2003 by American artist Robert Irwin in collaboration with OpenOffice architects. Aside from impressive design elements such as 34,000-square-feet of skylights, it is a place where art is given new priority. Even the park car features bays designed by Irwin that are each matched with a flowering fruit tree.

Inside, Dia:Beacon showcases a collection assembled largely during the 1970s and early 1980s. Thus, it features works by Joseph Beuys, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Fred Sandback, Cy Twombly and Andy Warhol. Works bought specifically for Dia’s new home included pieces by Louise Bourgeois, Sol LeWitt, Gerhard Richter and Richard Serra.

Before its relocation to one permanent gallery, the Dia Art Foundation was a pioneer of the conversion of industrial buildings for the installation of contemporary art, particularly in New York. At the time it was a groundbreaking way in which to show art, though has been widely adopted internationally. If its previous influence is any indicator, we should expect a lot more artist-designed galleries and associated car parks in the future.

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