David Zwirner has hired Ebony L. Haynes to create and oversee a new Manhattan gallery, which she intends to run with an all-Black staff, reports the New York Times. Haynes begins on October 1 and expects to open the gallery—whose name, location, and programming have yet to be determined—next spring.
Formerly the director of the Chinatown’s Martos Gallery, the Toronto-born Haynes hopes that the new enterprise will help remedy the significant lack of Black decision-makers in commercial art dealerships, a countrywide scarcity that reflects decades of entrenched inequality in the industry. “There aren’t enough places of access—especially in commercial galleries—for Black staff and for people of color to gain experience,” Haynes told the Times. “I want to make sure that I provide a space full of opportunities and encourage them.” She plans to showcase artists from a variety of backgrounds in four exhibitions annually, each of them accompanied by a publication.
The exhibitions Haynes organized at Martos Gallery include the group shows “Invisible Man” (2017), titled after Ralph Ellison’s novel, and “Ebsploitation” (2019), a Blaxploitation-inspired endeavor featuring the work of Arthur Jafa, Cauleen Smith, Carolyn Lazard, and Jessica Vaughn, among others. During her tenure there, Haynes also oversaw Shoot the Lobster, a spinoff of Martos Gallery with locations in New York and Los Angeles. This year, she spearheaded an independent initiative called Black Art Sessions, which offers free talks to Black students interested in the inner workings of exhibiting and selling contemporary art. At her new gallery, she will develop a paid internship program for Black students.
Haynes’s appointment arrives two months after Zwirner—who is one of the world’s most powerful art dealers, and who currently maintains three galleries in Manhattan—reduced his workforce by around 20 percent worldwide due to the pandemic. “Hopefully people can join the space and get poached and work in the art world,” Zwirner told the Times, citing The Studio Museum in Harlem as an inspiring model. “We don’t really have that incubator, so I was very interested in that part.”