Andrea Rosen, BA '84 (Visual Arts) Owner of The Andrea Rosen Gallery, NYC
The Andrea Rosen Gallery on West 24th Street in New York City is understated, like many of the other privately owned galleries in this once industrial area of the city. Inside and out, it’s every inch modern, with clean lines, glass and concrete allowing the contemporary art on exhibition to be the focus.
When owner Andrea Rosen, BA’84 (Visual Arts), isn’t travelling the world to visit artists’ studios or attend art fairs like Art Basel Miami, Art Basel Switzerland or the Biennale in Venice, Italy, the striking bleached-blonde is in the Big Apple, working with a 20-plus staff who help keep her gallery on the leading edge of the contemporary art scene. Described as the “tough, platinum princess of the Chelsea gallery scene,” she represents upwards of 25 of the world’s best contemporary artists including England’s Nigel Cooke and premier Canadian artist David Altmejd.
Armed with her Western degree, Rosen moved New York some 28 years ago to work in a variety of gallery jobs, even starting, but not completing, a masters in East Asian studies at Columbia University. “When you’re starting out, you don’t have any idea of the complexity of the world you’re entering, so, I didn’t really know what I was going to do when I left Western. I definitely knew I wanted to live in New York, but when I moved here, I didn’t have an accurate sense of what a working gallery really was; I couldn’t possibly have had that kind of clarity when leaving school because I was just so naive,” she says.
“But on an intuitive level, I knew I wanted to be in a place where there was the ability to have a voice, where people were eager to be inspired and be inspired by each other.” A job as director at the Daniel Newburg Gallery saw her leave Columbia, and, after a year, open her own Soho gallery in 1990 because there were artists she wanted to show, and “I felt it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”
The Kingston, Ont.-born and raised Rosen established her star path with a Felix Gonzalez-Torres exhibition that set her apart as discerning and perceptive. Today, she represents the estate of the legendary conceptual artist who died of AIDS in 1996, and manages his foundation as well. “He was generous and active and responsible,” Rosen told art writer Adam Lindemann in 2006, “and he articulated in his work this idea that you could actually have a voice in the public world.” Rosen continues to seek out those artists whose voice is intertwined with the content and medium of their work.
Mid-career now, Rosen – who lives in the West Village with her daughter and furniture designer husband Simrel Achenbach – is thoughtful about her Canadian roots and her time at Western. “I chose to go to Western because of the liberal arts program. The diversity of the classes I was able to take while studying art history made it compelling and interesting. I especially remember how influential philosophy was for me.
“The voice I sought as an American, really as a New Yorker, is tempered by the responsibility I know comes with having a voice. I don’t know if I could have articulated such a view if I wasn’t Canadian.”