Sukanya Rajaratnam, a New York dealer known for mounting historically significant exhibitions of underrepresented artists, will join White Cube as global director of strategic market initiatives in September.
Earlier this year, Rajaratnam announced that she would leave her role as partner at Mnuchin Gallery after 15 years. During her tenure there, she was known for staging groundbreaking exhibitions of artists who had long been overlooked by the mainstream art world, including Sam Gilliam, Ed Clark, Alma Thomas, Betty Blayton, Mary Lovelace O’Neal, and David Hammons, whose five-decade retrospective in 2016 is still on one of the most comprehensive exhibitions of the elusive artist ever mounted. In the process, she also helped to build up markets for these artists.
In a statement, White Cube founder Jay Jopling said, “I have closely followed Sukanya’s exhibition programming over the past years and consider her to be one of the most outstanding market-makers in the art world. I am delighted that she has chosen to join White Cube and I look forward very much to working with her.”
Based in New York, Rajaratnam’s new role, according to a release, “will focus on market-making and exhibition-making” across White Cube’s various locations, which currently includes permanent ones in London, Hong Kong, and Paris, as well a seasonal West Palm Beach space.
In a statement, Rajaratnam said, “I admire the curatorial integrity that White Cube brings to its artists and estates and am excited to be able to contribute to that across a global platform. We may be at an inflection point in the market and I believe it is imperative for galleries to add value through exhibition programming and content.”
White Cube will also open its first New York location later this year and hired Courtney Willis Blair, a former partner at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, to lead the space last November. Located at 1002 Madison Avenue in New York’s Upper East Side, the space’s inaugural exhibition, organized by Willis Blair, will be titled “Chopped & Screwed.” Exploring “the idea of distortion as both a formal and conceptual tool used to examine and subvert well-established narratives or systems,” per a release, the show will include work by artists like Theaster Gates, David Hammons, Christian Marclay, Tiona Nekkia McClodden, Julie Mehretu, and Nathaniel Mary Quinn.
In addition to news of Rajaratnam’s hiring, White Cube also announced that it will expand to Seoul, which was first reported by the Financial Times. Citing the success of the inaugural edition of Frieze Seoul last September, the new ground-floor, 3,230 square-foot space will consist of exhibition spaces, a viewing room, and offices. Located in the capital city’s Gangnam-gu district, it will be in the same building as the private museum Horim Art Centre, which focuses on Korean antiquities and modern art.
In the past two years, numerous Western galleries have expanded to Seoul, including Gladstone, Esther Schipper, Perrotin, and Thaddaeus Ropac, which recently announced that it will add another floor to its Seoul location. Two galleries, Pace and Lehmann Maupin, that had established presences in the city slightly earlier also recently grew their footprint. And in March, the Centre Pompidou confirmed rumors that it would open a branch in Seoul, tentatively scheduled to open in 2025.