Alternative Histories

Alternative Histories

New York Art Spaces, 1960-2010

Edited by Lauren Rosati and Mary Anne Staniszewski

A groundbreaking history of pioneering alternative art venues in New York where artists experimented, exhibited, and performed outside the white cube and the commercial mainstream.





A groundbreaking history of pioneering alternative art venues in New York where artists experimented, exhibited, and performed outside the white cube and the commercial mainstream.

This groundbreaking book—part exhibition catalogue, part cultural history—chronicles alternative art spaces in New York City since the 1960s. Developed from an exhibition of the same name at Exit Art, Alternative Histories documents more than 130 alternative spaces, groups, and projects, and the significant contributions these organizations have made to the aesthetic and social fabric of New York City. Alternative art spaces offer sites for experimentation for artists to innovate, perform, and exhibit outside the commercial gallery-and-museum circuit. In New York City, the development of alternative spaces was almost synonymous with the rise of the contemporary art scene. Beginning in the 1960s and early 1970s, it was within a network of alternative sites—including 112 Greene Street, The Kitchen, P.S.1, FOOD, and many others—that the work of young artists like Yvonne Rainer, Vito Acconci, Gordon Matta-Clark, Ana Mendieta, David Wojnarowicz, David Hammons, Adrian Piper, Martin Wong, Jimmie Durham, and dozens of other now familiar names first circulated.

Through interviews, photographs, essays, and archival material, Alternative Histories tells the story of such famous sites and organizations as Judson Memorial Church, Anthology Film Archives, A.I.R. Gallery, El Museo del Barrio, Franklin Furnace, and Eyebeam, as well as many less well-known sites and organizations. Essays by the exhibition curators and scholars, and excerpts of interviews with alternative space founders and staff, provide cultural and historical context.

ContributorsJacki Apple, Papo Colo, Jeanette Ingberman, Melissa Rachleff, Lauren Rosati, Mary Anne Staniszewski, Herb Tam

IntervieweesSteve Cannon, Rhys Chatham, Peter Cramer and Jack Waters, Carol Goodden, Alanna Heiss, Bob Lee, Joe Lewis, Inverna Lockpez, Ann Philbin, Anne Sherwood Pundyk and Karen Yama, Irving Sandler, Adam Simon, Martha Wilson


$29.95 T ISBN: 9780262017961 408 pp. | 7.75 in x 9.75 in 120 color illus., 30 b&w illus.


Lauren Rosati

Lauren Rosati is Assistant Curator in the Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art and the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. She previously held curatorial positions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Academy Museum, and Exit Art.

Mary Anne Staniszewski

Mary Anne Staniszewski is an Associate Professor in the Department of the Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and author of The Power of Display: A History of Exhibition Installations at the Museum of Modern Art (MIT Press) and, during the past twenty-five years, has overseen or contributed to various Exit Art publications and projects.


  • In some 400 pages this book provides thumbnail sketches of more than 140 alternative spaces and related organizations, including the artist-run restaurant Food, Bomb magazine and the activist group Gran Fury…This is an indispensable source boo that leaves you wanting more—specifically, individual studies of some of the organizations it covers. It stands as a vibrant and irrefutable evidence of what happens when people take things into their own hands.

    The New York Times