New York Central Art Supply

New York, New York, USA

Closed 2016

The Disappointed Tourist: New York Central Art Supply, Ellen Harvey, 2023. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 18 x 24″ (46 x 61 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

According to Mary Gabriel’s “Ninth Street Women,” without Central Arts Supply, it’s possible that the Abstract Expressionists would never have transitioned to the large canvases for which they became known. The owner apparently got hold of several hundred rolls of beautiful Belgium linen for cheap after World War II and passed on the savings to the artists who could suddenly afford to work at a much larger scale. Anon

My father sold art supplies to them back in the day. Really loved the owners. Anon.

New York Central Art Supply was an art supply shop located in Manhattan’s East Village. The store was beloved by many artists both for its eccentric and knowledgeable staff, many of whom had worked there for decades and its vast and beautifully hand-labelled inventory. It was founded by Benjamin Steinberg in 1905 and continued to be run by members of the Steinberg family for 111 years before the building was sold in 2016.  According to Doug Steinberg, the family representative, the business struggled in the end due to the costs of unionizing and of running inventory without a computer. The painting is based on a photograph that I took when it was closing — it was my favorite art supply shop, so I was thrilled when this was submitted because this was where I bought all my supplies for over 20 years – I loved the hand-made signs and the people who worked there who seemed to know everything about every possible art material. I still feel sad when I walk past the building.