Kavi Gupta amplifies voices of diverse and underrepresented artists to expand the canon of art history. Through innovative and ambitious exhibitions, multimedia programming, and rigorous publications, we foster an evolving conversation among international communities about art and ideas.
We believe culture is created by communities, and that representation is a step towards inclusivity and justice. Equity in the art field starts with everyone getting a seat at the table, but it does not end there. Our vision is to seek out and offer a platform to artists whose vitality expands and deepens the cultural conversation, especially if theirs is a voice that has been marginalized due to their identity, their social or political perspective, or their aesthetic position.
Our founder Kavi Gupta established his namesake gallery in 2000, in the West Loop neighborhood of Chicago. Today, we operate multiple museum-quality exhibition spaces at 835 W. Washington Blvd. and 219 N. Elizabeth St. in Chicago, and 219/215 E. Buffalo St. in New Buffalo, Michigan, as well as a large-scale warehouse and conservation center and a dedicated space for research and archives. Our publishing imprint, Kavi Gupta Editions, designs and publishes high-quality monographs, exhibition catalogues, artist editions, and academic texts, while regularly partnering with institutions and such art publishing leaders as Skira, Mousse, Phaidon, and DAP.
In addition to hosting more than a dozen major exhibitions each year, and participating in vital international art fairs such as Frieze New York and London, Frieze Masters, Art Basel Miami Beach, Art Basel Hong Kong, EXPO Chicago, and the New York Armory Show, we host artist talks, facilitate special programming in support of philanthropic causes, and foster intellectual discourse by regularly bringing artists, curators, and collectors together with academics and experts in the contemporary art field.
Throughout our history, it has remained crucial that we pursue the vision of a contemporary art field that is inclusive, diverse, and dynamic. Kavi, our founder, was born in Chicago to parents who immigrated from New Delhi, India. Before coming to America, the Gupta family was deeply involved in supporting the arts, and they brought that passion with them to the United States. Kavi’s father, an architect and engineer who worked on many significant buildings in the Chicago area, raised Kavi in an environment of creativity and taught him to think big. Throughout his undergraduate and graduate studies, Kavi immersed himself in the complementary worlds of art and business. His ambitions led him to learn everything he could about art history, and then to dedicate himself to making a life in the art world.
In the late 1990s, Kavi was one of the first to see opportunity in Chicago’s West Loop Area. He recalls strolling through the area with beloved Chicago philanthropist and art collector Lew Manilow shortly after returning from a trip to New York. Admiring the rugged beauty of the neighborhood’s numerous warehouses and industrial buildings, Kavi looked at Lew and said, “Do you know what this reminds me of?” Lew, thinking the same thing, said, “Chelsea.”
All the major Chicago galleries were in River North at the time, but Kavi felt the energy of the West Loop and knew that was where he wanted to be. He built out his first art space there by hand. Today, he owns two buildings in the neighborhood, which together present more than a dozen large-scale exhibitions a year, in addition to hosting the gallery’s professional offices, its publishing operation, Kavi Gupta Editions, and a dedicated space for research and archives. The nearby Pilsen neighborhood is home to Kavi Gupta’s main warehouse and production facility, while the gallery also recently established an exhibition space and warehouse facility in New Buffalo, Michigan.
Kavi’s wife Jessica Moss is an integral member of the executive team. Jessica comes from a long line of art lovers who were also pioneers in the Chicago art world. Her grandmother was art historian and professor Norma Lifton; her grandfather Robert (Bud) Lifton was chairman of American Printers & Lithographers Inc., which printed publications for Chicago-area museums, and was a member of the first board of the Hyde Park Federal Savings and Loan Association and later South Shore Bank, both of which fostered small business growth on Chicago’s South Side. They were extremely active in the Chicago art community as philanthropists and significant collectors of art, as well as original members of the Hyde Park Art Center. Among other achievements, their philanthropic activities contributed directly to the founding of WBEZ, Chicago’s public radio station. When Jessica’s grandmother passed away in the 1980s, the family and the Art Institute of Chicago honored her legacy by endowing an annual lecture series in her name, focused on female voices. Among the luminaries that the lecture series has brought to Chicago to speak are Linda Nochlin, Roberta Smith, Kellie Jones, Eugenia Parry Janis, Patricia Leighten, and Tsong-Zung Chang.
Jessica has represented her family’s legacy proudly. She served for 11 years at the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago working as a Curator of Contemporary Art. While there, she expanded the museum’s programming and contemporary collection and directed the creation of a series of award-winning art publications. In her current role as a Principal at Kavi Gupta, Jessica leads institutional development for artists and focuses on maximizing the potential of the gallery’s Chicago spaces through noteworthy historical exhibitions, solo exhibitions for the gallery’s esteemed artists and estates, writing, and special programming.
Setting Kavi Gupta’s programming apart is our key interest in discovering underrepresented and underappreciated artists who are deserving of global attention. Sometimes an artist is underexposed within the art world because their work is noncommercial, conceptual, or based on social practice concepts. Other times it is because they originate from a location too far from a major art center. Still other times, an artist is overlooked because of biases related to gender, race, or another aspect of personal identity. Kavi Gupta is intrinsically dedicated to finding such artists, facilitating their work, and promoting their efforts to the international art world.
The gallery has played an integral role in raising the profiles of emerging artists who have grown into crucial influencers within the contemporary art field. We have also shed light on underappreciated art movements that were overlooked because they occurred outside of the traditional narratives of art history, such as AFRICOBRA and the Chicago Imagists. As representatives of founding members of AFRICOBRA and the exclusive representative of the estate of Chicago Imagist leader Roger Brown, we are in a unique position to extrapolate these important movements and bring them much-deserved international attention.
In terms of artistic production, Kavi Gupta encourages the artists we represent to think big. We have proudly helped our artists realize visionary projects at many of the world’s leading contemporary art exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale, documenta Kassel, Germany, and Athens, and Prospect New Orleans. We prioritize investing investment resources to enable our artists to realize works through our large-scale production facility that might otherwise be considered too ambitious to be made. Kavi Gupta has also established itself as one of the foremost partners in the realization of meaningful, high-impact, contemporary public artworks.
Gupta Moss Collection
Kavi and Jessica have been collecting art together for almost 20 years. The Gupta Moss Collection includes works by some of the most dynamic and influential contemporary artists working today, including AFRICOBRA founders Jae and Wadsworth Jarrell and Gerald Williams, Firelei Báez, Nick Cave, Jeffrey Gibson, Sam Gilliam, Glenn Kaino, Titus Kaphar, Deborah Kass, Glenn Ligon, Kerry James Marshall, Angel Otero, Adrian Piper, Clare Rojas, Cindy Sherman, Devan Shimoyama, Lorna Simpson, Tony Tasset, Mickalene Thomas, and Yeesookyung. Its wide-ranging focus also includes works from contemporary Indian artists, such as Manish Nai and Zarina Hashmi; American artists Young-Il Ahn (1934–2020), Roger Brown (1941–1997), Sol LeWitt (1928–2007), and Jack Whitten (1939–2018); and self-taught artists Joseph Yoakum (1890–1972), Eugene Von Bruenchenhein (1910–1983), and Lee Godie (1908–1994).
Awards and Recognition
What is most rewarding to the Kavi Gupta team is that our commitment to exposing the global market to the work of underrepresented artists has brought such a thrilling new dimension to the contemporary art scene. Occasionally, extrinsic recognition is also appreciated, which is why Kavi Gupta is proud to be a three-time recipient of the prestigious International Association of Art Critics (AICA-USA) Award. The first AICA Award, for Best Show in a Commercial Space Nationally, was given to Kavi Gupta for An Epitaph for Civil Rights and Other Domesticated Structures by Theaster Gates in 2011. The next was for Apparatus by Roxy Paine in 2013. And the most recent was for I was born to do great things by Mickalene Thomas in 2015.
For more information about Kavi Gupta, the artists we represent, our exhibitions, our publications, or any of our past, future, or ongoing projects, please contact a member of our dedicated team at (312) 432-0708 or info@ kavigupta.com.