The Terrain Gallery is an art gallery in New York, N.Y., established in 1955 by Dorothy Koppelman (1920-) and informed by the guiding philosophy of Eli Siegel's Aesthetic Realism. The Terrain has as its motto as stated by Siegel, "In reality opposites are one; art shows this" and also gave rise to the Aesthetic Realism Foundation, a not-for-profit educational foundation."
In 1954, Dorothy Koppelman (1920-) and her husband artist Chaim Koppelman (1920-2009) formed a partnership with colleagues—artists, writers, photographers—to establish the Terrain Gallery. The gallery's first home was at 20 West 16th Street in New York City, and then moved to 39 Grove Street, New York, N.Y. from 1963- 1973; in 1973, the gallery moved to its present address at 141 Greene Street. Simultaneously, the Terrain Gallery gave rise to the Aesthetic Realism Foundation, a not-for-profit educational foundation. Terrain Gallery continues to give exhibitions and presentations based on Eli Siegel's statement: "All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves."
The Terrain has featured paintings, sculptures, watercolors, and graphics, as well as photographic exhibitions, which have shown the work of both younger and established artists. Representative art photographers have included Ralph Hattersley, David Bernstein, Louis Dienes, Nat Herz, Lou Bernstein, Andre Kertesz, Steve Poleskie, Len Bernstein, and Harvey Spears. Every exhibition has included comment by artists and critics about how opposites are one in the technique and form of the works of art on view. Chaim Koppelman, for many years, headed the gallery's Print Division; printmakers such as Will Barnet, Leonard Baskin, Robert Conover, Edmond Casarella, Vincent Longo, and Nicholas Krushenick were frequent exhibitors. Though the Terrain does not maintain a stable of artists, the gallery has represented many well-known artists, including Richard Anuszkiewicz, Robert Blackburn, Lois Dodd, William King, Chaim and Dorothy Koppelman, Roy Lichtenstein, Harold Krisel, Larry Rivers, Clare Romano, and Arnold Schmidt.
Beginning in 1955 with a series of talks by the Seurat Art Club, the gallery has held lectures, seminars, and dramatic presentations that are open to artists, scholars, and the general public. As part of its educational outreach, the Terrain Gallery publishes catalogs, broadsides, announcements, and monographs. Eli Siegel's seminal fifteen questions, "Is Beauty the Making One of Opposites?" was published in Terrain Gallery's opening announcement, February 26, 1955, and subsequently reprinted in The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, and elsewhere.
Bennett Schiff, art critic for a major New York newspaper, wrote in June, 1957, "There probably hasn't been a gallery before this like the Terrain, which devotes itself to the integration of art with all of living according to an esthetic principle which is part of an entire, encompassing philosophic theory…Aesthetic Realism: 'The art of liking oneself through seeing the world, art, and oneself as the aesthetic oneness of opposites'…the theory developed by Eli Siegel….It is a building, positive vision."
In 1972, the Terrain Gallery appointed Carrie Wilson to serve as co-director with Dorothy Koppelman. The following year, the Terrain became part of the Aesthetic Realism Foundation which includes in its curriculum courses in the visual arts. The Terrain Gallery continues to hold exhibitions and presentations based on the principles of Aesthetic Realism. Chaim Koppelman died in 2009 in New York City. Dorothy Koppelman (1920-) is a consultant on the faculty of the Aesthetic Realism Foundation, and serves as one of the gallery's coordinators with Carrie Wilson, Marcia Rackow, Nancy Huntting, Dale Laurin, Donita Ellison, and Dan McClung.