New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Beyond NYU: How 2 brothers went from creating art to opening a gallery

Sam Kapp and his twin brother always had a passion for making art. Now, they work together to run their own gallery in New York City.
CAS alum Sam Kapp. (Courtesy photo by Alex Hodor Lee)

CAS alum Sam Kapp always loved to create art with his twin brother, Daniel, but didn’t consider it something he could pursue professionally. After graduating in 2017, the Kapp brothers were able to make a career out of what was once a hobby by creating Kapp Kapp gallery, their own art gallery in New York City.

The Kapp brothers’ work at the gallery has earned the two a spot on the 2024 edition of Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list under the arts and style category. Their art gallery has caught the eyes of many for showcasing “insightful, vibrant, and intimate exhibitions.”

In an interview with WSN, Kapp discussed his experience studying art history and studio art, the process that went into creating Kapp Kapp and his goal to represent diverse artists within his gallery.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

WSN: What inspired you to study art history while at NYU?

Kapp: My first year, I ended up in this seminar about performance art and environmental art. I had no idea what I was taking — it was sort of just a naive, first-year decision. I just ended up falling totally in love. I was amazed by the material, and I began consciously pursuing art history. I was just completely mesmerized. It made me appreciate the ability to study art history, or contemporary art, in New York City, where it was the center of many of these major modern and contemporary art movements. That course really opened my eyes in many ways. Once I took that modern art course, I was like, “it’s pretty much decided: This is what I will be.”

Growing up, Kapp said he would attend extracurricular art courses, workshops and camps with his brother, which inspired them to create art in various different mediums. He also said that in high school, he would collaborate with his brother on projects in art classes and discovered that, when working together, they could create something better together than on their own. Kapp saw himself attending a small, liberal arts college, but he ended up at NYU “by chance” after one of his friends, who was already planning to go to the university, convinced him to attend.

WSN: Could you tell me more about the process of creating Kapp Kapp?

Kapp: It goes back to the privilege of getting to be in New York City studying art. I interned at a gallery when I was a sophomore at NYU, and from there I was connected to another gallery, and from there another gallery, and effectively spent my whole undergrad interning in art galleries and I just completely loved it. I learned how incredible it was working with artists and got to see an artist manifest a project and be there as the structure and support to make something like that happen.

During Kapp’s senior year at NYU, he worked as an intern at Lévy Gorvy Dayan gallery and was eventually able to work with the senior director of the gallery. In 2019, Kapp and his brother moved to Philadelphia to begin plans to create the Kapp Kapp gallery, opening a second small location in New York City in 2020. In 2022, the brothers decided to focus their resources on a New York City location and opened their current space in lower Manhattan.

WSN: What made you transition from creating art to displaying it in exhibits instead? 

Kapp: Ultimately, we both realized we did not like our own art — it’s part of what guided us to opening the gallery. What we produce at the gallery, the shows we present here, are kind of our art and that is the expression of our creativity. I don’t think I would have been as confident to say I’m an artist if I hadn’t stuck with art-making through the minor in studio art at NYU. 

Kapp said one exhibit that stuck with him was a collaboration with Paris-based artist Alex Foxton. They had brought to life an idea of making paintings based on Stanley Stellar’s photography, who they were able to work alongside. In the first week of May, Kapp will present at the Frieze New York, an international art fair, for the first time after attending it every year while at NYU. Kapp said that he and his brother also hope to incorporate music into their gallery in some form.

WSN: What was it like to be featured in Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list this year? 

Kapp: It was really cool. I feel like, doing what we do at the gallery, there’s very few ways to be recognized. I do think what we do here is very important, but we’re also not creating world peace by any means. I never really would have expected any kind of honor in that way. It was a surprise and just totally special. We spend so much time deep in the work we do here that I’m often not thinking about if what we’re doing is penetrating in a way, or how people are engaging with what we present here. So just to get that kind of acknowledgement was very cool.

Contact Aashna Miharia at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Aashna Miharia
Aashna Miharia, Deputy News Editor
Aashna Miharia is a first-year studying journalism and public policy with a minor in business studies. She’s from the Boston area and a novelist, coffee enthusiast and lover of independent bookstores. You can usually find her listening to an audiobook while wandering around New York City or on Instagram @aashnamiharia.

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