In the first of a series of publications on London galleries, with the remit being to shed some light on current and future exhibitions, and to take some thoughts on how a cross section of Gallerists think that the business of art in London might pan out this year, we took our new camera and note pad into the heart of London's art district, and spent some time with various dealerships to bring you the following report.
Alan Cristea Gallery Cork Street, London W1
The Alan Cristea Gallery opened at 31 Cork Street in 1995 and since then has expanded to a second exhibition space, essentially next door at 34 Cork Street. Both spaces show a continuous and varying programme of exhibitions including contemporary paintings, works on paper, sculpture and installations. We asked Alan a couple of questions about his gallery strategy.
How important have the Fairs become to your business, and do you see yourself doing more Fairs in the future, and why?
We took part in 9 art fairs last year and will be doing 8 this year – two in London – Frieze Masters and the London Original Print Fair at the Royal Academy, two in New York – the Armory fair and the International Fine Print Dealer Art fair, Art Basel, Art Basel Miami, Art Basel Hong Kong and finally the art fair in Chicago. They are becoming ever more important commercially. I can’t see us doing more than 8/9 per year because they are so labour intensive.
How important is the online aspect of your business, and are you seeing growth in that area for Alan Cristea Gallery?
Our online presence is very important to the business. In the first instance our website gives people across the world, who may not be able to visit the gallery in London, an opportunity to view our art works and exhibitions. This is supplemented by our use of social media platforms, which allows us to interact with our followers in a more informal way. We post information and pictures of what goes on behind the scenes at the gallery and art fairs, what our artists are up to in their studios, as well as new prints and editions. This aspect of our business continues to grow.
For additional information on Gallery events and Fair participation, visit the website:
Messum's Gallery Cork Street, London W1
Currently showing a new body of work by Peter Brown titled Paintings Of London, Messum’s est.1963, are best known as an independent family run firm representing and specialising in British art from the 19th Century to the present day, with a particular passion for and emphasis on the Newlyn and St. Ives schools, and British Impressionism, having written the first book on this genre in 1985.
Speaking with David Messum as to where he sees tastes and trends heading in the next year, he said that “in tougher economic times, such as we are currently experiencing, there was an interesting return to figurative art.” He went on to say that Cork Street was still a hive of art market activity, with the prospects of business definitely improving for most galleries on the street. When asked what bumps he might see in the London art market road in the coming year, he thought that the creation of Cork Street and surrounding areas, dedicated to art galleries, would help focus British dealers as International art brokers.
We then asked David what kind of ratio the gallery saw business happening in terms of the Fairs, online, and through the door gallery footfall, to which he replied “there is little doubt that both Fairs and increased activity online has brought new blood to the gallery and, in consequence, increased sales."
Peter Brown Paintings of London runs through to 12 February 2016.
For additional information, visit the website:
Waddington Custot Gallery Cork Street, London W1
Waddington Custot Galleries deals in modern and contemporary works of art: painting, sculpture and works on paper. A substantial inventory is held of work by major twentieth-century artists including Josef Albers, John Chamberlain, Henri Matisse, Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, Francis Picabia, Pablo Picasso, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, Antoni Tapies, William Turnbull and John Wesley.
The current Peter Blake solo exhibition titled, Peter Blake: Portraits and People, is accompanied by an exhibition catalogue with an essay by Marco Livingstone, and runs through to 30 January.
For more information, visit the website:
Flowers Gallery 21 Cork Street London, W1
Speaking with James Ulph, Director of Flowers Gallery, he was very upbeat about the future of Cork Street. "Business has been very consistent for some time now" he said, "there has been some misunderstanding about Cork Street, that it will no longer be a street for galleries, but this is not the case. When the construction work around us is finally completed, we will be presented with two very impressive new buildings, one of which a Richard Rogers design, the combined buildings housing 7 new galleries that I am sure will be a distinct improvement in terms of spaces on those that were here before. The larger of the two sites will also include a new arcade, the first I believe in Mayfair since the 1930s." He was confident that Cork Street will maintain its international reputation as an aspirational artistic centre point in London for Artists and Gallerists alike.
Flowers Gallery was established in 1970, and is perhaps best known for representing a wide range of predominantly British artists. They also have a strong stable of internationally recognised photographers. Exhibitions for 2016 include those for Michael Sandle, Ken Currie, Boomoon and Edward Burtynsky in the East End galleries, Boyd & Evans, Lucy Jones, Nicola Green and Patrick Hughes at Cork Street, and Tai-Shan Schierenberg, Nadav Kander and Ishbel Myerscough in their New York Gallery.
The current exhibition of John Loker paintings titled Space Is A Dangerous Country, runs through to 6 February 2016.
For additional information, visit the website:
Trinity House Paintings 50 Maddox Street London, W1
In a brief conversation with Leon Martyn of Trinity House, he recited that time old perpetual secondary market theme which most dealers - and auctioneers for that matter - can attest to. “Clients are constantly asking for the best works, and good works don’t stay on the wall for long." Trinity specialise in Impressionist and Post Impressionist art. After bursting onto the international art scene in 2006, and covering several high end fairs a year, they now have gallery space in Mayfair London, New York and the Cotswolds, in addition to participation in select high end international art fairs. In so far as what the future holds for them, and in keeping with market trends, Trinity will be introducing more contemporary and modern works to their offering, with shows penciled in for later on this year. “We remain versatile and adaptable to market trends, but quality must be the bench mark in everything we do."
We then asked about the difference between tastes in the Cotswolds and London.
“With the Broadway gallery the footfall from tourists is impressive, the Cotswolds is definitely still very much alive and kicking. One of the issues most gallerists have to deal with is getting people through the door which is why we continue to offer a varied, interesting and busy exhibition schedule. Online sales are definitely on the increase as well, with enquiries in the past year via our website, more than doubling. This is also a key avenue for generating business and the reason we need to stay up to date and why we are currently in the process of creating an impressive new website."
For additional information on forthcoming events, visit the website:
Osborne Samuel Gallery 23a Bruton Street London, W1
Peter Osborne and Gordon Samuel operate from a premises at 23a Bruton Street, in the heart of London’s Mayfair district, between Bond Street and Berkeley Square. Osborne Samuel Gallery is one of London’s leading specialists in Modern British painting and Sculpture and has a high reputation for the quality of its exhibitions and publications. In sculpture there is a strong emphasis on the work of Henry Moore and Lynn Chadwick; and in paintings the gallery deals in works by such as Auerbach, Aitchison, Burra, the post war abstraction of Pasmore, Heath, Frost, Hilton, Lanyon, Blackburn; the neo-romanticism of Sutherland, Vaughan, Craxton and Clough and many others.
The gallery specialises in British 20th century prints and is the main dealer in the linocuts of the Grosvenor School.
Currently exhibiting at the London Art Fair at the Business Design Centre in Islington, Peter Osborne - always a straight talker - was very generous with his time and we chatted, and he gave us his take on the forthcoming year:
"London Art Fair is a season opener and we never have high expectations, it doesn’t draw top collectors, it does draw a good local retail crowd looking for interesting pieces of value, and it serves as a good place to show artists at the beginning of their careers. It’s a dilemma for us because being a middle heavyweight gallery we’re always tempted to show our best things, but we also use the occasion to introduce new primary market artists in our stable.
We really have no idea who will turn up, none of our best clients come to the show, and when we speak with them they always say Islington is a bit tricky to get to. But Islington has an edge, lots of artists project spaces, a far more experimental art scene, it defintely has that edgy younger crowd. There has been lots of people there, and we’ve sold a big Terry Frost piece, a big Kossoff, a big Grayson Perry piece and for a lot of money, so you never can tell. Last year, for example, we only sold young artists.
Some of the dealers have brought exceptional things, and generally speaking if something amazing comes out, someone will come along and grab it; at the moment there is a really important Nicholson on the floor that everyone is interested in. From a collectors perspective, there is an excellent choice of things to look at and to gauge what's coming up next in terms of tastes, it’s a great place to go.
As far as the coming year is concerned, we think it will be an interesting year, there are plenty of indications that it’s not going to be a great year. One of the things that stimulates the market are new collectors coming in, therefore dealers are always looking for the new market. If I had to forecast, I think some of the air is going to go out of the contemporary art market, a calming down process might occur. House brick sized catalogues at auctions filled to the rafters with semi known names will start to struggle. The ratio between success and failure, is going to tilt. There is simply too much coming onto the market at a time when demand is weakening.
The blue chip end of the market, things are different, things are still moving. People are definitely still looking at blue chip art in addition to traditional investments. We’ve survived during dips simply because we have made absolutely sure that we carry pieces that under any circumstances, are considered as blue chip investments. In a nervous economy, it’s a good place to put money for dealers and collectors alike."
For additional information on Osborne Samuel Gallery events, visit the website:
The Mayor Gallery 2nd Floor 21 Cork Street London, W1
The Mayor Gallery is one of those galleries that most people have a real soft spot for. Famous for launching a UK presence for masters such as Miró and Calder, and of course being the very first gallery to exhibit the genius of Francis Bacon, these factors all contribute towards a legacy which continues to be built on by James Mayor and his team. The Mayor Gallery was one of the galleries that re-located due to the initial construction works in Cork Street, however, and speaking with James, they really rather like it on the second floor of 21 Cork Street. With online business picking up dramatically for them, and connections made at the Art Fairs bringing a constant stream of clients back to the gallery.
Below are a few images of an off-site exhibition currently being staged at The Art Bermondsey Project Space. Represented are "LAb[au]", a Belgium collective who create both kinetic and static works. This was a special edition exhibition in conjunction with the Lumiere London outdoor light festival which took place between 14 and 17 January. The LAb[au] exhibition runs through to 31 January 2016 at the Art Bermondsey Project Space. In addition, James is currently staging an exciting exhibtion of works by Ivor Abrahams RA at his Cork Street Gallery, which runs through to February 6th.
For further information, visit the website:
We'd like to thank all those who assisted us, and have been so very generous with their time in order that we could create this publictaion. In part two, we speak with representatives of Richard Green Gallery, Opera Gallery, Halcyon Gallery, White Cube, Hauser and Wirth and more. If you would like to receive notification of future publications, you can sign up to our newsletter here.
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