The dream team?
Will it happen, and what would be the implications if it did? The daunting prospect of a new trading partnership being formed by Charles Saatchi and Larry Gagosian has teased and terrorised the imagination of London’s contemporary art market throughout the summer and will be the most urgent topic of debate as dealers reopen for business at the beginning of this month.
Distinguishing rumour from reality is as problematic as reading the tea leaves of Mr Saatchi’s present intentions, since no plan of action appears to have been agreed, but these two powerful men are known to have held a series of informal conversations and interviews with confidants and prospective staff at the end of June when Mr Gagosian was in town for the contemporary art auctions, where he underbid Warhol’s “Mao” and Klein’s “Anthropometry” at Sotheby’s and was the unexpected purchaser of a large sculpture by Barry Flanagan at Christie’s.
Where the proposed gallery would be situated is one of the unresolved issues and Mr Saatchi is understood to have changed his mind on this crucial matter on several occasions, initially favouring New York and then London, and now, according to one source closely involved in developments, preferring a location in New York once again.
Agony in the garden
A proposed Saatchi-Gagosian trading axis has inspired a mixture of emotions in London’s dealing community, admiration at the sheer audacity of the venture being tempered by a genuine sense of anxiety. It would, of course, provide an enormous boost to the status of younger British contemporary art, the presumed area of the gallery’s activity and the focus of Mr Saatchi’s keenest attention during the last five or six years. Already he could be said to represent artists such as John Greenwood and Jenny Saville, who are not aligned to any existing dealer or agent and who have been painting pictures under contract to him. None of the five artists featured in “Young British Artists VI”, the new exhibition opening in the Saatchi Gallery this month (12 September-24 November) and includes Jordan Baseman, Daniel Coombs, Claude Heath, John Isaacs and Nina Saunders, is represented by a gallery and they could expect to benefit if their patron embarked upon a commercial enterprise in tandem with the expansion of his own collection.
The potential conflict of interest arises with the established names of younger British art: Jake and Dinos Chapman, for instance, or Damien Hirst, Marc Quinn and Rachel Whiteread, whose careers have been nurtured, to a greater or lesser extent, by Mr Saatchi’s interest in their work, and who have become highly profitable sources of revenue for their existing dealerships. Would they, or a painter such as Mark Francis who is beginning to earn a decent dividend for Maureen Paley and in whose work Mr Saatchi has recently made a substantial investment, maintain their present arrangements or be lured away by the prospect of a higher profile and a deeper purse? On balance, British dealers are hoping that Mr Saatchi and Mr Gagosian will pitch their headquarters in New York, where lucrative transatlantic alliances can be struck, rather than in London where they would become formidable competitors.
Sadie comes home
Who is the favoured candidate to front a proposed Saatchi-Gagosian partnership? Through the murky territory of speculation, innuendo, false trail and denial, one name emerges: Sadie Coles, who took charge of Anthony d’Offay’s programme of younger contemporary art before parting company with her employer in Dering Street at the end of March and repositioning herself in the studio of Jeff Koons in New York. Now she has returned to London and is “considering her options”. Should she decide to open her own gallery, there would be no shortage of supporters or artists anxious to work with her, but while she ponders her next step, she is involved in two curatorial projects: an exhibition of younger international contemporary art which she has conceived with Eva Meyer-Hermann and which will take place at the Kunsthalle Nuremberg in February 1997; and an exhibition of younger British art which she is organising for Milan dealer Gio Marconi.
Art and mash—with wine
Another venture taking shape under the curatorial guidance of Sadie Coles is the art collection being formed by entrepreneur Oliver Peyton for his original Soho establishment, the Atlantic Bar and Grill, and Coast, his more recent venture in Albemarle Street which is said to be Madonna’s favourite restaurant in London and where Angela Bullock’s drawing machine records the daily traffic of customers in brightly coloured felt pens. Mash, Mr Peyton’s new four-floor dining experience, is scheduled to open beside the Manchester Canal. The collection includes works by Mat Collishaw, Peter Doig, Angus Fairhurst, Douglas Gordon, Michael Joo, Tatsuo Miyajima and Mariko Mori, with new purchases by Craig Wood and Catherine Yass installed at the end of last month.
Since the end of last year, customers savouring seabass fillets with champagne and oyster juices and other such delicacies at these two centres of taste have been able to order a bottle of house wine decorated with a label designed by a contemporary artist. The project, which imitates the famous Mouton-Rothschild example but comes at a more affordable £12.50 per bottle, was launched by Damien Hirst (Macon Uchizy and Beaune), with new labels by Doig (Cotes du Rhone) and Miyajima (Burgundy) introduced in June. At the end of this month, Sarah Lucas (Merlot) and Liza May Post (Chardonnay) will be featured, with Jake and Dinos Chapman (Aroona Valley Chardonnay) waiting to arouse the palette at the end of this year.
D’Offay recruits Margo Heller
With the resignation of Sadie Coles and the recent departure of James Cohan for the townhouse in New York, a new staff appointment had become a pressing issue for Anthony d’Offay. He has recruited Margo Heller to be his new director of exhibitions. She will be reviewing the existing programme and is expected to recommend a tighter integration of the gallery’s established artists and the younger names whom it is keen to promote. As a result, the project room at the rear of 24 Dering Street will cease to function as the exclusive domain of younger British and international art.
Miss Heller arrives in London with impressive credentials. She was responsible as director for the Southampton City Art Gallery’s prize-winning major refurbishment in 1993. Her exhibitions include “Wall to Wall” (1994) which was conceived by Maureen Paley, and for which the museum commissioned a permanent installation by Daniel Buren in its main hall; and “Drawing the Line” (1995), Michael Craig-Martin’s touring exhibition of drawings which opened in Southampton. Major acquisitions attributable to her directorship include works by Helen Chadwick, Ian Davenport, Callum Innes, Abigail Lane, Rachel Whiteread and a painted room installation by Craig-Martin, and she was responsible for initiating a collection of video work featuring Douglas Gordon’s “Hysteria” and “Dancing in Peckham” by Gillian Wearing.
Miss Heller’s Dering Street curatorial baptism is a first exhibition in London for Boston Minimalist painter Ellen Gallagher (17 September-26 October) who is represented by Mario Diacono and exhibited with Mary Boone in 1995. Other younger artists whom the gallery will be showing in 1997 include Richard Patterson, Gabriel Orozco and Dutch photographer Liza May Post.
Catch up on Warhol’s classics “Sleep” and “Blow job” at d’Offay’s
A second member of Anthony d’Offay’s team is making his curatorial debut in London. Lorcan O’Neill, who has taken charge of exhibitions in Japan and South Korea but who has never created a special event in Dering Street, will be presenting “Against: thirty years of video and film” (17 September-26 October), a survey which will include new works by Gary Hume, Sarah Lucas and Tatsuo Miyajima. In total, some sixty hours of material will be packaged into six separate six-hour programmes, each of which will be screened daily for the course of a week in the rear gallery in 24 Dering Street. Other monitors will be placed in the front gallery where classic films such as Warhol’s “Sleep” and “Blow Job” will be shown. “Everyone has heard of these films but not many people have actually seen them”, commented Mr O’Neill, who is sporting a radical new hair style commissioned during a recent visit to the Far East, adding that Warhol would not have intended an audience to watch every frame of these celebrated masterpieces but to come and go as at the opera in the eighteenth century.
A new chairman for Patrons of New Art
At the Patrons of New Art Annual General Meeting held at the Tate Gallery on 4 July, director Nicholas Serota announced the name of the successor to present chairman Howard Karshan who retires from his post as leader of the museum’s contemporary art support group in June 1997. He is Stuart Evans, senior partner of city solicitors Simmonds & Simmonds, one of three firms of lawyers currently advising the museum on financial aspects of its proposed development of the Bankside power station.
Under the guidance of private dealer Thomas Dane, Mr Evans has acquired an interesting collection of works by younger British artists for his corporate headquarters near Broadgate. Mat Collishaw, Peter Doig, Tracey Emin, Angus Fairhurst, Mark Francis, Alex Hartley, Callum Innes, Michael Landy, Abigail Lane, Nicholas May, Fiona Rae, Georgina Starr, Mark Wallinger and Paul Winstanley are the names featured.
Mummery opens in Clerkenwell
Independent curator and agent Andrew Mummery, who worked as gallery manager of RAAB in Cork Street for five years, is opening a new exhibition space in the former headquarters of Michael Petrie’s Museum of Installation. His initial lease covers six months during which he will present five exhibitions of paintings or of works which make reference to the history of painting. He launches his plan with “Stepping Out” (12 September-5 October), which features twelve young or new international artists including Elizabeth McGill and Bert de Beul. Two solo exhibitions will follow: Louise Hopkins (9 October-7 November), currently appearing in “newcontemporaries 96” at the Camden Art Centre (to 8 September); and Maria Chevska (13 November-7 December) who was formerly represented by Anderson-O’Day. If developers interfere with the existing arrangement when his initial lease expires, Mr Mummery intends to continue his work at a new location in the same neighbourhood. 33 Great Sutton Street, London, EC1 Tel: +44 (0)171 385 7460 Fax: +44 (0)171 937 4198.
Figure it out
Karsten Schubert launches his autumn programme with an ambitious exhibition entitled “From figure to object” (12 September-22 November). It is a comprehensive survey of drawings created by sculptors during the last one hundred years, distinguished by stylistic differences but “sharing a reduction by one dimension”, as Mr Schubert describes it. Some drawings are utilitarian studies for sculptures; other sheets, such as those created by Joseph Beuys or Richard Serra, have a more distant or fluid relationship and are, essentially, independent or presentation works of art.
Long under consideration, the exhibition and its participants expanded like yeast as the list of artists grew. Mr Schubert has joined forces with Jane Hamlyn whose Frith Street Gallery will become a second location for the exhibition. In total, 114 artists ranging from Alfred Gilbert to Damien Hirst and Antoine Bourdelle to Matthew Barney will be represented. “Jane was the ideal partner”, explained Mr Schubert, “because she had been thinking of a similar exhibition and her gallery specialises in works on paper”.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'We will rock you'