News from London: A time of transitions for Hauser & Wirth, Gagosian, and Tate magazine, while Royal Academy prize-winner gets more than he bargained for

Meanwhile, Tracy Emin is compared to Chinese takeaway


Hauser & Wirth open new gallery in Piccadilly

The Art Newspaper predicted it back in February, and now Zurich gallerist-collectors Ursula Hauser & Iwan Wirth confirm that they have completed their exhaustive planning and purchasing negotiations and will be opening a new London base next month in the imposing four-storey, Lutyens-designed former Barclays Bank next door to Wren’s St James’s Church in Picadilly, just across the road from the Royal Academy. The new Hauser & Wirth gallery, one of Lutyens’s most important London buildings, is being restored by the New York-based architect Annabelle Selldorf and opens on 16 October with specially made new work by Paul McCarthy, who has been filming in the building prior to its restoration and refurbishment. Although McCarthy’s film and sculpture is being kept under wraps, the jetsam grapevine can report the, perhaps inevitable, aroma of future controversy, with images of the Royal family and the US president being incorporated in the maestro of maelstrom’s new œuvre. In any case, with a gallery list that includes such mega luminaries as Louise Bourgeois, Dan Graham, Jason Rhoades, and Pipolitti Rist, this new arrival in the capital’s West End will be making everyone sit up and take notice.

Janet Street-Porter rants

Not only was the toothsome Janet Street-Porter’s stand-up tirade against her family, the media world, and other animals, the runaway hit of this summer’s Edinburgh Festival (the grand finale found the resourceful former architect, producer, director, presenter, TV executive, editor and journalist making the audience into a focus group to advise on future careers with running a tea room and head of the Conservative Party emerging as winning options), but her pal Damien Hirst’s poster advertising J S-P’s “All the rage” grumpfest also proved to be the Fest’s leading artwork. No sooner was Hirst’s eye-catching design of two dentally-fullsome Streetporters grimacing over a predictably dotty background pasted over the fair city, than it was ripped down by punters with a keen eye for investment. However this did not prevent each show being packed to the rafters. Sadly, Hirst was too busy working on his forthcoming White Cube show to make the trip north.

Margate council blocks Emin’s neon

As Margate awaits its snazzy new Turner Centre, it has also commissioned Tracey Emin, its other illustrious artistic figure, to produce a neon work for Droit House, a listed building in Margate old town, which houses all the information about the new centre and Turner’s links with Margate, and which will also double as an art gallery, in the form of a new, Terry Farrell-designed extension. However, Emin’s pink neon which declares “I never stopped loving you” has not captured the heart of Thanet District Council, whose planning committee have refused to grant planning permission for the piece. Apparently a Chinese takeaway had also applied to erect a neon sign in the old town, and the good burghers of Margate, who are not too savvy to the nuances of multimedia works of art, did not feel that they could allow one and not the other... Another councillor’s suggestion that the Emin piece be installed on the town’s Council building instead, received a predictably frosty reception...

Royal Academy’s Aztec holiday

The lucky winner of the Royal Academy’s competition for a week’s holiday in Mexico, to experience Aztec culture first hand, got rather more of an eyeful than he expected when he found himself put up in the Blue Bay Getaway resort in Cancun, an establishment more famous for down and dirty in-house entertainment than a commitment to high culture. “I was expecting a very cultural experience, a little bit of pottering around the Mayan ruins” said Mr Andrew Humphreys, who instead was treated to nightly shows which “normally ended up as a stripping contest, sometimes verging on a live sex show.” The Academy was eager to emphasise to the Art Newspaper that they had had nothing to do with the selection of the hotel, with accommodation arrangements made by competition sponsors Airtours Holidays. For his part, Mr Humphreys, once he got over his initial surprise, thoroughly enjoyed his stay, describing his experience as “a real insight.”

Maserati steals the show at Risley’s new gallery opening

The barbecue sizzled and the hallucinogenic landscape paintings of Masakatsu Kondo bounced off the retina at the summer opening of David Risley’s new gallery, just off the Hackney Road in Laburnam Street, East London. However the show was nearly stolen by the installation of a handsome Maserati car, belonging to Risley’s brother Colin, in the courtyard. It may have been hidden from the acquisitive eyes of the local boy racers lurking in the street outside, but it is debatable whether it fared better in the bosom of the heaving art crowd, who, when not pressing their greasy faces to its windows to admire its fleshy Matthew Barneyesque cream leather interior, were using it as an impromptu picnic table. Art we can deal with, classy bodywork is still an alien novelty, it seems.

Rachel Whiteread goes to go-go

For some time it seemed likely, and now it’s happened: Rachel Whiteread has joined Gagosian Gallery. Although she’s still with Luhrung Augustine in the US, in whose stable she can enjoy the company of both contemporaries, or near contemporaries, such as Damien Hirst, Cecily Brown, who is no longer with Victoria Miro in London, and Jenny Saville while also benefiting from the lustrous context of such venerable figures as Cy Twombly, Richard Serra, et al.

Condé Nast loses Tate

Latest in the troubled progress of Tate magazine is the news that, after the departure in June of its editor Robert Violette, and following a troubled summer limbo period of furious speculation, it has now been decided that Condé Nast is to stop publishing the beleaguered mag. As from the new year, and for the first time, it will be published in-house, but with an independent editorial team. So, its ill-fated ambition for an independent life on the newsstands has been cut short and Tate will revert to what it always really has been: a mouthpiece for the gallery. “With the advertising slump and in this climate of economic uncertainty, we have to be honest that [news stand success] was a difficult proposition and not economically viable” admits a Tate representative. “I can’t confirm much right now but we will be appointing an independent editorial team in the autumn, and the plan is to focus more closely on Tate and its membership.” However, since pretty much everyone with even the vaguest whiff of magazine knowledge has already been pumped for advice during Tate’s recent shenanigans, the recruitment process could be a tricky one.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Hauser & Wirth land in London'