One of London's foremost commercial galleries, Modern Art, will open a location in Paris next month. Founded in 1998 by the British dealer Stuart Shave, it currently has two spaces, both in London: one on Helmet Row, near the Barbican Centre, and a smaller gallery in St James’s.
The new Paris space will be located on the second floor of a Hausmann-style building on Place de l'Alma in the city’s eighth arrondissement, close to the Palais de Tokyo, and nearby a number of international galleries with locations in the French capital, including Gagosian, Skarstedt and the soon-to-open Hauser & Wirth. Its inaugural show (16 October-2 December) will feature around 10 artists from the gallery’s 37-strong roster, including Mohammed Sami, Sanya Kantarovsky, Pope. L and Frida Orupabo. The gallery will not be taking part in Paris + by Art Basel (18-22 October), but Shave says it is likely to apply for future editions.
Shave intends to run the Paris gallery “differently” to his London ones, holding just three exhibitions there per-year and being open by appointment only, although this might change in the future, he says. Along with exhibition spaces, the new location also has two viewing rooms that will be used for private clients, and he anticipates “a lot of flexibility” as to how these are used.
The gallerist is adamant that the effects of Brexit have not informed his decision to open across the channel. “Brexit was disheartening, but it has not discernibly affected sales in London. It’s been more of a pain for my registrars than me. The Paris gallery is not trying to circumvent red tape. London is still one of the best cities for contemporary art in the world, and it remains completely central to the gallery’s programme and identity.”
Still, Shave is not immune to the obvious draws of Paris: "I love the city and its energy. It has some of the most ambitious private collectors today. The scale of what François Pinault is doing with the Bourse de Commerce is unmatched in London." He adds that Paris’s proximity to London will allow him to visit the new space easily.
Above all, he says, the choice was led by the wishes of his artists. “Coincidentally, none of the artists on Modern Art’s roster are represented by French galleries, so it’s a great opportunity for me to show them there.” He adds that a Paris space might also allow him to work with artists represented by other London galleries.
Asked whether he has also considered opening a space in the US, he says that a number of Modern Art’s artists are co-represented by American galleries, such as Matthew Marks, Greene Naftali and Luhring Augustine, meaning that there “is no reason” for him to do so.
In London, the gallery has recently renewed a 10-year lease on its Helmet Row space, and is still in the first portion of its Bury Street lease. Shave says he has no intentions to open a third location in the city. In 2020 the gallery closed its two-storey space in east London’s Vyner Street.
"I know it looks like I'm trying to expand, but I'm really not interested in turning Modern Art into a franchise," Shave says. "The Paris space should act as a complement to the London ones. I'm more interested in deepening the ways in which a gallery can represent an artist."