Contents 3 4 10 14 18 20 22 26 32 36 38 40
Introduction What is an art collector? By Matthew Collings Initial Access: The Frank Cohen Collection By Rajesh Punj The WM Art Fund International Collection By David Trigg A museum for the 21st century? By Sheila McGregor West Midlands’ museum collections Artists to watch from the West Midlands By Matt Price The work of Idris Khan By Marina Cashdan George Shaw’s paintings of Coventry By Colin Perry Guide to contemporary art fairs Frieze: Celebrating the UK’s coolest art fair By Colin Perry Corporate collections of contemporary art By Jane Neal
Editor: Matt Price Associate Editor: Nicola Shipley Sub-editor: William Lambie Editorial Assistants: Charlie Levine and Katja Ogrin Design: Matt Price, David O’Coy and Kerry Thomas; Dom Murphy (cover) Produced by: Fused on behalf of Arts & Business Printed by: Stephens and George Cover image: Gillian Wearing, Lily Cole, 2009 (detail). C-Type print, 61 x 48 cm. Edition of 175. Signed, dated and numbered by the artist on the reverse. Courtesy the artist, Counter Editions and Maureen Paley, London. Available from Counter Editions (www.countereditions.com)
44 50 52 56 60 62 64 68 70 72 74
Visual: Great art is great business By Nadia Dooner Own Art: Live with the art you love By Helen Bonar The paintings of Hurvin Anderson By Michele Robecchi An interview with gallerist David Risley By Coline Milliard An insight into four private collections The Witching Hour By Matt Price The work of Gillian Wearing By David Osbaldestin Contemporary Art Society – 100 not out By Rebecca Morrill The Collective By Jenine McGaughran Grand Union and Birmingham’s art scene By Charlie Levine Directory of contemporary art venues
Published in 2010 A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library ISBN: 978-0-9565380-6-2 © Arts & Business Nutmeg House 60 Gainsford Street Butler’s Wharf London, SE1 2NY The majority of content featured in this publication has been written by external contributors. The views expressed are theirs and unless speciﬁcally stated are not necessarily those of Arts & Business. Arts & Business does not endorse third party organisations listed or advertised in this publication or the content of any third party publications referenced. Arts & Business does not take responsibility for the accuracy or any of the data featured in this publication. Arts & Business Limited is a charity registered in England & Wales (274040) and in Scotland (SC039470) and a registered company limited by guarantee (England 1317772). It trades through Arts & Business Services Limited, a registered company limited by shares (England 4027285). VAT number 629018442. Online edition: http://issuu.com/fusedmagazine/docs/artoﬁdeas
Art of Ideas
A magazine about collecting, collections and collectors Introduction
WELCOME TO THIS SPECIAL, ONE-OFF MAGAZINE PUBLICATION DEVOTED TO THE TOPIC OF COLLECTING CONTEMPORARY ART, PRODUCED AS PART OF ART OF IDEAS, an initiative hosted by Matthew Collings, instigated by Arts Council England West Midlands and managed by Arts & Business that aims to promote art market growth in Birmingham and the region. Arts & Business is an agency that sparks new partnerships between commerce and culture, connecting individuals and companies to cultural organisations and providing the expertise and insight for them to prosper. Whether you are new to collecting contemporary art, an occasional buyer, a regular collector or a veteran art-world aficionado, we hope you will find the diverse articles, features, interviews, guides and information contained in the publication of interest and use. London is recognised as one of the world’s main centres for those who collect and trade in contemporary art, and yet in the English regions there are surprisingly few collectors or internationally respected commercial galleries. Following research into regional art markets commissioned by the Arts Council, published in reports and publications including Taste Buds, Market Matters and Turning Point, Arts Council England West Midlands commissioned its own report on the art economy in Birmingham and the region, entitled Sowing the Seeds, with a follow-up brochure called Cultivate, which has been reprinted especially for Art of Ideas alongside the publication. The Art of Ideas publication is one of the first outcomes of this research in the West Midlands, and in a region that today can boast a remarkable number of galleries, museums, organisations and agencies developing and showing high quality exhibitions of contemporary art alongside an ambitious, lively and industrious art community, it’s the perfect time to become more involved in collecting art. We are no longer merely viewers, we are now also collectors and patrons who can take an active role in sustaining, developing, shaping and benefiting from Birmingham and the region’s contemporary art markets.
While only the tip of the iceberg, the publication attempts to cover as many aspects of contemporary art collecting as possible, from public museum collections to commercial galleries, corporate collections to art fairs, small domestic collections to major private collections. So whether you have limited disposable income or are struggling to spend it quickly enough, whether you’re interested in acquiring the work of recent graduates or internationally established artists, thinking of buying something special for the living room, developing a specialist collection in themes or mediums of your choice, setting up a dynamic collection at your place of work, or getting fully immersed in the international art world, there will hopefully be something to capture your attention. The magazine has been written by leading lights from the West Midlands and nationally and internationally renowned art critics for magazines such as Frieze, Modern Painters, Art Review, Flash Art, Art in America, Art Monthly and A-n as well as a variety of arts professionals including curators, institutional directors, magazine editors and art collection consultants. The magazine has been edited by Birmingham and London-based writer, editor and curator Matt Price, former managing editor of Flash Art, Milan, and deputy editor of Art Review, London. In addition to the publication, Art of Ideas proudly presents The Witching Hour, an exhibition curated by Matthew Collings and Matt Price at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s Waterhall that explores darkness and the uncanny in the works of artists from or based in the West Midlands – the majority of which are for sale. Art of Ideas also presents a substantial programme of events, talks and workshops relating to public, corporate, private and domestic collecting of contemporary art, in association with partners including Ikon Gallery, the New Art Gallery Walsall, the Midlands Arts Centre, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, and Grand Union. Art of Ideas runs from 11-14 November 2010. We hope that the publication inspires more people to collect art in the region and serves to generate more interest further afield in the exciting art that’s produced and shown here.
The Art of Ideas team Gavin Buckley, Nadia Dooner, Nicola Shipley, Matt Price, Katja Ogrin, Peter Collins
What is an art collector?
Matthew Collings answers questions from a typical person on the street
MATTHEW COLLINGS So what’s up? PERSON ON THE STREET I’m thinking of collecting contemporary art. MC: OK, well I can only tell you what I’ve personally experienced. I’m an artist and a writer on art, and I have made many TV programmes about both modern and contemporary art and pre-modern art, so I’ve sometimes been exposed to what goes on behind the scenes – the infrastructure of art culture. But I’ve never studied art collecting as such. POTS: Well, who collects art? MC: Companies, museums, private individuals, councils and charities; there are many different submarkets within the overall market. Collecting goes on at many different art levels and at many different price points, some of which are inclusive in terms of affordability/ability to buy and some not. POTS: Why do they do it? MC: A range of reasons: passion, prestige, decoration, investment and addiction. POTS: Where do they put it? MC: In their homes, companies, public spaces; sometimes they loan it to museums. POTS: What happens to collections? MC: They get passed on or sold or donated. Sometimes they get passed on to the nation. POTS: You said “passion”. What does that mean? MC: The opposite to investment – but they’re only opposites as ideals, if you’re philosophizing. In reality in the world of art collecting they’re usually intertwined rather than separated. I think I can look at this issue by being personal. I’ve sold a lot of my own paintings. Actually I do them with a partner, Emma Biggs; she thinks them up and I execute them. So I should say “our” paintings. POTS: Go on.
MC: Well, we imagine people buy them for the reasons we paint them. They are in fact very formal reasons. We think about relationships of colour, and how to get many little carefully conceived and executed colour-vibration incidents to resolve into an overall beautiful harmony. And we are very passionate in our pursuit of that harmony. We talk about it all the time, we look at other art, we read books, and we translate a lot of other activities, say in politics or social life or whatever, into our ongoing discussion about colour harmony. We think colour is light, light is nature, and nature is all of us, not separate from human existence but the model for it, that kind of thing. And we assume people buy our stuff because they are responding to that passion – a bell rings in their own experience. But in reality, we have no idea why they do it, and it might be for any of the reasons I listed earlier. And I suspect that no artist really knows why anyone buys his or her stuff, and no collector knows why he or she bought it. David Roberts, the property developer, who is a very big collector with a private museum about to open in North London, has three of our paintings, and although we’ve socialized with him a few times, and he’s been to our studio, we don’t know what motivated him to buy them. We know Charles Saatchi a bit. He says things like, “Who knows what motivates anyone!”
I suspect that no artist really knows why anyone buys his or her stuff, and no collector knows why he or she bought it The Rubell family in America, who collect on a Saatchi-like scale, tell us it’s for spiritual reasons. They actually have to feel the artist whose work they are buying is on a spiritual level that they can relate to. You could say that just sounds like voodoo, and really it’s only the same as saying, “Who knows!” like Saatchi, or not saying anything, like David Roberts. “I’m just a shopaholic darling!” was how Pearl Lam, the glamorous Shanghai tycoon who collects on a big scale, justified her obsession to me the other day. And in Abu Dhabi recently I met a princess from Kuwait who said she collected art because it was beautiful and she wanted to support the artists. I think these are all reasonable positions to take. Ultimately, liking art is complicated and when you’ve got a lot of complication going on in a particular matter, that matter is likely to be perceived by many as a mystery.
Jules de Balincourt Collector, Dealer, Artist 2008 Oil and acrylic on panel 25.4 x 21 cm Courtesy the artist and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris
POTS: Have you ever bought anything?
MC: I’ve bought maybe five works of art in my whole life. My partner and I bought one for £4,000, once. It took us years to complete the payments but we never regretted it. It is a lyrical abstract painting by the Scottish artist John McLean, who is now in his 70s. We thought it had a “made” quality about it. It had a wonky asymmetrical balance of colourforms where you could really see those forms coming into place within the overall rectangle of the canvas. Every day it gives us pleasure. We think of it as a space in the house of real aesthetic contemplation, rather than hustle-bustle contemplation. So you could say passion-plus-decoration was our reason for that purchase. Never underrate decoration in art. It’s a very complex quality. It can have all sorts of moral and ethical implications.
MC: Well, you’re looking at art collecting as an idealistic activity. And a lot of different things go into that ideal. I’m going to try and sketch them all out to you, but you’ll have to be patient, and accept a bit of inspired muddle. In the end what I’m looking for is the ideal of being an art collector – the other stuff, all the little intricate details of art funding and art sponsorship and what goes on in different parts of the UK about collecting, all that you can find out by other means. So here goes – why art collecting is good, and the history of it. Obsessive collecting on a big scale, such as we often hear about today, the billionaire super-international level, is about all the things I mentioned before, but the roots of its socialclimbing aspect go back more than a century, I suppose at least to the US robber barons and the interest in art that they were encouraged to develop by certain taste-makers of the time.
POTS: How about addiction, which you also mentioned in your list of reasons why collectors collect? MC: For an art collector addiction is the same as for any substance abuser: you’ve got to look at the underlying causes or origins in order to understand the sickness, and that’s incredibly tricky and mysterious. Art is not a poison but a benefit to society. But mystery still applies. The art critic Clement Greenberg once wrote that avant-garde art is detached from society by virtue of its advanced content, which logically must leave society behind a bit, but at the same time it is also perpetually attached to society by “an umbilical cord of gold” – meaning that such art can’t survive if nobody pays for it. That raises the question: why do they pay for it if it’s so far ahead of them?
Today’s billionaire collectors, including in the Middle East, have inherited the Medicis’ psychic pattern But they continue back even further, of course, to the Renaissance, and the Medici family. That’s where the cliché of nowadays comes from, when we hear a pundit on the radio opine that Saatchi is “a new Medici”. POTS: But I’m just an ordinary person, not a Kuwaiti princess or a Saatchi.
Opposite: Installation view of the exhibition: Damien Roach: Shiiin, Jet Stream, White Earphones at the David Roberts Foundation, London, 2010 Courtesy the artist and Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf Photo © Tomas Rydin (www.tomasrydin.se) Courtesy this is tomorrow (www.thisistomorrow.info)
Matthew Collings and Emma Biggs The Unseen, 2010 Oil on canvas 80 x 80 cm Courtesy the artists
MC: The super-level and the ordinary accessible level are very similar. They both involve mystery and people agreeing to go along with mystery. POTS: How do the Medicis come into it then, and robber barons in the USA?
other more conservative sheikhs to get it too, so they’ll invest, and so luxury tourists passing through the Emirates, wanting to play golf there or sunbathe or watch the horse-racing, will also join in the new sport of art collecting. POTS: But I never will on that level!
MC: Well, I’m looking for a way in – let’s see – I’ve been to the Emirates a few times. Over there you see new museums, a lot of auction house activity, a sudden building-up, almost from zero, of a western-style art scene. It’s about status and identity and wealth-generation. They want the Louvre, the Guggenheim Museum, the lot. But from the point of view of the contemporary art angle, the impetus to have an art scene in the Emirates comes from the rulers of the various sheikhdoms and their children, both generations often educated in the West. The 20-somethings presumably want to impress jetsetting western friends with their sophistication. Their interest isn’t their fathers’ interest - which is to develop tourism - but to seem hip: “We too have conceptual art!”
MC: Maybe not, but the interesting thing is that you are at the level of some of the art-insider sheikhs in terms of knowledge. The ordinary middle-class person on the street in Britain now is incredibly familiar with contemporary art and knowledgeable about it, simply because of its constant exposure in the mass media over the last 20 years. You have a funny sort of relationship to contemporary art, one of alienated familiarity. You’ve got used to a spectacular culture of art in which people both question the hype and buy into it. At the same time it’s a status symbol: “Look at me! I own the thing that’s been hyped that they’re all questioning!”
POTS: Ha ha!
MC: I’m deliberately being cynical for a moment, in order to look at the wider context that frames such things as passion and decoration when you’re an art collector. And the fact is that the art biennales and art museums that are about to start up in the Emirates will be amazing, the most beautiful buildings designed by world-class architects, paid for by enlightened people, and filled with life-enhancing art. Now if you look at history 500 years before the Emirates’ art fairs, you’ve got the Medicis in Florence, also using art for purposes of identitycreation and wealth-generation. They were a banking family who came from humble origins. They gradually became behind-the-scenes rulers of the whole city, and manipulators
MC: The sheikhs know what they want, western art included. But sometimes they are puzzled by what exactly it is and how it works. You can set up contemporary art fairs in Dubai, or wherever, with stands selling art from all over the world. But how does a sheikh whose children haven’t done a curating course at the Royal College tell what it is he’s supposed to be impressed by, when he sees a canvas filled with coloured dots that he is told isn’t even painted by the artist but done by assistants? The sheikhs have got to complete that educational step. Art-insider sheikhs already know it, but they’ve got to get
POTS: I would laugh but it sounds cynical.
John McLean Parade, 1998 Acrylic on canvas, 57 x 112 cm Courtesy the artist. Collection of Matthew Collings and Emma Biggs
of power in other cities. Their art philanthropy was mixed in with all sorts of motivations. Identity, social status, legitimacy and prestige all play a part. POTS: And today? MC: Today’s billionaire collectors, including in the Middle East, have inherited the Medicis’ psychic pattern. It’s not just that in the time of the Medicis money became available to spend on developing great new ideas in art. It is a whole mentality – guilt about “usury” or money-lending, guilt about the production of money without toil (in the Middle Ages you expected to be punished by an eternity of torment in hell for this sin), led to a compensation activity: the production of knowledge and beauty. The art-buying of the great successive heads of the Medici family, Cosimo, Piero, and so on, was the culmination of a historical process whereby city-leaders whose power came from dubious origins wanted to rationalise their exalted status. We call the fallout from the Medicis’ actions, a whole new climate of learning and art, the “Renaissance” – so it’s nothing to be sneezed at. POTS: And what about in the USA, which you also mentioned? MC: Think of that long, high-ceilinged space with neoclassical pillars in Tate Britain that’s called the “Duveen Galleries”, after the figure who paid for them, Lord Duveen, the great coal magnate, émigré to the States from Hull, whose art-collecting activities in the early 20th century established the model for collecting today. America was made wealthy by the actions of the robber barons: monopolists, financiers, industrialists, the owners of steel works, coal works and the railways. The works of art the robber barons amassed, at first for their own egotistical glorification, they eventually gave over to the ordinary public in America. Duveen taught them to behave like that. This is why America is full of great museums of pre-modern art, but it is also the model for the modern and contemporary art museums that exist over there. As part of his ego-gratification a mighty art collector would give over his collection to the ordinary public to enjoy. At the time the model was forged, the great collectors believed in their souls that civic society had a claim on their fortunes. They wanted to give something back.
Human nature, money and art all somehow get together and the result is unquestionably beneficial POTS: That sounds good! MC: Yes, it is a way in which good gets done. Human nature, money and art all somehow get together and the result is unquestionably beneficial: ordinary people are exposed to great cultural achievement. When certain people have found a way to remove themselves from the dimension that almost everyone else is in, of striving every day to put food on the table, then it is possible for their fantasies to become quite grandiose: you want to be not just special but special for eternity. And now here we are in our own time and we know the names Frick, Mellon, Vanderbilt and Rockefeller, because they’re the names of individuals who acquired great collections of art – presumably to make some of them feel more like aristocrats. And then they gave those collections over to the public. Ordinary people could feel better from exposure to art, just as the millionaires had done. So the formula works – those fantasies are not so bad!
Matthew Collings is an artist and art writer based in London and Norfolk. His collaborative paintings (with partner Emma Biggs) are exhibited regularly at the Fine Art Society in Bond Street, London. His books include Blimey, This is Modern Art, Art Crazy Nation, and This is Civilisation. He writes regular columns for specialist art magazines, Modern Painters and Art Review, as well as occasional features for newspapers such as the Observer, the Daily Telegraph, the Times and the Guardian. He has written and presented many television series on art for Channel 4 and the BBC, including the multi-award winning This is Modern Art, as well as Matt’s Old Masters, Impressionism: Revenge of the Nice, This is Civilisation and What Is Beauty? His latest series, on Renaissance painting, is aired on BBC2 this autumn.
Initial Access: The Frank Cohen Collection
A world-class private collection in the West Midlands
FROM PERUSING THE WEEKEND PAPERS, GOING THROUGH THE CULTURE SUPPLEMENTS AND GLOSSIES, it is clear that collecting art has become an almost compulsory pursuit for those who have achieved success in business. The consumption of art has spread among the wealthy and well-to-do, men and women of taste and education, like an addiction to originality. Among them, Frank Cohen is considered one of the leading collectors of contemporary works in the UK. And fortunately for the West Midlands, temporary exhibitions of works from his extensive collection are on show at Initial Access, his sizeable gallery spaces on the outskirts of Wolverhampton.
works from these emerging super-powers for some time now. Cohen’s status in the art world has been increasing for his research into, and intuition about, emerging artists in distant lands as well as closer to home. Speaking of his choices, he asserts that he acquires works that he likes, and these form the basis of his exhibitions. There’s something refreshingly honest and straightforward about such simplicity in terms of his collecting strategy. The first major work he acquired was a small piece by L. S. Lowry that he bought for next to nothing and exchanged for another work only to find it had recently sold for more than a million pounds. Frank smiles. That’s just the way the dice roll sometimes.
An extraordinary character, Frank Cohen is a self-made man who made his fortune in the DIY industry in the north of England. He has grown into a leading figure for contemporary art collecting, and is almost certainly the most prominent and active outside London. Animated by enthusiasm for his collection, Cohen has turned his hobby into a full-time undertaking, rooting out some of the best works of art on the market for his collection. Cohen is incredibly forthcoming when discussing his collection – it’s clearly something he’s truly passionate about. On meeting Frank at his most recent group show of works by some of the leading anti-social artists of our time, Attitude, he removes his spectacles to rub them vigorously before returning them to the bridge of his nose and then breaks into a hearty appeal for sandwiches and more light before viewing a vast canvas by German artist Dirk Skreber. Startlingly strong, these grandiose canvases appear alongside other significant works by artists Gerald Davis and Banks Violette among others. Curated by David Thorp, this most recent exhibition of works from his collection proves hugely engaging and a vindication of Cohen’s ability to acquire works of international renown. While audience figures at Initial Access are respectable, you can’t help but feel that exhibitions of this quality deserve a much larger audience.
On the success of his Glyn Webb Home Improvement Stores across the north of England and the subsequent sale of the business, Cohen quickly acquired an interest in modern British works, Edward Burra, William Roberts and Stanley Spencer among them. It seemed a natural place to begin for a man finding his way around the art market. Modern British works led to contemporary British art, manifested in Cohen’s interest in the emerging YBA generation of the early 90s. At the time, modern British art was becoming more and more popular with collectors so it was almost obligatory for him to look for something else, something new and promising, right on the edge of the art scene.
With contemporary artworks from China, India and Japan, Cohen’s ambition for collecting is clearly global in its reach, and demonstrates an interest as much in the new markets for art as in more established ones. The recent emphasis on works by artists living and working in these and other countries also reveals Cohen’s curiosity for everything other, as was recently demonstrated in the form of an exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery in February 2010 entitled Facing East. Cohen has quietly and effectively been collecting seminal
Curiosity has turned Cohen into a well-versed acquisitions man with a great nose for what’s new Veering away from the establishment and wrestling with the uncertainties of a new generation of artists fresh out of college, it appeared that Cohen was taking his first big gamble – one that paid off. And it was here, with the rise of the YBAs, among the warehouse exhibitions and dilapidated studio spaces, that Cohen was educating himself about the contemporary art scene and becoming more familiar with the work that was about to lead the way for seismic changes in the complexion of British art going forward. Cohen’s interest in British work has been added to over the past six years by his rather astute and more expansive look further afield, like Saatchi, to America and Europe for artists who are still in the process of establishing themselves. Following this, he began
Banks Violette, Untitled (Church), 2005 Bonded salt, salt, polyurethane, polymer medium, ash, epoxy, wood, galvanized steel, steel hardware 366 x 488 x 732 cm. Photo © Peter Mallet Courtesy of Initial Access, the Frank Cohen Collection
to pay equal attention to artists in Asia, China, Japan and India, where he proudly asserts that he was among the first to purposely buy works from artists and galleries that were still emerging on the international art scene. Curiosity has turned Cohen into a well-versed acquisitions man with a great nose for what’s new, interesting, different and significant. For the Facing East exhibition in Manchester, Cohen exhibited a reclining elephant covered in silver bindis by Bharti Kher, huge fibreglass heads by Ravinder Reddy, an installation by celebrated Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara and a vast icecream coloured canvas of mocking faces by Yue Minjun. Cohen’s assorted collection of works was conceived to reflect the eastern promise of the swelling Asian art scene. As Frank explains, “The reason for selecting these specific works for the exhibition was that despite their diverse cultural backgrounds, the artists represented in Facing East are connected by common subject matters including youth culture, popular culture and the mass media as means to express significant conditions in their unique cultures. The works on display shared a similar dynamism in response to the global nature
of consumerism and the huge changes that are taking place in modern Asian cultures.” Returning to Manchester, his city of birth, Cohen was thrilled to have the opportunity to present the works to a northern audience. From his exhibition spaces in Wolverhampton, Cohen has with little fuss or fanfare already shown significant works and brought many of the artists who made them to the region. Opening in January 2007 with works by Dexter Dalwood, Tobias Rehberger, Zaha Hadid and Thomas Scheibitz, Cohen hit the ground running. Design for Living was quickly followed by a group show of contemporary Chinese artists who were included among more familiar names from Europe and America. Entitled Time Difference, the exhibition was a reflection of the new zeitgeist among his contemporaries for works from China. That same year, with the show Unholy Truths opening in September 2007, Cohen exhibited works from India, China, Europe and America, including pieces by Sudarshan Shetty and Tallur L.N. shown together with Jake and Dinos Chapman.
Significant highlights in the program since have been the Passage to India exhibitions in March 2008 and March 2009, that presented contemporary works from India when works from the Indian sub-continent by little known artists were beginning to go for vast sums of money. Cohen showed them almost immediately when they might otherwise have only seen the light of day in commercial galleries or auction rooms in London and New York, claiming “with India it’s the nearest to world-class contemporary art like America. It has the guts, the visual freedom,” adding, “I don’t think it’s a flash in the pan.” In his 60s and full of energy and enthusiasm, Cohen has no intention of slowing down or easing up. For him, collecting art is a passion and one that he is keen to share with as many people as possible. For the West Midlands, having professionally curated exhibitions of significant works by many leading artists from around the world is an incredible resource of which the region can be proud. www.initialaccess.co.uk
Opposite: Bharti Kher The Skin Speaks a Language Not Its Own, 2006 Bindis on fiberglass 152.4 x 457.2 x 182.9 cm Photo © Peter Mallet Courtesy of Initial Access, the Frank Cohen Collection
Rajesh Punj is is a freelance art writer, curator and contemporary art collector based in London with a specialist interest in India and the Middle East. With an academic background in art history and contemporary curating he has plans for a Middle East show in London 2010 and has recently written for Saatchi Gallery, Flash Art International and ArtAsiaPacific among others, whilst contributing regularly to Asian Art Newspaper as a contemporary art correspondent and is proprietor of ART ATT which will be exhibiting at the Affordable Art Fair in October 2010.
Design for Living Exhibition view. Photo © Peter Mallet Courtesy of Initial Access, the Frank Cohen Collection
What to buy with a million pounds?
The West Midlands Art Fund International Collection
HOW MUCH INTERNATIONAL CONTEMPORARY ART CAN YOU BUY FOR £1 MILLION? That’s the enviable challenge currently facing a consortium of West Midlands galleries, who have been awarded a coveted Art Fund International (AFI) grant to create a major new public collection for the region. Operating as the West Midlands Consortium, the three galleries – Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Ikon and the New Art Gallery Walsall – have already started building what’s shaping up to be a dynamic and exciting collection of new art from around the world. Launched in 2007 by the Art Fund – an independent charity committed to supporting the nation’s public art collections – the AFI scheme is a £5 million funding initiative aimed at encouraging UK museums and galleries to focus on building first-class collections of international contemporary art. One of the principles underpinning the scheme is that collecting institutions partner with independent galleries in order to benefit from their expertise in the field. As one of the most internationally respected independent galleries in England, and the leading venue of its kind in the West Midlands, Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery was seen by many as an ideal partner. “When the AFI was launched, places like us were being contacted by all kinds of people,” recalls Jonathan Watkins, Director of Ikon. “We suddenly found ourselves being highly desirable.”
“Our theme is The Metropolis: reflections of modern urban life” One of those eager to speak with Watkins was Stephen Snoddy, Director of the New Art Gallery Walsall – an institution that, unlike Ikon, has several collections and regularly purchases contemporary art. “Very quickly we realised the significance of the scheme and got talking to Ikon,” explains Snoddy. “It soon became clear that Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery were also involved. So we decided that, unusually, the three organisations would work together.” Another requirement was that each consortium should have a theme for their proposed collection. “Our theme is The Metropolis: reflections of modern urban life,” says Snoddy. “We’re in a metropolis ourselves – at the heart and birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. Artists are also beginning to move from one city to another; you might have an artist who’s born in Japan and
Zhang Enli, Apartment 3, 2008 Oil on canvas, 300 x 240 cm Courtesy ShanghART Presented by the Art Fund under Art Fund International
moves to New York but actually ends up working in Paris. So the Metropolis theme really pertains to our own circumstances but also gives us flexibility in what we can purchase.” The Consortium’s proposal clearly impressed the Art Fund, who selected it as one of five winning bids from a total of 29 (other successful bids came from Glasgow, Bristol, Middlesbrough and Eastbourne). David Barrie, director of The Art Fund, said, “We were stunned by the amazing response to the initiative, particularly by the enthusiasm and ideas generated by the consortia. Now comes the exciting task of acquiring and commissioning work to make their ideas a reality.” But before any purchases could be made, a consensus had to be reached. “The first year of the scheme was spent in research,
Ola Kolehmainen, Shadow of Church, 2006 Analogue c-print on diasec, 202 x 254 cm (total width 511 cm) Courtesy the artist. Presented by the Art Fund under Art Fund International
pooling ideas and drawing up a long list of artists we thought might be of interest,” explains Brendan Flynn, Curator of Fine Art at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. “This list is continually evolving as our acquisitions proceed and as our research continues.” Regular meetings were set up where the proposed acquisitions could be discussed, debated and argued over. “The meetings are attended by many people. We all put things on the table and there’s a fairly balanced to and fro,” says Watkins. “Generally a consensus arises out of the conversation.” One of the artists everyone first agreed on was Christiane Baumgartner, whose striking woodcut, ‘Asphalt I + II’ (2006), was one of the first purchases to be made. The monochromatic diptych depicts two images of a road constructed from hundreds of swelling and tapering horizontal lines. The imagery is derived from one of the German artist’s own videos, taken during a road trip between Leipzig and the Baltic coast. The autobahn features regularly in Baumgartner’s art, connoting freedom and liberation; for her, a former East German, trips like this would have been unthinkable under the Communist regime. Individual frames were selected and transferred onto a computer, where they were enlarged and manipulated. Then, after being transferred onto wooden boards, they were painstakingly carved and hand printed. Baumgartner’s technique is impeccable, though venture too close and the prints’ surfaces dissolve into a mass of inky lines; step back and they coalesce once more into recognizable images. Another early purchase was Miao Xiaochun’s disorienting photograph ‘Orbit’ (2005). Xiaochun has been documenting the dramatic urban transformation of China since the late 1990s, but his recent works have come with a digital twist. For ‘Orbit’, Xiaochun drew inspiration from the work of Zhang Zeduan, a famous 12th century Chinese painter. In Zeduan’s celebrated scroll, ‘The Spring Festival Along the River’, the
artist uses a “scattered perspective” technique – the antithesis of traditional single-point perspective that we in the West have been so familiar with since the Renaissance. Taking a photograph of Beijing’s exuberant street life, Xiaochun used digital manipulation to alter its perspective so that objects in the distance become the same size as those in the foreground. The resulting composition is curiously disconcerting yet highly engaging. Also concerned with the contemporary Chinese urban context is Zhang Enli, who, like Christiane Baumgartner and several other artists in the collection, had his first UK solo exhibition at Ikon. Enli paints eloquent meditations on the theme of the human condition, reflecting his experiences of moving from a provincial town to the sprawling metropolis of Shanghai. His paintings often depict simple everyday scenes and domestic objects with which we can all identify, such as a bucket, a bottle or a box. In ‘Apartment 3’ (2008) he presents a detail of a high-rise building in Shanghai. The unsettling perspective resulting from its elevated viewpoint is typical of Enli’s works, which often evoke an air of apprehension. Buildings also appear in Ola Kolehmainen’s work. Hailing from Finland, Kolehmainen is an acclaimed member of the Helsinki School of photographers and well known for his architectural images. Birmingham itself is the focus of his monumental diptych ‘Shadow of Church’ (2006), which shows an abstracted detail of the Bullring shopping centre. Focussing on the distinctive façade of the Selfridges building, a subtle shadow cast by the neighbouring St Martin’s Church draws a contrast between old and new architecture while speaking of the city’s religious and commercial spheres that for hundreds of years have evolved side by side. In order to build a cohesive and well-rounded collection, the Consortium have decided to try and purchase more than just
Christiane Baumgartner, Asphalt l & ll, 2006 Diptych of woodcuts on kozo paper, 110 x 140 cm (each) Edition of 6. Courtesy Christiane Baumgartner and Alan Cristea Gallery, London Presented by The Art Fund under Art Fund International
single works by each artist. As Stephen Snoddy explains, “We’re looking at building a collection that’ll have roughly between 40 and 50 works, so we’ve decided to cut down on the number of artists we’re buying and buy more works by the artists we’ve already chosen. That way we’ll have a collection that’s more in-depth and that makes more sense. Many artists are working across different media so in some cases we’re hoping to buy three, four, maybe five works by an individual artist.” However, in the case of Mohammed Bourouissa, ten photographs from his ‘Périphéries’ series (2005–9) have already been bought, while a total of eighteen images from Dayanita Singh’s ‘Dream Villa’ series (2008) were recently added to the collection. Singh is one of India’s most celebrated photographers. Her ‘Dream Villa’ series comprises photographs of ordinary spaces at night, often combining natural and artificial lighting. Everyday landscapes and city views become infused with mysterious, even unsettling narratives. One of the stand-out images from the series is ‘Dream Villa 11’ (2008), which shows a stunning aerial shot of an Indian city at night. A golden glow of rushing traffic shines out from this cold blue metropolis, like blood flowing through veins.
Clichy-sous-Bois, Bourouissa’s ‘Périphéries’ series is named after the Boulevard Périphérique, a ring-road surrounding Paris, whose presence is the cause of much social division, both physically and metaphorically.
“The AFI grant has been a real boon to the West Midlands”
These are just some of the high-calibre works already in the collection and many more have been or will be submitted to the Art Fund for approval. The AFI grant has been a real boon to the West Midlands, particularly for Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, whose collecting policy up to now has focussed primarily on British art, leading to a rather introverted view of contemporary practice. For now, the new collection will be shared and stored between Walsall and Birmingham, but, as discussed during last year’s Art of Ideas, plans are afoot regarding a major new museum of contemporary art for Birmingham, which could provide an ideal home for it. Indeed, this major new museum was very much in view from the start: “In drawing up the AFI proposal in 2007 it was made clear that if a new museum gets up and running in Birmingham, this would be a catalyst collection for it,” confirms Snoddy. The project is currently undergoing a feasibility study, but even if it is given the green light, its doors wouldn’t be opening for quite some time; “It took Nick Serota ten years to get Tate Modern up and running,” Snoddy reminds us. “The feasibility study is coming on nicely, but there’s a hell of a lot of work to be done before people see it as a reality.”
Less spectacular, but no less compelling, are the works of Algerian-born Mohammed Bourouissa, one of France’s leading young photographers. Bourouissa explores the social and economic issues surrounding the marginalized, largely immigrant communities living in the French banlieues (city suburbs). His images appear like casual snapshots but are in fact carefully staged scenes, many of which refer to art history. For instance in ‘La République’ (2006) he restages Eugène Delacroix’s famous painting commemorating the July Revolution, ‘Liberty Leading the People’ (1830). Beginning in 2005, during the aftermath of the Parisian riots in the suburb of
However, if the AFI collection is eventually assimilated by the museum for the 21st century, where does that leave Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s collection? Thankfully, their involvement with the AFI has been the catalyst for a reassessment of their collection policy, and, as Brendan Flynn explained, international contemporary art will now be a “prominent aspect” of their policies. While this is all very encouraging, these are uncertain economic times and, in the face of increased Government cuts, public funds remain limited at best, leaving the ability of UK museums to collect under serious threat. Before the AFI, another funding scheme that boosted the collections of Walsall and Birmingham was
the Contemporary Art Society’s Special Collection scheme, which ran between 1998 and 2004, providing fifteen institutions around the UK with £30,000 a year over a five year period. But as good as schemes such as these are, they are finite, and despite the best efforts of museum directors such as Snoddy – who in 2005, after the Special Collection scheme had ended, reintroduced Walsall’s modest acquisitions budget – the challenge of building strong regional collections of contemporary art continues to be an uphill struggle. If the West Midlands is to achieve such collections there must be sustained sources of funding. Increased sponsorship, philanthropy and benefaction from the public, private and corporate sectors are all very necessary if Birmingham and the West Midlands are to position themselves on an international stage as has been proposed. But at least for now we can celebrate the wonderful bounty of international artworks that have been acquired for the region that will no doubt provide a lasting legacy for future generations to enjoy and a strong foundation for the creation of further exemplary collections. www.thenewartgallerywalsall.org.uk www.bmag.org.uk www.ikon-gallery.co.uk
Selections from the new AFI collection will be displayed this autumn at the New Art Gallery Walsall in Metropolis (1 October 2010 – 4 January 2011) and also at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in New Art Now (13 November 2010 - 13 February 2011).
David Trigg is an art writer based in Bristol. He is a member of the International Association of Art Critics and a regular contributor to Art Monthly, a-n, MAP, Art Papers and frieze.com. His writing has also been featured in Art Review, Untitled, Circa, and Flash Art. David graduated from Bath School of Art and Design in 2001 and has since worked as Reviews Editor for Bristol arts publication Decode, as well as holding positions at the Arnolfini Gallery and the University of Bristol.
Miao Xiaochun, Orbit, 2005 Digital print, 216 x 480 cm Courtesy Alexander Ochs Galleries, Berlin | Beijing Presented by the Art Fund under Art Fund International
A museum for the 21st century?
Plans for a major new institution in Birmingham
Dayanita Singh, Dream Villa 11, 2007, 2008 C-type print, 46 x 46 cm. Edition of 7 Courtesy the artist and Frith Street Gallery, London Presented by the Art Fund under Art Fund International
BIRMINGHAM MAY HAVE LOST OUT TO DERRY IN ITS BID TO BECOME THE FIRST UK CITY OF CULTURE IN 2013, but ambitious plans for a new museum of the 21st century are still in the pipeline. Undaunted by the economic climate, Jonathan Watkins, the Director of Ikon Gallery, is confident about the long-term prospects for a new gallery for contemporary art, convinced that the idea is slowly gathering support and will find its moment when the time is right. By Sheila McGregor. 18
The site for Ikon 2 (as the new project is now known) will be a sizeable urban park, designed to create an oasis of space, greenery and water in the close-knit urban fabric of Birmingham city centre. Alongside the existing Ikon Gallery and Ikon 2, it is proposed that there be a museum of photography dedicated to the remarkable photographic holdings of the city’s Central Library. And of course, the scheme will also include the shops, bars and restaurants necessary to any serious attempt at urban renewal. Sceptics have argued that in these economically challenging times it would make better sense to invest in the existing infrastructure, for example by re-visioning Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and renewing its physical fabric. There are also questions about what Ikon 2 will house. Where are the collections to compare with, say, Stuttgart, Eindhoven or Bordeaux, all places with a significant history of international collecting backed up by an ambitious municipality or regional government? In the UK, by contrast, collections have largely been neglected. Instead, we have poured money into temporary exhibitions and educational activities with little thought to what would be left behind when the money ran out. The idea of archiving the present for the benefit of future generations has had limited purchase in a climate governed by short-term calculations about getting people through the door. Despite 15 years of lottery investment, the UK still lags a long way behind other European countries in its support for new and recent art – the result, perhaps, of a political culture, media discourse and education system which value the past more than the present. We love the National Trust and admire the achievements of the Heritage Lottery Fund, but we are equivocal about or downright hostile to contemporary art. On a visit to Essen in Germany three years ago, I was astounded to discover that plans were afoot to demolish an unsatisfactory extension added to the Museum Folkwang as recently as the 1980s and to replace it with a new wing designed by the British architect David Chipperfield. With impressive synchronicity, the new extension finally opened in January 2010, just in time to inaugurate Essen and the Ruhr Area’s year as European Capital of Culture. Admittedly it was an act of astonishing philanthropic largesse by the Krupp-Stiftung charitable foundation that enabled this to happen, the city authorities having been understandably reluctant to replace a building not much more than 20 years old. But once the funding was in place, there was no prevarication. It is hard to imagine a similar scenario ever arising in this country: no local authority would ever contemplate demolishing a building of such recent construction and there would certainly be no philanthropist waiting in the wings to fund a museum anywhere north of the M25. In 13 years of cultural investment, the previous Labour government achieved a great deal. But one of its greatest shortcomings, little commented on in the media, was its failure to significantly increase the funding base and power of local government.
Watkins, however, exudes a quiet optimism about the plans for Ikon 2. Although still only at the feasibility stage, the proposal has attracted high-profile support, including from the governing Lib/Con coalition on the City Council and from Tate Director Nicholas Serota. In her capacity as Chair of Arts Council England, Liz Forgan has also endorsed the idea. “It is truly ambitious,” she acknowledged in a speech at Ikon’s annual dinner in 2009. “People may say that it’s not an auspicious time to raise funds for such an ambitious project. But I say ambition is good!” Birmingham, says Watkins, has shown a genuine commitment to its arts organisations by providing respectable levels of subsidy and an atmosphere in which collaboration can flourish. Unusually for a big city, cultural institutions actually talk to each other and work together, demonstrating an esprit de corps that augurs well for Ikon 2. The proposal itself may still be in the research and development stage, but the process of building a collection is already well underway. A three-way partnership between Ikon, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the New Art Gallery Walsall, funded by The Art Fund, has enabled the acquisition of work by the likes of Dayanita Singh, Christiane Baumgartner, Zhang Enli and Grazia Toderi. The focus for these acquisitions, appropriately enough, is “urban life”, a theme chosen to reflect and respond to the diverse and dynamic demographic of the West Midlands conurbation. The spirit of internationalism will inform all aspects of the gallery’s programme, which will include displays and exhibitions in a new 10,000m2 space, lectures, symposia, publications, educational activities and a rich variety of online projects and resources. By combining excellence, innovation and accessibility, the new gallery will embody the ideals that inspired Ikon’s founding artists in the 1960s. As it happens, a recent exhibition at Ikon looked back at the gallery’s own early history in the 1970s, when it occupied a shop unit in the West Court of the Birmingham Shopping Centre (now Pallasades) under the stewardship of the artist Simon Chapman. Who would have thought then that this small artist-led initiative would eventually become one of the UK’s pre-eminent galleries of contemporary art, with a programme distinguished by its international scope and strong sense of local ownership? It is early days yet for Ikon 2. But taking the long view, Watkins is confident that his ideas will one day come to fruition. It happened once before after all. And history, as we all know, has a way of repeating itself.
Sheila McGregor has worked in the visual arts for more than 25 years and is currently the chief executive of Axis, an influential online platform for contemporary artists in the UK (www.axisweb.org). She is keenly interested in the history and future development of public collections, having pursued an active collecting policy in her previous roles as a curator at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (1989-96) and Deputy Director of the New Art Gallery Walsall (1996-2001). She is the main author of the book New Art on View (2006), which documents the many hundreds of works acquired for public collections through the Contemporary Art Society’s Special Collection Scheme.
Behind the scenes at the museum
A Guide to the West Midlands’ museum art collections
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
New Art Gallery Walsall
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is known for its world-famous historical and Pre-Raphaelite collection, although it is their contemporary art collections that have been developing rapidly over the last decade. The gallery was one of the 15 major collections in the UK to participate in the Contemporary Art Society’s Special Collection Scheme, which represented the largest single injection of funding for acquisitions in the history of the museum service. This Lottery-funded initiative was supported by the equally ambitious commitment of the city council to mark the Millennium by the purchase of ten major modern and contemporary works by British artists. The collection now includes works by Sean Scully, RB Kitaj, Ian McKeever, Fiona Rae and many others. Building on this success, BMAG, in partnership with the New Art Gallery Walsall and Ikon Gallery, was chosen to participate in the Art Fund International scheme. This £1m bursary is specifically devoted to purchasing contemporary art by international artists from India, China, Latin America, Africa and Europe, adding a truly global dimension to the city and region’s collections.
The New Art Gallery Walsall is perhaps most famous for its remarkable Garman Ryan Collection; however, they have been seriously collecting contemporary art since 1982. The last 20 years specifically have seen considerable activity in this area of collecting. In 1997 the gallery became part of the Contemporary Art Society’s Special Collection Scheme funded through the Lottery, enabling the gallery to collect 22 art works that expand on the notion of what might constitute sculpture. Artists include major figures working today such as Martin Creed, Mike Nelson, Gavin Turk and Yinka Shonibare. In 2007 Walsall became part of the Art Fund International scheme to collect artworks by international artists on the theme of “Metropolis”. This five-year project is a partnership with Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery and Ikon Gallery. All of the works purchased are owned jointly, tripling their potential exposure and loaning capabilities. Specific art works collected so far include a double video projection by Italian artist Gracia Toderi, ‘Orbite Rosse (Red Orbits)’ from 2009 and 18 works from the ‘Dream Villa’ series from 2008 by the Indian photographer Dayanita Singh.
The Art Collection of the University of Warwick is found not in the Mead Gallery itself but installed over the entire campus. This was the vision of its founding architect, Eugene Rosenberg. Within the modernist buildings, he installed large colourful abstract paintings by artists such as Jack Bush and Patrick Heron, while in the quadrangles and gardens he sited sculptures by Bernard Schottlander and William Pye. Over the last 50 years, the collection has continued to grow, with the emphasis on the acquisition of works by younger artists. Supported by the Lottery and the Contemporary Art Society, the University commissions works of art for particular spaces. By continuing to integrate art into the campus in this way, Rosenberg’s original vision has been given new interest and meaning in the 21st century. The Mead Gallery presents an impressive programme of temporary exhibitions of art, including many contemporary shows. This winter sees exhibitions devoted to the enigmatic contemporary artist Lindsay Seers (a work by whom was recently acquired by CAS for Rugby Art Gallery) and the 18th century Italian artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi.
Herbert Art Gallery and Museum
Wolverhampton Art Gallery
Rugby Art Gallery and Museum
The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry is named after Sir Alfred Herbert, a local industrialist who, in 1938, donated £100,000 to the City of Coventry to pay for the construction of an art gallery and museum. The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum was declared open in March 1960, and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The venue has recently undergone a £20 million redevelopment, resulting in excellent new facilities for the 21st century. In summer 2010 the Herbert presented an exhibition entitled From Here to There which explored themes of journeys, transitions and transformations through the work of acclaimed contemporary artists taken from their collection, including Tracey Emin, Julian Opie and Gilbert & George. The visual arts collection contains over 5,200 items.
Wolverhampton Art Gallery owns a varied public collection, some highlights of which include the internationally acclaimed Pop Art collection featuring works by Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Richard Hamilton and Sir Peter Blake. From 2000-2005 Wolverhampton Art Gallery took part in the Contemporary Art Society’s Special Collection Scheme, funded by the Arts Council and Lottery. Through this the gallery acquired works by artists including Breda Beban, Richard Billingham, Zineb Sedira, Chad McCail, Cornford & Cross, and Rut Blees Luxemburg. An exhibition this autumn, entitled Journey Into the Contemporary Collection, features works by artists including Lisa Milroy, Jeremy Deller and Tom Hunter. The gallery curates a programme of temporary exhibitions in its £6.3 million building extension, which was completed in 2007.
Spring 2000 saw the opening of the stunning new Rugby Art Gallery and Museum, home to the Rugby Collection of 20th century and contemporary British art. Established in 1946, the collection now holds more than 170 pieces of work, including paintings, drawings, prints and video works. The collection includes work by important artists of the 20th century such as Barbara Hepworth, Percy Wyndham Lewis, L.S. Lowry, Paula Rego, Stanley Spencer and Bridget Riley. Rugby also boasts a good contemporary collection, most recently acquiring works by Paul Richards, Terry Atkinson, Judith Cowan and A.K. Dolven. Although the collection is not on permanent display, every spring selected works are shown, allowing visitors to see new works while the curators research new themes within the collection.
Potteries Museum and Art Gallery
Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum
The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery houses the world’s greatest collection of Staffordshire pottery with over 5,000 pieces of ceramics on show. The museum also has a fine art collection comprising many works and prints by British artists from the early 20th century. A priority today is developing its contemporary art and craft collection. This aspect developed initially through the Contemporary Art Society’s Special Collection Scheme and includes work by Grayson Perry, Mona Hatoum, Anya Gallaccio and Nina Saunders. In 2010 the museum displayed works acquired through the scheme entitled ‘…and a fivelegged donkey’ along with other works from their permanent collection to celebrate the centenary of the Contemporary Art Society.
The Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum at the Royal Pump Rooms has a collection of over 11,000 objects in the fields of art, crafts, sculpture, local and social history, archaeology and ethnography, most of which was donated by local people, beginning in the 1860s and continuing to the present day. The modern collection focuses on British artists with the majority of works dating from the turn of the century to the 1960s, including notable pieces by Stanley Spencer, Paul Nash, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Patrick Caulfield and Bridget Riley. The gallery’s contemporary works include pieces by Terry Atkinson, Marc Quinn, Damien Hirst, Christine Borland, Bill Woodrow and Gillian Wearing, including a number of moving-image works.
The Barber Institute of Fine Arts is located on the University of Birmingham’s Selly Oak campus and is home to works by some of the most important artists spanning several centuries including Monet, Manet, Magritte, Renoir, Rubens, Rossetti, Rodin, Degas, Delacroix and van Dyck – not to mention Poussin, Turner, Gainsborough, Gauguin, van Gogh, Picasso and Hodgkin. The Institute regularly presents temporary exhibitions and has previously dedicated an exhibition to the collections of Midland private art collectors. The exhibition, entitled Behind Closed Doors, presented an intriguing insight into the status of collecting in Birmingham today including contemporary works by artists such as David Hockney, Paula Rego and Cornelia Parker.
Artists to watch from the West Midlands And why it’s good to collect their work
BIRMINGHAM AND THE WEST MIDLANDS ARE POSITIVELY BRIMMING WITH TALENTED AND INNOVATIVE ARTISTS OF ALL KINDS. While there have always been interesting artists in the region, in the last ten years the community has really grown and there is no better time to start buying their works. Knowing where to look and being armed with a bit of background to the art world and its markets can be incredibly useful for those new to collecting or wishing to develop their collections into something more than casual purchases. Naturally, artists from the region are at all different stages of their careers, from recent graduates to very established artists. Checking out BA and MA graduate shows at the region’s many art schools can be a good place to look for affordable works by the artists of tomorrow. Even Charles Saatchi still visits degree shows in person, and regularly purchases works from them. The couple of years after graduating are often crucial to an artist’s career, and recent graduates from the region who have been doing well include Worcester-born Goldsmith’s graduate John Robinson (who recently showed at The Gallery at Bevere in Worcester and in an open submission exhibition at Worcester Museum and Art Gallery) and Ludlow-based painter Katie Sims, who graduated with a BA from Falmouth this summer and was shortlisted for the Channel 4 and Saatchi Gallery New Sensations prize this year. Alongside degree shows, open-submission exhibitions (at public institutions such as Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the Royal Pump Rooms in Leamington Spa and The Herbert in Coventry) artistled galleries, festivals and artist open studios are often good places to find the work of recent graduates and promising artists from the region and beyond. As careers develop, artists go through a complex process referred to variously as validation, endorsement or subscription, which basically is a way of judging how well an artist is doing. The process relies on all sorts of factors, such as how many exhibitions they are having, which galleries their exhibitions are at, what press and critical coverage they receive, whether they have a commercial gallery representing them, how many works they are selling and to whom, which prizes they are awarded and so on. Every artist worth looking at should have all this information available in a CV, on their website or on the website of their representative gallery if they have one. Birmingham and the West Midlands have lots of artists whose CVs are impressive. Birmingham-based Ruth Claxton has just such a CV. Represented by respected gallerist Faye Fleming and Partner in Geneva, she has had a major UK touring exhibition organised by Ikon and Spike Island, a solo show at the Barber Institute, and has participated in many group exhibitions
including the prestigious East International in Norwich and Art Futures at the Bloomberg SPACE in London. Other exciting artists with strong exhibition histories and who show with, or are represented by, rated commercial galleries include Juneau Projects, (represented by Ceri Hand Gallery, Liverpool), Karin Kihlberg and Reuben Henry (who show with Danielle Arnaud, London, and Citric Gallery, Brescia, Italy), and Tessa Farmer (who is represented by Danielle Arnaud, London, and Spencer Brownstone, New York). As artists in their early to mid 30s, they are still broadly considered “emerging artists”, though are increasingly known on the national and international circuit. Knowing which commercial galleries are respected is something that only comes with experience or research, though some great artists show with lesser-known galleries and vice versa! It should also be said that while there is a lot of interest in young emerging artists, artists can and do emerge at any age, depending on all sorts of factors, including the quality of work they are producing at any given time. Artists from the West Midlands who show with senior commercial galleries – long-established and highly respected galleries that show at the major international art fairs, whose artists feature regularly in the art press and general media, who sell works to major public and private collections, and whose artists are selected for solo and group exhibitions at major public galleries and museums – include Turner Prize winner Gillian Wearing, Richard Billingham, George Shaw, Hurvin Anderson, Idris Khan and Roger Hiorns. Wearing is represented by Maureen Paley; Billingham by Anthony Reynolds; Shaw by Wilkinson; Anderson by Thomas Dane; Khan by Victoria Miro; and Roger Hiorns by Corvi-Mora – all of which are major London-based contemporary art galleries. Some artists have more than one gallery to represent them, usually in different countries or continents, with many leading international artists having galleries in the States, the UK, Europe and further afield. While the prices that senior artists and galleries command for works can be far beyond the average domestic buyer, drawings, limited edition prints and multiples by the artists can offer a way to make owning a little piece of their work more affordable.
Competition for representation is fierce, and it is often difficult for artists to find a suitable gallery to take them on Most artists are looking to exhibit with, or be represented by, good commercial galleries, and often start out with smaller
galleries where they build up portfolios, CVs and reputations before being taken on by larger commercial galleries. Sometimes the smaller galleries grow into larger galleries, in tandem with the career progression of their artists. Competition for representation is fierce, and it is often difficult for artists to find a suitable gallery to take them on. Other artists based in the West Midlands showing with commercial galleries include Sally Payen, who had a show at Galleria Gallerati in Rome in summer 2010; Graham Chorlton, who has recently had solo shows at Master Piper, London, and Cross Gallery, Dublin; Pamina Stewart, who shows with Rebecca Hossack gallery, London; and Stephen Earl Rogers, who sells work through Quantum Contemporary Art, London. Some dynamic artists make a name for themselves without having commercial gallery representation, with artists in Birmingham and the West Midlands such as Harminder Singh Judge having a solo touring exhibition at public venues around the UK in 2010, and Stuart Whipps, who in addition to recent significant exhibitions at the New Art Gallery Walsall and Focal Point gallery in Southend-on-Sea, will soon be having an exhibition at Ikon gallery. Another prominent pair of artists are Simon and Tom Bloor, who have recently had exhibitions at Eastside Projects and an off-site project with Ikon. From October 1 to November 21, they will be having a significant solo show at Modern Art Oxford’s new space, The Yard. Exciting and often unrepresented artists can be found at Eastside Projects through their Extra Special People (ESP) initiative, through organisations such as VIVID, Visual and Rhubarb Rhubarb, and at artist-led initiatives such as Grand Union. Emerging artists in the region include Toby de Silva, Liz Rowe, David Miller, Caitlin Griffiths, the Jackson Twins, a.a.s., Kate Pemberton, Jane Anderson, David Rowan, Michelle Lord, Ross Jones and Faye Claridge, among many others.
Buying art from artists based in or from the West Midlands is a fantastic way to support both the region’s cultural life and its economy There are also some notable artists to be found in commercial galleries in the West Midlands, whether the exceptional landscape paintings of Robert Perry available from Number 9 The Gallery in Birmingham, the accomplished figurative paintings of Jon Jones that are on show from time to time at Park View Gallery in Birmingham, the stylish textile works of Helen Cass from Galanthus Gallery in Hereford, the poetic sculptures of Vivienne Sole or Jane Tudge at Applestore Gallery in Hereford, or the haunting paintings of Cameron Galt and striking portraits of Emily Porter-Salmon at Reuben Colley Fine Arts in Birmingham. Buying art from artists based in or from the West Midlands is a fantastic way to support both the region’s cultural life and its economy. It enables artists to make a living from their work and supports their careers, helping their reputations to grow and progress up the ladder. And of course, the more successful their careers, the better news that is for your collection. Collecting works from artists in the West Midlands encourages
more artists to stay in the region – something that in the past has been a problem. This in turn attracts more people and the community grows, strengthens and generates more interest from both within and beyond the region, which leads to more and stronger commercial galleries in the region, and more income circulating within and coming into the region’s economy. Buying art supports businesses in the region from framers to printers, transporters to galleries, not to mention tourism and hospitality, helping to strengthen the economy, particularly at a testing time. And most of all, collecting art is an enjoyable, rewarding and stimulating way of being active within the social and cultural life of Birmingham and the West Midlands.
Images (previous page): Top row: Sally Payen, Forever Run, 2010. Oil on canvas, 30 x 30 cm. Courtesy Galleria Gallerati, Rome. Photo: Jaime Jackson; Juneau Projects, Elk Cloner, 2008. Birch and marine plywood, 100 x 80 cm. Courtesy the artists and Ceri Hand Gallery; Graham Chorlton, Large Blossom Tree, 2008. Acrylic on canvas, 200 x 152 cm. Courtesy the artist and Cross Gallery, Dublin. Photo: Stuart Whipps. Second row: Simon and Tom Bloor, David tries several arrangements before he finds the one he likes, 2008. Graphite on paper. Courtesy the artists; Tessa Farmer, The Insectary (detail), 2007. Roe deer skull, piranha jawbone, pipistrelle bat, wasp nest section, insects, plant roots. Dimensions variable. Courtesy Spencer Brownstone, NY, and Danielle Arnaud, London. Third row: Ruth Claxton, Nest (Canary after Gereon), 2008. Wall-mounted sculpture: welded steel, paint, mirror, glass,vinyl, found porcelain figurine, vase, clingfilm and beads 70 x 95 x 50 cm. Courtesy Faye Fleming & Partner, Geneva and New York; Liz Rowe, Looking down I wanted to jump, 2010. Collage, 15 x 17 cm. Courtesy the artist; David Miller, The Freedom Cabinet, 2009 Photogram, 40.6 x 30.5 cm. Courtesy the artist. Bottom row: Harminder Singh Judge, Madonna & Child, 2008. Fiberglass, schlag metal, white neon, 60 x 53 x 78 cm. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Charlie Levine; Karin Kihlberg and Reuben Henry, Dead Actor No. 11, from the ‘Acting Dead’ series, 2010. Pencil on paper, 70 x 100 cm. Courtesy the artists and Danielle Arnaud, London
Matt Price is a writer, editor and curator based in Birmingham and London. Former managing editor of Flash Art and deputy editor of Art Review, he has also written for magazines including a-n, Art Monthly, Frieze and Modern Painters. He has recently curated exhibitions at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, Plan B Gallery in Berlin and Master Piper, London, and has been invited to curate an exhibition of British painting at the next Prague Biennale. He has edited publications on figures including Ai Weiwei and Herzog & de Meuron, Gerhard Richter, Joep Van Lieshout, The Campana Brothers, David Adjaye, Justin Mortimer, and Jitish Kallat.
Searching for a kind of sublime The work of Idris Khan
every... photograph taken whilst on holidays in Portugal with my ex-girlfriend, 2003 Lambda digital C print mounted on aluminium, 71.1 x 76.2 cm ÂŠ Idris Khan. Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro Gallery, London
LOSS, TRACE, HISTORY, RELIGION, ABSTRACTION, REPETITION, COMPRESSION, TIME, APPROPRIATION. These words have often been used in describing British artist Idris Khan’s work. Khan appropriates seminal texts, musical scores, reproductions of paintings, and key works from the photographic oeuvre, photographing and scanning them and digitally layering the results, adjusting the light, shade or opacity of the images to create a finely edited composite image, also called a palimpsest. His use of the photographic medium – appearing as only delicate marks on photographic paper – lends his work the quality of a drawing or painting. He challenges time, bringing the beholder back to memory or relationship with the reference, experiencing it in one condensed, flattened moment. “I often feel that my work is about pointing at something,” says Khan. “Roland Barthes called it the indexical. Pointing at something with your index finger and saying, ‘Here, look at this.’ The photograph is a tool used to take you back to a certain point in your life, to remember a face or a place you once stood. I feel there is always something quite melancholic about a photograph.”
Shortly after his degree show in 2004, the young artist landed in a group show at prestigious London gallery Victoria Miro Born and raised in Walsall, Khan entered Walsall College of Art and Technology, where he got his foundation, and in 2000 he received his BA in photography at the University of Derby. At that time, he says, photographers were more interested in realism, artists who “left nothing to the imagination.” Khan wanted to consider something slower, something that demanded the attention of the viewer with a slower eye. Mark Durden, his dissertation professor at Derby, and Rhonda Wilson MBE of Rhubarb Rhubarb in Birmingham, both encouraged him to apply for the Masters in fine art at the Royal College of Art, where he was accepted in 2002. “The Royal College changed my life completely,” says Khan. “I had practical skills but I needed to home in on the reading, to know why I was taking photographs or how to use photography.” Shortly after his degree show in 2004, the young artist landed in a group show at prestigious London gallery Victoria Miro. “Victoria and I saw Idris’s work for the first degree show at the Royal College of Art,” says Miro’s partner and director of Victoria Miro Gallery, Glenn Scott Wright. “We do try to go to a lot of the degree shows and look at art that’s coming out of the colleges, but it’s very rare that we would pick up someone straight from art college. It’s only happened a couple of times.” Victoria Miro Gallery is considered one of London’s most prestigious blue chip galleries, selling works by both emerging artists and established artists who are among the most collected, most featured in personal and museum collections, and some whose works reach the highest price in auctions. “We work to build [our artists’] careers,” says Wright of the gallery’s approach. “We’re trying to get them museum shows and in museum collections, and we’re trying to get critics to write about the work.” Wright explains that Idris’s
work was appealing to the gallery for its original voice. “A lot of photography that you look at looks like someone else’s work,” he says. “With Idris, you can see the references, but he’s reinterpreting it, presenting it with his own vocabulary. And that’s what excited us about him. This is someone doing something that we’ve never seen before.” Over the last five years, two of Khan’s biggest supporters have been husband-and-wife collectors John Smith and Vicky Hughes. “I saw his work at his degree show at the Royal College of Art, so I had an idea of his work prior to [seeing it at] Victoria Miro,” says Hughes. Though Khan did not have any history in the contemporary art market at the time and had only had a few shows, Hughes felt compelled to buy one of his works. “It’s about how work resonates with you,” she says. “My interest in art is that relationship with the work I see, and the emotive, intellectual dialogue. It’s not about whether or not these artists are going to be successful.” The speculative nature of the art market that Hughes is referring to has been very controversial over the last decade. As the prices of art spiked, a new breed of collector, the “investor-collector” as coined by The Art Newspaper, emerged, where collectors looked at art primarily as a commodity, considering work for its potential financial gain and not aesthetic or conceptual properties. This has been an unfortunate game in the largely unregulated art market, where these collectors often “flip” works for larger sums of money than they purchased them for. Such behaviour has led galleries like Victoria Miro to consider every potential collector very seriously. “You don’t want to sell works willynilly to anyone who is perhaps speculating about the work, and because of that, we only try to sell to people we have a relationship with, either through discussions with the artist or in dealing with other artists’ programs. There are some major collectors out there in this country, Europe and the States who have pretty much bought across the board with the gallery,” says Wright.
Khan’s work has not only resonated amongst his collectors but institutions as well Hughes and Smith, who collect works of several of Victoria Miro Gallery’s artists, also collect from emerging galleries and visit degree shows at prestigious art schools like the RCA, Slade and Goldsmiths, who open degree shows to the public. Hughes, who is the chairman of Tate Patrons, feels that a collector’s biggest responsibility is to learn about the artists and their practices. She says that established galleries like Victoria Miro, who “has a great track record in finding artists who have something unique and are technically brilliant in different categories,” facilitate that relationship. She suggests that potential collectors should also make regular visits to public institutions, read art journals, and go to art fairs. “Read, look, ask and you will increase your comfort level,” she says. “You can just join art institutions as a member. Patron programs are also great ways to meet artists.”
every... stave of Frederick Chopin’s Nocturnes for the piano, 2004 Lambda digital C print mounted on aluminium, 88.9 x 279.4 cm © Idris Khan. Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro Gallery, London Opposite: every... Bernd & Hilla Becher Spherical Type Gasholder, 2003 every... Bernd & Hilla Becher Prison Type Gasholder, 2004 Lambda digital C prints mounted on aluminium, 67 x 53 cm (each) © Idris Khan. Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro Gallery, London
Khan’s work has not only resonated amongst his collectors but institutions as well. At his first appearance at Victoria Miro, in a group show titled Photography 2005, Khan’s work was bought by the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney. “You show an artist for the first time, fresh out of college, and you place a work with a major museum, and not even in this country. Again that’s very unusual,” says Wright. Shortly after the show, Victoria Miro officially took on representation of Khan and the following year he had a solo show with the gallery. At this time, San Francisco’s Fraenkel Gallery also took on Khan and Yvon Lambert, who has outposts in New York and Paris, not too long after that. Now only six years out of graduate school, Khan has had a major solo exhibition at institutions including K20, Düsseldorf, in 2008, and has exhibited at Art Dubai (2008), Forum d’art contemporain, Luxembourg (2008), inIVA, London (2006), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2006) and Helsinki Kunsthalle (2005).
“Khan uses photography like a painter, overlapping multiple layers to give a very rich resolution” Khan says he struggles with analogue photography, “the gap between the objects in front of the photography, the negative and finally the print.” He disregards the negative and attempts to eradicate the camera. “I never really liked peering into a camera or a lens. And I can’t take photographs, I’m really bad at it, honestly,” he quips. “For me, it’s always been using photography as a medium, as a path, a way of collecting information, especially just photographing straight out of a book or scanning. I never make a negative. It’s always from a digital image to the computer, or the scan to the computer and then I manipulate it.” It’s this digital process that allows Khan the freedom to compress this gap, to alter the spatial and temporal plane so that they are compressed, and each
layering of the scanned image is a thoughtful human decision. Each page from a text or note from a score can be collapsed into one delicate moment. The photographs of gas holders and water towers taken by the German photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher – an incredibly arduous and repetitive process – are in Khan’s work made to appear ghostly, yet animated with charged lines of energy and life. The work holds the weight of history but with an expressionistic and contemporary quality. “Khan uses photography like a painter, overlapping multiple layers to give a very rich resolution,” says Chrissie Shearman, Senior Director of Yvon Lambert’s New York gallery. “He is particularly successful at conveying the art history that he references.” In this way, Khan’s work grapples with the magnitude and significance of time – in both a historical sense and the human struggle with one’s own lifetime. “I think there is a clear sense of empathy, a fascination for what the labour of a lifetime might represent,” he says. “Aside from the archival photographic projects by the Bechers that represent many years of labour, consider my piece ‘every … Nicholas Nixon’s the Brown Sisters’ (2004) in which a single portrait of [Nixon’s] wife and her sisters, taken annually over a period of 30 years, traces the effects of age and experience on the sisters’ appearance and their relationships to one another; or my piece ‘on Rembrandt … By Himself’ (2006), which brings together all of Rembrandt’s famously penetrating selfportraits. ‘Every … stave of Frederick Chopin’s Nocturnes for the piano’ (2004) pays homage to a group of compositions that span the length of Chopin’s productive life and the evolution of his style. Sometimes it is not the full span of a life that I am interested in, but the accumulation of experience in late works by great artists and thinkers. My choices of subjects are highly particular and seem to fall into my lap. I am searching for a kind of sublime that would have suggested something very different if I had chosen to make images of blogs or tabloid newspapers.”
Over the last four years, Khan’s photographic process has translated to the mediums of film and sculpture. In 2006, he created his first film ‘A Memory... After Bach’s Cello Suites’. Shot on a 16mm camera and transferred to a digital process, Khan visualizes sound in moving image, and by deleting, adding, repeating footage and speeding up or delaying time, the eye and ear are harmonious yet somehow disconnected in a beautiful, dreamlike way. “The film was based on my dad praying, so I used the rhythm of that prayer; every time he changed movement, I would change something in the film. It gave a natural rhythm to the film. It wasn’t just about layering up every piece that I recorded. It was about slow build-up, slowing it down, as someone who is praying goes to his knees. It became more meditative,” says Khan whose father is a devout Muslim, a subject that, like seminal works of literature and art, has influenced his work greatly. Khan, born to a Welsh mother and Pakistani father, says he felt isolated as the only mixed race boy at his mosque. Taught to memorize the daily Islamic prayers but not able to decipher their meaning, he says he always struggled with the duality of his heritage. As a result, his work questions the real versus the spiritual world and human connection to – and interaction with – this potentially sublime other place. He sees this worship from the perspective of both insider and outsider. In earlier photographic works, Khan appropriated the Koran and Arabic texts of the mystical Sufi poet Rumi, and in a solo show at Victoria Miro Gallery last spring, he explored these texts and rituals in the form of a large-scale floor installation comprising 144 precisely placed oil-sealed steel cubes – referencing Carl Andre’s ‘144 Graphite Silence’ (2005) – each cube resembling the Kaaba in Mecca. The work, titled ‘Seven Times’, adapts a process from his first sculptural work ‘Quartet for the End of Time’ (2008), where Khan appropriated Richard Serra’s work ‘One Ton Prop (House of Cards)’ (1969), and reinterpreted it in an exploration of Olivier Messiaen’s seminal score, which was sandblasted on to the rusted templates. Each cube that comprised ‘Seven Times’ was sandblasted up the side and
across the top five times with different sections of the daily prayer that Muslims perform five times throughout the day. While this recent three-dimensional work extends Khan’s photographic process into a sculptural work, it also moves away from the chatter of the skittering lines or the richness and organic evolution of the layering but instead takes on the precise and calculated language of minimal art. Khan emphasizes this balance between minimal presentation and poetic application — a more constructed and slower approach — and references works by Frank Stella, such as ‘Blue Horizon’ (1958), and Agnes Martin, including ‘With My Back to the World’, that have informed his recent work. In the same show, Khan featured a wall relief work titled ‘Listening to Glenn Gould’s Version of the Goldberg Variations while thinking about Carl Andre’. The eccentric Glenn Gould, a classical pianist known for his unorthodox and colourful interpretation of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, was despised by many music lovers and celebrated by others. He presented Bach’s score at an incredible speed, accentuated by staccatos, but with precise articulation and vivacity. No doubt Gould was telling his own story and his daring realization of a score and highly original personal vision set him apart from his peers. In this sense, Khan’s work is akin to Gould’s and with such a distinctive personal vision and rich material to draw from, he has and will continue to set himself apart in the evolution of his oeuvre. www.victoria-miro.com Marina Cashdan is a New York-based writer and editor who regularly contributes to arts and culture publications including Frieze, Artinfo, Whitewall, Departures, Wallpaper*, British Vogue, and New York Times T Magazine. She is an arts blogger for The Huffington Post and most recently was the executive editor at Modern Painters. She is regularly back and forth between New York and the United Kingdom.
Outdoor exhibition Outside Snow Hill Station Colmore Row Birmingham, B3 2BJ Open 24 hours, free
Indoor exhibitions One Snowhill Birmingham, B4 6GN 10.00–17.00 Monday to Saturday Closed Sunday, free
Birmingham Central Library holds a collection of some 60 vintage prints by Brian Griffin. These include works from the 1980s and images from his 2003 cultural portrait of Birmingham. These will be permanently housed as part of the Library’s Photography Collections in the new Library of Birmingham when it opens in 2013. Amongst the 2.5 million photographs forming Library’s collection are outstanding works from pioneers such as Roger Fenton, Edweard Muybridge, Sir Benjamin Stone, Francis Frith and Francis Bedford. This sits alongside extensive archives relating to modern photographers including Bill Brandt, Harold Edgerton, Paul Hill, Vanley Burke, John Blakemore, Stuart Whipps, Paul Fusco, Martin Parr and Peter Marlow. No other public library in the UK can boast a collection of this size and quality.
Face to Face, a retrospective 30 September – 21 November, 2010 More information www.briangriffin-facetoface.co.uk
The Library of Birmingham will be a centre of excellence for photography in the region. It will open up access to all its globally significant treasures through interactive display and interpretation, innovative research facilities and exhibitions. ZZZ ELUPLQJKDP JRY XN OLEUDU\RIELUPLQJKDP
A complex mix of love and repulsion George Shaw’s paintings of Coventry
George Shaw No Returns, 2009 Humbrol enamel on board 147.5 x 198 cm Private Collection London Courtesy Wilkinson Gallery, London
GEORGE SHAW’S PAINTINGS FORM A CUMULATIVE PORTRAIT OF A SINGLE SUBJECT: TILE HILL, the sprawling housing estate near Coventry, in the West Midlands, where he spent his childhood in the 1970s. Human figures rarely sully these exquisitely abandoned suburb-scapes. Instead, the personality of Tile Hill is hinted at through quotidian traces: garage doors, whose paint has lifted to reveal rotting wood and rusty iron, that are not unlike the skin of an old man; fields of grass that are eternally damp and unkempt, and deracinated tree stumps that suggest Paul Nash or TS Eliot’s existential and real wastelands. Shaw’s skies almost invariably share this cold, blank personality: the light is directionless and the heavens vacant of sun or stars. This is a landscape in which one might listen to The Smiths and read Philip Larkin (Shaw himself references both as influences). You might dream of escape – “Get out as early as you can” wrote Larkin – but know deep down that the place has seeped into your very marrow.
Shaw’s paintings are portraits of a place that is at once familiarly British and disquietingly otherworldly. The artist paints his images with Humbrol paint onto board, an unpainterly medium suggestive of geeky obsession (it is used to paint model planes and science fiction figurines). Yet, perversely, these paintings are relatively large (a recent image from 2009 measures 147.5 x 198 cm). Shaw’s subject and method might be humdrum, but there’s also an impulse here to explore grander themes. His works’ titles are frequently prefixed with the words ‘Scenes from The Passion’. The inference is religious, but the works themselves are more darkly Romantic than the titles suggest. Shaw depicts the wooded hinterlands surrounding the estate as dark, potentially violent, supernatural places. They invoke both the Gothic horror of Edgar Allan Poe and sites of contemporary criminal activity – places where, as Shaw has commented, you might go and “never come home for tea”. The dark magic in these works rests on the gaping difference between the observed and the hidden, what we see and what we merely imagine.
Perhaps his vision is appealing for the very fact that it is so unapologetically ordinary Shaw’s astute combinations of the recognisable and the uncanny have achieved a level of popularity rare in contemporary art. His exhibitions have been reviewed in national newspapers (the Telegraph and the Independent), specialist art magazines (Frieze and Art Monthly), architecture magazines (The Architects’ Journal) and a variety of blogs. In 2006 Channel 4 broadcast a 26-minute-long documentary on Shaw titled The Late George Shaw, in which the artist wrote a tongue-in-cheek obituary to himself: in a normal summation of an artist’s life, the creative type is supposed to have had a “tortured” childhood, but, he notes, “there was nothing unusual in my childhood, or if there was I’d forgotten it”. Shaw is an everyman in both his art and his life, and perhaps his vision is appealing for the very fact that it is so unapologetically ordinary. Shaw has also had a great deal of success in the international commercial and non-commercial art scenes. Much of this is undoubtedly due to the work of his gallerist Anthony Wilkinson, who operates Wilkinson Gallery in the East End of London. Shaw has had solo exhibitions there in 1999, 2001, 2005 and 2009, and has sold works through the gallery and in auction at Bonhams, London. With Wilkinson’s help, Shaw’s works have been sold to giant corporate collectors such as Deutsche Bank and more modestly-scaled private collectors like Roger Evans, whose one-bedroom flat off Brick Lane, London, is crammed with more than 250 contemporary art works. His
work can also be found in public collections such as the Tate, the Mead Gallery at the University of Warwick, Southampton City Art Gallery and Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art. Gallery representation has also helped Shaw become part of the international art scene, presenting solo exhibitions at such prestigious institutions as the Kunstverein Freiburg im Marienbad (Germany), Centre d´Art Contemporain Geneve (Switzerland) and Dundee Contemporary Arts (Scotland). His latest public solo exhibition, Looking for Baz, Shaz, Gaz and Daz, took place at VOID, Derry, during August and September 2010, and was curated by Gregory McCartney. Shaw is also committed to exhibiting in the West Midlands. In 2003 his major solo show at Ikon in Birmingham was a critical and popular hit, and in 2011 he will present a solo exhibition at the recently renovated Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry. When he exhibits further afield, the artist’s home travels packed up like a suitcase in his art: his most recent exhibition at Wilkinson Gallery was titled Woodsman, a reference to a pub in Tile Hill Estate where his father used to drink and his mother used to work. In a recent article in Tate Etc. magazine, Shaw noted how his father “had been a working man all of his life”, who was eventually “made redundant from the Standard car factory in Coventry”. Lynsey Hanley writes in her book Estates: An Intimate History, “Estates is a bruise in the form of a word: it hits the nerves that register shame, disgust, fear and, very occasionally, fierce pride”. Yet, for all these mixed emotions, for Hanley, who grew up on the Woods Estate near Birmingham, “…the Woods stay with me like a shadow”. For Shaw, growing up in Tile Hill was perhaps not idyllic, but the place remains a creative wellspring. Shaw, who now lives in Ilfracombe in Devon, clearly retains a passionate emotional attachment to the place he grew up in. If this seems like a contradiction, it should be noted that this devotion to origins is not merely a local human capacity: you may look at Shaw’s images as a multi-millionaire collector in Geneva, and understand that these works explore a complex mix of love and repulsion, attachment and bitterness. More importantly, Shaw’s paintings never turn the grittiness of their subject into something exotic, bohemian or extraordinary. They are hyper-ordinary. They are real to the nth degree. They are superb paintings whose gloaming darkness, pallid and sometimes coruscating light intensifies the mundane until it becomes a sublime landscape of sprawling psychological depth.
Colin Perry is an art critic and writer based in London. He writes regularly for magazines and journals such as Frieze and Art Monthly, has written for Art Review, Catalogue, Modern Painters and Art in America, and also writes catalogue essays for galleries and museums. He has recently been researching the history of British video art from the 1970s and 1980s, investigating its impact on contemporary artists’ video and film.
Stump with Roots, 2008-9 Humbrol enamel on board 147.5 x 198 cm Private Collection USA Courtesy Wilkinson Gallery, London
The End of Time, 2008-9 Humbrol enamel on board 147.5 x 198 cm Arts Council Collection Courtesy Wilkinson Gallery, London
All the fun of the fair
The Art of Ideas guide to contemporary art fairs
Frieze Art Fair
If you visit Frieze Art Fair, which takes place in London every October, then you’re taking part in what must be the most important annual event in the UK’s contemporary art calendar. Presenting many of the most interesting galleries working today from around the world, the fair showcases both new and established artists. And everyone’s there. Well, almost everyone. People fly in from all over the world to see what’s on offer, to meet gallerists, artists, critics, collectors and curators. You can feel the excitement in the air. As well as the main fair, there is also a section dedicated to solo artist presentations from galleries that have been in existence for fewer than six years. In addition to being able to see art by over 1,000 of the world’s leading artists, visitors can experience the fair’s programme of artists’ commissions, events and talks. Frieze Art Fair is designed by architects Caruso St John and housed in a bespoke structure in Regent’s Park.
In recent years Artissima, the International Fair of Contemporary Art in Turin, Italy, has been establishing itself as a key contemporary art fair on the international stage. Artissima not only offers some of the most cutting-edge galleries in the world, but it is also a leading cultural event, and one that takes over the whole city for a week. And of course, the Italians always do things in style. Artissima invites 250 international collectors each year, offering them a preview of the booths, tours of exhibitions around the city and a number of special events, including a gala dinner for more than 1,000 guests. As with many of the major art fairs, Artissima has a VIP area for collectors, journalists and specially invited visitors. Three prizes were awarded at the fair in 2009: Illy Present Future, Guido Carbone New Entries and the Ettore Fico prize. The 17th edition of Artissima will be held in spectacular new premises, the Oval, under the artistic direction of Francesco Manacorda.
Art Basel in Switzerland is one of the largest and most established art fairs in the world, this year celebrating its 41st edition. More than 300 galleries from 36 countries on six continents showed works by over 2,500 artists from the 20th and 21st centuries. Exhibitors also presented major works in the Art Unlimited section, featuring more than 50 ambitious projects. In the past few years, Art Basel has also been organizing one of the most important fairs in the USA – Art Basel Miami Beach. The exhibition halls are situated in the city of Miami’s beautiful Art Deco district and within walking distance of the beach. The main sponsor of both fairs is UBS and the Associate Sponsors are Cartier, NetJets Inc., and AXA Art. Art Basel and Art Basel Miami Beach are directed by Annette Schönholzer and Marc Spiegler.
Artissima takes place from 5-7 November 2010. www.artissima.it
Photo: Ai Weiwei, Field, 2010 outside Art 41 Basel, 2010. Courtesy of Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing, Luzern, and MCH Swiss Exhibition (Basel/Zurich) Ltd
The 2010 edition of the Frieze Art Fair runs from 14-17 October. www.frieze.com Photo: © Graham Carlow. Courtesy Frieze
Photo: Artissima 16, 2009. © Max Tomasinelli
LISTE LISTE describes itself as “The Young Art Fair in Basel” and is one of the most important international fairs for young and emerging contemporary artists, attracting more than 10,000 visitors each year. Presenting over 60 galleries from around 25 countries, the fair was established in 1996 as a complement to Art Basel, one of the most significant art fairs in the world today. Many galleries that start out showing at LISTE progress to Art Basel as they grow. Between 40 and 45 spaces are reserved at LISTE for galleries that have been set up in the past five years, and if they continue to impress can qualify to participate for several years. Together,
Art 42 Basel takes place 15-19 June 2011, Art Basel Miami Beach runs from 2-5 December 2010. www.artbasel.com
LISTE and VOLTA ensure that the Swiss city has an impressive reputation for selling international contemporary art. LISTE takes place in two venues, a former brewery and a tent structure designed by Zurich-based architects UNEND. The main sponsor of the fair, for over ten years, is Basler Privatbank E. Gutzwiller & Cie Banquiers, allowing the fair to offer reasonable prices to young galleries. Each year the redtoo Art Prize is awarded to a young artist in the fair, and this is sponsored by the Nationale Suisse Insurance Company. Liste 16 will be held between 14-19 June 2011. www.liste.ch Photo: Opening of LISTE 15. © Daniel Spehr
The Armory Show
Founded in 2005, VOLTA runs in parallel with Art Basel. Conceived to bridge a gap between Basel’s pre-existing fairs, VOLTA showcases galleries – whether young or mature – that choose to work with the most exciting emerging artists. Between 10,000 and 15,000 visitors attend each year, with around 80 participating galleries. Situated opposite the Empire State Building, VOLTA NY is the American incarnation of the successful young fair and exclusively features solo projects, offering an opportunity for in-depth discoveries.
ARCOmadrid is Spain’s leading art fair, annually hosting around 3,000 contemporary artists from Spain and worldwide, presented by over 220 galleries. Prices range from €500 to €1,000,000, so there’s something for everyone, from firsttime buyers to experienced collectors and major institutions. ARCO also rewards excellence among collectors, with annual awards presented to public and private collections. This year saw the international award go to the J. Paul Getty Trust. The award for Spanish collections was shared between London-based collector and patron Carmen Buqueras de Riera and the Pi Fernandino Collection.
The Armory Show in New York City asserts itself as “America’s leading fine art fair devoted to the most important art of the 20th and 21st centuries”. In its 12 years, the fair has become an international institution, welcoming each March nearly 300 exhibitors and more than 60,000 visitors. This year, first-time exhibitors Upstream Gallery from Amsterdam reported selling out their show within the first 35 minutes. The Lower East Side’s Rental Gallery, another first-time exhibitor, reported selling out the entire booth within two hours of the fair’s opening. With many celebrities attending, it’s clearly the place to be seen as well as to see some of the best contemporary art.
ARCOmadrid 2011 will run from 16-20 February. www.arco.ifema.es
The Armory Show takes place 3-6 March 2011. www.thearmoryshow.com
Photo: Courtesy ARCOmadrid
Photo: Carrie Villines
VOLTA Show takes place 14-19 June 2011. http://voltashow.com The next edition of VOLTA NY runs from 3-6 March 2011. http://ny.voltashow.com Photo: VOLTA NY 2010. Courtesy Volta
London Art Fair
Affordable Art Fair
Long recognized for its welcoming atmosphere, the London Art Fair is the UK’s largest Modern British and Contemporary art fair, held annually at the Business Design Centre, Islington. Now approaching its 23rd edition, every year 22,000 visitors enjoy the work of over 1,000 leading artists, with galleries chosen by a selection committee. Alongside the main fair are two curated sections focusing on younger galleries, new work and contemporary photography. The selection panel for Photo50 in the 2010 edition of the fair included prominent collector Anita Zabludowicz, photography writer and lecturer David Campany and a team from Goldsmith’s MFA curating programme.
The Manchester Contemporary is perhaps the most exciting art fair in England outside London, showcasing a selection of dynamic UK galleries. Launched in 2009, its first outing saw 15 galleries take part including Ceri Hand Gallery (Liverpool), Limoncello (London), Workplace (Gateshead) and Castlefield Gallery (Manchester). The 2010 edition is curated by The International 3 gallery from Manchester. The event is supported by the Contemporary Art Society and the Arts Council as well as regional organisations. It takes place at Spinningfields, Manchester, a new complex for cultural and financial enterprise.
The Affordable Art Fair (AAF) was started in 1999 by Will Ramsay, and since then has sold more than £100m of art worldwide. In the UK over 350,000 people have visited the show, spending more than £60m. AAF has also become something of a global phenomenon with fairs taking place twice a year in London (Spring and Autumn collections) and annually in Bristol, Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels and New York, with affiliate fairs in Sydney, Melbourne and Hong Kong. AAF Milan is also due to launch in 2011. AAF’s relaxed environment has underlined its position as one of the leading and most popular art fairs in the UK, showcasing works that are all priced between £50 and £3,000.
The next edition takes place 19-23 January 2011. www.londonartfair.co.uk
The 2010 edition runs from 28-31 October. www.themanchestercontemporary.co.uk
AAF is next on between 21-24 October 2010. www.affordableartfair.co.uk
Photo: Courtesy London Art Fair
Photo: Courtesy Manchester Contemporary
Photo: Courtesy the Affordable Art Fair
Celebrating the UK’s coolest art fair
SINCE IT WAS SET UP SEVEN YEARS AGO, FRIEZE ART FAIR HAS BECOME THE SINGLE MOST SIGNIFICANT TRADING SHOP FOR CONTEMPORARY ART IN THE UK, and one of the most important fairs in the global art calendar. Unlike its European competitors such as Basel and Munich, Frieze only sells works by living artists – and its tentacles reach deep into the fabric of contemporary art in London. For four days every October 60,000 visitors make their way through the vast tented structure, mostly to browse, but often – of course – to buy contemporary art. “Frieze Week” has helped change the London art scene, which ten years ago was smaller than it is today (another influence on the expanded UK scene was the creation of Tate Modern in 2000, which this year celebrates its tenth anniversary). Established in 2003 by directors Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover, the Fair is connected by an umbilical cord of art critics, writers, curators and business people with its namesake, Frieze magazine. Set up in the early 1990s, the magazine helped provide an intelligent critical commentary on the YBA (Young British Art) scene that was frequently discussed with breathless enthusiasm or scandalous dismissal in the mainstream press. It has since grown into one of the most respected and authoritative contemporary art and culture publications in the world. Before 2003, it is undoubtedly true to say that London lacked an art fair that responded adequately to the movements documented in the magazine. Every year since its first, comparatively modest edition, the fair has grown to meet these evolving needs. Last year it included a section called Frame, which gave younger galleries of less than six years’ experience the chance to be part of the fair – quite an opportunity considering the difficulty galleries have in accessing such a lucrative market, where galleries established 10, 20, or 30 years ago rule the roost. Again, this year’s Frame includes a squad of young galleries such as Ancient & Modern (London), Rodeo (Istanbul), and Lisa Cooley (New York), each presenting a solo show of one of their stable of artists. Although Frieze is a commercial venture, it has also been structured in such a way that it supports non-commercial artistic practices and public art collections. The Frieze Foundation, a non-profit organisation funded by the European Union and Arts Council England oversees programmes such
Ugo Rondinone A Day Like This is Made of Nothing and Nothing Else, 2009 Presented at Frieze Art Fair 2009 at Galerie Eva Presenhuber’s stand. The work was sold to Spanish collector Helga de Alvear. Photo © Linda Nylind Courtesy Frieze
The entrance gates to the Frieze Art Fair, Regent’s Park, London Photo © Graham Carlow Courtesy of Frieze
as panel discussions and lectures (Frieze Talks), a curated series of site-specific projects in and around the fair (Frieze Projects), and the self-explanatory Frieze Music, Frieze Education and Frieze Film programmes. The talks frequently explore issues relating to funding, criticality and commerce in a frank and exploratory manner. Indeed, while Frieze Art Fair might look like a behemoth from the outside – a vast white tent – inside it’s a nest of conflicting and dissenting ideas. The two strands of the fair – commerce and criticality – are complemented by a third: various philanthropic funds. The Frieze Foundation also oversees the Cartier Award, which is presented to an emerging artist each year. The 2010 winner is Simon Fujiwara, who is realising a project called Frozen at the fair that will cheekily draw parallels between ancient archaeological hoards and contemporary art collecting. Another major benefactor at the fair is Outset Frieze Art Fund – the world’s first acquisitions fund connected to an art fair – which enables the Tate to acquire new works for the national collection. 78 works by 51 significant international artists have been collected since 2003, including Birmingham-born painter Hurvin Anderson’s ‘Jersey’ (2008). Since 2003, supporters of the fund have donated more than £900,000, which has enabled the Tate to buy and display contemporary works to the British public. The mixture of private commerce, philanthropy, public acquisition, academic discussion and pure entertainment has proved a successful model. In a recent interview, director Amanda Sharp said, “I think the fair is a prime example of how you can create a commercial model which facilitates a lot of culture.” As well as its use of private funders to enable artworks to be channelled into the Tate’s public collection, Frieze Art Fair also gets support from corporations such as Deutsche Bank, Cartier and the Financial Times (Deutsche Bank also supports The Royal Academy of Arts, Royal College of Art and Shakespeare’s Globe). Frieze Art Fair’s business model is a careful balancing act between corporate, private and public pressures. But it seems to work. Indeed, it is perhaps the only sensible solution to supporting the broad range of practices and needs in the arts today. www.frieze.com
Colin Perry is an art critic and writer based in London. He writes regularly for magazines and journals such as Frieze and Art Monthly, has written for Art Review, Catalogue, Modern Painters and Art in America, and also writes catalogue essays for galleries and museums. He has recently been researching the history of British video art from the 1970s and 1980s, investigating its impact on contemporary artists’ video and film.
Down to business
Corporate collections of contemporary art
NO ONE IS SURE WHO INVENTED THE MAXIM “A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS”. SOME SAY IT’S A VERSION OF A CHINESE PROVERB, others think it may have originated from France or Russia. What is known is that the adage was adopted by the American advertising industry in the 1920s. Since then it’s become increasingly evident that the visual image is vital to the process of communicating ideas, building and transforming identities and impacting on public consciousness. That art can be powerful is nothing new, but at a time when more people in the world are visiting museums and galleries than ever before, and these same institutions are increasingly breaking down boundaries between art and the public, art has never been more visible in society. It is perhaps unsurprising to learn that many highly successful businesses are actively involved in contemporary art, and many of the people who are successful in business are also significant supporters of the visual arts. A large number of corporations globally have felt the benefits of bringing together the worlds of business and contemporary art. Certainly, investing in contemporary art can pay huge dividends: early this year Dresdner Bank sold a sculpture by the Italian-Swiss artist, Giacometti. The work smashed auction records, exceeding its estimate by over £40 million and selling for a staggering 65 million. But while art may be a shrewd investment and collections can become valuable assets, it’s rarely for financial reasons alone that businesses get involved in art. Another German bank to have benefited from its involvement with contemporary art is Deutsche Bank. Pioneering amongst its peers, the bank began their investment in contemporary art at the end of the 1970s. They can now boast the biggest company collection in the world, with over 56,000 works displayed throughout the offices of its branches at 911 locations in 48 countries, and long-standing partnerships with organisations and institutes such as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in New York and the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin. In its London office, Winchester House, which the bank moved into in 1999, each of the 60 conference rooms displays a work by a prominent British or German artist, after whom that room is named. The reception area features works by major British artists Anish Kapoor and Damien Hirst.
Museum Cone, Mori Art Museum The Mori Art Museum hosted an exhibition of the UBS Art Collection in 2008, entitled Art Is For the Spirit. Courtesy the Mori Art Museum, Japan
Deutsche Bank London reception. Works by Anish Kapoor and Damien Hirst. Image Courtesy Deutsche Bank Collection
While the kudos of amassing such a collection and the publicity garnered from high-visibility sponsorship is undoubtedly beneficial to the reputation and social standing of a global corporation, the bank’s involvement in art also fulfils another role, that of corporate social responsibility (CSR). In Deutsche Bank’s online art magazine, Art Mag, they explain: “(We) regard corporate social responsibility as an investment in society and in its own future. Our goal as a responsible corporate citizen is to create social capital.” Affirming its commitment to a continued involvement in art, Deutsche Bank has this year inaugurated its Artist of the Year Programme with New Yorkbased Kenyan artist, Wangechi Mutu. The programme aims to provide a long-term impetus to an artist’s career by giving them their first comprehensive solo exhibition in Germany at the Deutsche Guggenheim, after which the show will travel to further international institutions. In addition to this a selection of works will be acquired for the Deutsche Bank collection.
Museum, established in 2003 by property and construction giant Minoru Mori, is at the top of the Mori Tower, the centrepiece of the urban development of the Rappongi Hills.
Deutsche Bank is by no means unique among large corporations in supporting the arts. In the banking world, UBS also stands out, with a collection of over 35,000 objects and thousands of contemporary works by artists ranging from the newest emerging talents to some of the most important of the last 60 years. Artists include Michael Borremans, Wim Delvoye, Andreas Gursky, Roni Horn, Anselm Kiefer, Julian Opie, Neo Rauch, Sam Taylor-Wood and Erwin Worm, to name just a few. An exhibition of selected works from the UBS Art Collection was recently shown at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, presenting 140 paintings, photographs, drawings and videos by 60 internationally known artists. The Mori Art
In addition to major banking, accountancy and insurance companies including Ernst and Young, Hans Rasmus Astrup (in the form of the Astrup Fearnley Museum in Oslo), Simmons and Simmons, AXA, Dresdner Bank and Swiss Re, corporate collections extend across the spectrum of the business world: telecommunications giant Samsung have over 25,000 works in their collection, and in 2004 opened their own museum in Seoul. Migros, the Swiss supermarket group, began collecting local and national art in 1957, thanks to the impetus of the company’s founder, Gottlieb Duttweiler. In the 1970s, after Duttweiler’s death, the decision was taken to professionalise the collection, steering it towards contemporary international
La Caixa, Spain’s leading savings bank, also demonstrates an enthusiastic commitment to contemporary art. Their collection dates back to 1985 and was initiated with the aim of bringing together a collection that reflects the “richness and complexity of artistic creation in our time”. It consists of more than 800 works by Spanish and international artists dating back to 1980. The collection is displayed in a permanent space at CaixaForum in Barcelona. JP Morgan recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the JPMorgan Chase Art Collection, originated in 1959 when David Rockefeller established the Chase Manhattan Bank’s art program. Today the collection contains eclectic and exciting works by artists such as Shirin Neshat, Chuck Close, Cindy Sherman and Jorg Immendorff.
agnès b. Collection of Photography Exhibition view at C/O Berlin, 2008 Courtesy C/O Berlin
art. The Migros collection has a core of 450 works which are displayed in temporary exhibitions at a museum founded in an old Zurich brewery in 1996 – now a noted and lively centre for the visual arts in the city. Car manufacturers who collect art include Daimler Chrysler (Daimler’s collection dates back to 1977 and includes approximately 1,800 works of German and international abstract artists), and BMW, who originated the “art car” idea in 1975, and ever since have been commissioning a leading contemporary artist to “paint” a car each year, to add to their art car collection. It is perhaps unsurprising considering their involvement with aesthetics and beauty that the realms of fashion and jewellery should be attracted to supporting the visual arts. Cartier opened their own foundation and venue to present exhibitions and their new acquisitions in Paris. They now have what they describe as “an eclectic and specialised” collection of over 1,000 pieces from 300 artists. Monsoon and agnès b. both boast strong and lively collections, and Louis Vuitton is featuring art installations in his new Bond Street store and collaborating with leading cultural institutions and artists to help underprivileged youngsters in London gain access to careers in the arts. Just up the road, iconic department store Selfridges is using its window area as a temporary exhibition space for contemporary artists to boldly interface with this “temple to retail therapy”. Moving on from outfits that make you draw breath to sweets that do the same, peppermint manufacturer Altoids has been collecting and supporting emerging artists from America for the past 12 years.
There is no prescribed formula for the kind of corporation or business that can become involved in supporting, collecting and promoting contemporary art From the above examples alone it is clear that there is no prescribed formula for the kind of corporation or business that can become involved in supporting, collecting and promoting contemporary art. It’s possible to find companies involved in graphics, new media, IT, electronics, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, the construction industry and consumer products who are all now connected to contemporary art. Many of these firms sponsor exhibitions and prizes: Beck’s beer had its Futures prize, and there’s the biennial Hugo Boss Prize, administered by the Guggenheim Museum. Both awards are designed to make a dramatic impact on the career and life of the young artist recipient, both critically and financially. Unilever is continuing its collaboration with Tate in the form of an on-going sponsorship of international artist projects in the vast Turbine hall space of Tate Modern. Described as one of the most successful art/industry partnerships of modern times, the Unilever series has been extremely popular with visitors, with works such as Olafur Eliasson’s ‘The Weather Project’ and Carsten Holler’s slide proving big crowd pullers. Yet while there might not be a recipe for successful collaboration
between art and business, there do appear to be certain “rules” that companies adopt when collecting – most of which are common sense. It’s important that the art chimes with the ethos and mission statement of a company. So, for example, Altoids, the makers of Curiously Strong Mints, are building and evolving their Curiously Strong Collection of young American artists. Deutsche Bank and UBS, dynamic, global companies, have built up collections that reflect their global outreach and concerns. Undoubtedly art can help to develop the profile of an institution, but it can also serve to animate working areas, promote debate and build an awareness of visual culture. If the large-scale multi-national company seems far-fetched as a model for smaller companies to follow in terms of collecting, then think again. When Migros’ founder began collecting in 1957, he started with artists based locally. Now the company has both a world-class collection and a museum venue to its name. Other companies might have a policy of only collecting the work of artists based in the same city or region as the company itself. By supporting local artists, investing in their future and following their careers, they give these artists a better chance of developing and sustaining a reputation. This isn’t purely an altruistic process though. “Growing” local artists and being associated with them can also help to establish the identity of a company or institution, while serving to aid the cultural and economic development of a local area. Two examples of how this is starting to occur in the UK can be found in the West Midlands. Michael West, Executive Dean of Aston Business School, is a leading patron of the arts in Birmingham and the surrounding region. Realising the importance of creating a strong identity for his institution’s new building when he undertook the position of Dean in 2007, West commissioned two collections of contemporary photography, one of which was to follow the theme of the celebration of the city, thus associating the inauguration of the new building with exciting art by some of the most exciting artists based in Birmingham.
space that lists several young artists amongst its members who are rising stars on the international scene, including Stuart Whipps, Juneau Projects, Harminder Singh Judge and David Miller. With so many positive aspects connected to corporate art collecting, it’s puzzling that more businesses in the UK, and particularly those outside London, aren’t already involved. Nicola Shipley, Consultant and Visual Project Manager for Arts & Business, feels there are several possible explanations for this: “In some cases it might be a lack of confidence about where to start and what to buy. More likely though, is that the firm doesn’t have a budget for buying art.” This though need not be as obstructive as it might first appear. Shipley explains: “While a company might not have a budget specifically set aside for art, it will have to consider issues such as corporate social responsibility – in short, investing in the local area and forging a dialogue with local people. Creating a collection that draws in dynamic artists from the city and region, or finding a means to increase these artists’ profiles internationally through sponsorship initiatives, is a great way of fulfilling this goal. Equally we have worked with businesses in the Midlands and nationally to commission new work and develop collections based on the principle of transforming, improving and renewing environments and so making offices and businesses more inspiring places to work. Business collections can be motivated by PR activity, a need to market a new product or brand or to add value to a corporate identity, event or activity.” Art brings energy and often great pleasure to those who encounter it. No longer a field restricted to the privileged few, it is increasingly gaining prominence in people’s lives, and, as the examples outlined above reveal, businesses can benefit greatly from their role as patrons and enablers; enriching the lives of their employees while helping to develop artists’ careers and the culture of the local community.
With so many positive aspects connected to corporate art collecting, it’s puzzling that more businesses in the UK, and particularly those outside London, aren’t already involved Alex Reynolds is an investment manager at the accountancy, investment management and private banking firm Smith & Williamson. When the firm opened its new branch in Birmingham, Reynolds (an art history graduate) was asked by the firm to create a collection of works by artists based in the city. Reynolds felt it was important to put together a body of work that would echo the identity and ethos of the firm, while also reflecting the taste of the employees. “Ideally,” Reynolds said, “it would be great to expand the collection in the Birmingham branch, particularly as there are a number of exciting young artists living and working in Birmingham today.” Reynolds himself is involved with the local art scene as a member of the board of Grand Union, a studio and gallery
Jane Neal is a UK-based art critic, curator and visual arts consultant.She has curated exhibitions in London, New York, Los Angeles, Austin, Zurich, Prague, Bucharest and Cluj, and contributes to a wide range of international art publications including Art Review, Flash Art, MAP, Modern Painters, and RES magazine. In 2008, Neal was appointed Artistic Director of Calvert 22 to help launch the London-based, not-for-profit foundation. Educated at Oxford University and the Courtauld Institute, London, Neal continues to live and work between Oxford and London.
Great art is great business
VISUAL IS A CONTEMPORARY ART SERVICE FOR BUSINESS AND BUSINESS PEOPLE. Designed and run by Arts & Business, Visual provides its clients with a flexible and low-risk route to buying, borrowing and commissioning the best in contemporary art. Visual includes over 1,500 works of art produced by 156 carefully selected artists from all over the country, almost 60 of whom are based in the West Midlands. The artists are chosen by independent selection panels made up of arts professionals from Arts Council England, Tate Liverpool, Arnolfini, De La Warr Pavilion and Ikon Gallery, amongst others. The collection comprises fine art, photography, digital media and contemporary craft, and is displayed in an online gallery, www.visualforbusiness.com. The website allows potential clients – both members of the general public and those working within companies – to browse the collection and find out about the artists and the wider art market. Corporate clients and their employees get to enjoy full access to their personally branded version of the site. Visual was the first ever solely online gallery to be approved by Arts Council England to join Own Art – a scheme designed to make it easy and affordable for almost everyone to buy contemporary works of art and craft including paintings, photography, sculpture, glassware and furniture. Through the Own Art scheme, individuals may borrow between £100 and £2,000 towards the cost of their purchase from Visual and pay back the loan in 10 monthly interest free instalments. (Typical 0% APR. Offer subject to age and status. Terms and conditions apply.) Visual has been running successfully for six years, and was originally based on research from the ICM Survey for Arts & Business in 2003 which suggested that three-quarters of the UK workforce would prefer to work in an environment where there is art (73%), although less than half have art on the walls of their workplace. Initiated and launched in the West Midlands, the scheme expanded two years ago to take on 100 additional artists from across the country, to satisfy growing demand in other regions. Visual provides businesses and the people within them with opportunities to purchase work, loans, exhibitions, workshops and commissions together with events, engagement and consultancy. The service is designed to be flexible and can therefore respond to a variety of client briefs, meeting marketing & PR, branding, facilities, human resource and corporate social responsibility objectives.
Chris Keenan Last Flight from Brighton, 2004 Photographic print 100 x 100 cm Courtesy the artist and Visual Collection of Aston Business School, Birmingham
Ian Bratley Perception Plate 2570 2007 Digital C-Type print 30 x 42 cm Courtesy of the artist and Visual Collection of Smith and Williamson, Birmingham
The unique selling point of Visual is that it gives businesses a low-risk route to acquiring, borrowing and commissioning work. Artistic quality, value for money and suitability for both commercial and domestic environments are all key considerations in the artist selection process, thus helping to remove possible concerns and subsequent barriers for clients. Visual clients include a diverse range of private & public sector organisations such as Ernst and Young, Aston Business School, Crosby Lend Lease, Catalyst Corporate Finance, City Inn, Smith & Williamson Investment Management, the BBC and Birmingham Women’s Hospital. Back in 2007, Aston Business School embarked on a creative journey through Visual, convinced that engagement with the arts was fundamental to achieving their vision for the School. Through Visual, they have commissioned three major works in the last three years, ‘Electron Stream’ and ‘Fire’ by Eryka Isaak and ‘Reverberations 1-5’ by Ruth Spaak. In addition to these commissions they have acquired a broad collection made up of photography, fine art and contemporary craft. The results of this visual arts programme have been spectacular, and the work has undoubtedly helped affirm the Aston Business School brand, demonstrating that it is an inspirational and transformational place of study, work and business.
Speaking of the partnership, Professor Michael West, Executive Dean at Aston Business School, comments: “The art work we have exhibited and commissioned for Aston Business School from Visual is intended to challenge while conveying excellence of craft, creativity, innovation and depth – the values we seek to incorporate in our research, learning and teaching, and our business engagement. The art works are also positive and dynamic, encouraging a sense of optimism, wonder and delight amongst those who come to our community. Working with Visual has enabled us to create an inspiring and innovative work environment in our Business School.” When investment management firm Smith and Williamson moved into their new offices in Birmingham, one of the challenges they faced was how to cover the blank walls. “Selecting art for an office is always a challenge, given you are working within a budget, and the works have to appeal to employees and visitors, all of whom vary enormously in age and taste,” explains Alex Reynolds, Associate Director at Smith & Williamson Investment Management. “We were fortunate to involve Arts & Business in these decisions at an early stage. They provided a huge range of options through Visual for us to select from. Once we had our initial thoughts, we were advised on what images would work together in style, subject and medium. We were even welcome to visit
one of the artist’s studios to view the works to ensure we were comfortable with them. In addition, we were then able to arrange for a second piece to be created to complement an existing image. Once we had made our choices, they ensured the frames and locations worked in the context of the office. All the images selected have been extremely well received by employees and clients.” Accountants Ernst & Young approached Arts & Business with a combined employee engagement and communityfocussed objective to support GCSE art students at one of their partner schools. An exciting bespoke Visual programme was put together which resulted in an exhibition at their offices as well as an artist-led series of workshops within the school. “The exhibition in our office provided a unique way to entertain clients, business contacts and alumni at the same time as showcasing the works of leading contemporary artists. Our staff were able to access a wide range of art online and many purchased pieces as a result,” says Ronnie Bowker, Senior Partner at Ernst & Young. “We also worked directly with one of the artists who ran a series of art workshops for our staff and for GCSE students at one of our partner schools. These proved very popular and rewarding for staff and feedback from students and teachers has been fantastic.” Whilst providing a valuable service to business, Visual also strives to provide its artists with an equally valuable service in the form of new business opportunities and routes to an audience they would not necessarily be able to reach on their own. It also gives them excellent profile in regions beyond those in which they live and unique networking opportunities. Numerous artists have had great success through Visual, developing ongoing relationships with business clients. An example of one such relationship is that of aforementioned Eryka Isaak and Aston Business School. An artist based in Birmingham, Isaak had already found routes to market with particular success in the domestic environment. Visual enabled her to work on her largest commission to date with the full support and expertise of the team. “My involvement with Visual began when I was commissioned to make a statement installation for the foyer of Aston Business School,” explains Isaak. “An artwork was required to be dramatic and engaging, to reflect the ethos of the school and its new energies for the world ahead. As a glass artist working in Birmingham for over ten years, I was experienced in creating works suitable for large spaces with the dynamism Professor West was looking for. Since becoming part of Visual I have been involved in numerous exhibitions that have resulted in sales and a number of subsequent sales have arisen specifically from my involvement with Aston Business School. I was commissioned to make the awards for the Jaguar Land Rover Awards for Arts and Business 2009, for example. I have, in short, received interesting and challenging commissions, sales, and incredible support from the Visual team. They have done a great job identifying businesses to whom my work appeals, and support me to make rewarding connections, benefiting all concerned.” www.visualforbusiness.com
Eryka Isaak Fire, 2009 Glass and stainless steel 120 x 140 cm Acquired by Aston Business School
Nadia Dooner is Deputy Regional Director for Arts & Business in the Midlands and Arts & Business Project Director for Art of Ideas. As part of her role, Nadia helps businesses to realise the value of arts-based interventions such as Creative Training, Organisational Development Consultancy and visual art in the workplace. Nadia’s client base includes Aston Business School, Jaguar Land Rover and E.on.
A selection of artists from the West Midlands whose works are available through Visual:
Working with themes of modernity, architecture and mythology, photographer David Rowan documents the changing city. His series ‘Pacha Kuti’ depicts the lesser-known underground infrastructure of the city and won the Best in Show prize at the 2007 Birmingham Open exhibition held at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. ‘Mass [future deleted]’ is a series of images of Masshouse Circus, a notorious 1960s road and subway system. A portfolio of this work is part of the permanent photographic archives of Birmingham. Rowan exhibited at the Arles International Photography Festival in France 2006.
Pepper’s work links jewellery, textiles and fine art. Her ongoing project ‘Book Keeping’ takes inspiration from stories and poems, often using old books in which to present the jewellery. Pepper graduated from the Birmingham School of Jewellery with a First BA (Hons) degree. She is an awardwinning artist and has exhibited both nationally and internationally including at Origin, the annual selected Crafts Council show in Chelsea, and at New Designers at the London Design and Business Centre. All of the work is wearable and pieces can be box-framed so that they can be wall mounted. The artist also works to commission.
Cattrell responds to the quality of light in landscapes using oils and watercolour in her paintings and in prints, etchings and monoprints. Trained at Duncan of Jordanstone, Dundee, and the Royal College of Art, London, she has exhibited widely in the UK and been commissioned by the MOD, Whitehall and the Leukaemia Centre, Birmingham. Her work has been acquired for the collections of the Scottish Arts Council, Phoenix Assurance Company and Reuters. The above painting, ‘Ochre Hill’ is a response to living alone in the Australian desert during a recent residency organised by the University of New South Wales.
‘Future Ruins’ explores the impact of the modern world on the urban environment, creating images of cityscapes transformed by technology and design. ‘Ultimate City’ is a model constructed 1/12 scale, using over 200 hand-cast and painted model TV sets arranged in a pyramid in front of a rear screen projection of real architecture. Lord featured in the International Festival of the Image, Aarhus Arts Festival, and exhibited at The Centre for Contemporary Culture, Barcelona in 2008. In 2010 she exhibited at the Australian Centre for Photography and the Kaunas Photo Festival in Lithuania. She has had eight solo shows to date.
Having studied Fine Art, Myfanwy Johns went on to complete PhD research in 2006 looking at applications of cutting-edge technology to develop ornamentation in architecture. She creates geometric repeat and one-off surface patterns that envelop and define architectural structures. Her explorations into surface design include working with historic pattern along with her own work to create new interpretations. Johns exhibits internationally including at the Museo Nacional del Grabado, Buenos Aires, IV Salón Internacional de Arte Digital, Habanna, Cuba, and Tracing Light at the Royal West of England Academy, Bristol.
Stuart Mills studied photography and film and has exhibited in a number of exhibitions in the Midlands. In this series of work, he captures urban environments after dark. Using long exposures (and no additional lighting) his images record transient occurrences that take place during the exposure, all but invisible in the photographs, though present nonetheless. These nocturnal images have been exhibited publicly in Birmingham and were well received. In his latest body of work, he has been exploring gum bichromate processes, which cut out the need for a dark room with interesting results.
Stephen Earl Rogers
Earl Rogers is a painter with a growing reputation, having been selected to exhibit at the BP Portrait Awards at the National Portrait Gallery six times in seven years, and invited to contribute work to a show marking the NPG’s 150th anniversary. His work has been sold through Sotheby’s and exhibited at Christie’s. He has also shown alongside Bridget Riley, Mark Quinn and Maggie Hambling in Glasgow.
Deepres has an international reputation for his film, photographic and digital media work, often motivated by themes of individual, national and patriotic identity. He has exhibited at Ikon Gallery, Cornerhouse, The Lowry and The Hatton Gallery. He often works on large-scale choreographic film and photographic pieces, commissioned by Sadler’s Wells, The Royal Opera House, Paris Opera House and La Scala.
Pamina Stewart creates sculptures from shells, referencing home craft and the mass-produced products of an increasingly globalised world. Reminiscent of objects from Victorian curiosity cabinets, some find the sculptures comical, others sinister. Verging on the kitsch, these unique and handcrafted beings are certainly surreal, with with one creature made from the former homes of many smaller creatures.
Somewhat unusually, Sandra Masterson uses soil in her paintings. Nature has always been a driving force in her work, and it seems a natural progression that she now uses soil almost exclusively as the pigment. Walking through changing landscapes and collecting soils as part of an “earth mapping” process has become central to her practice. Used as pigment on raw canvas, the soil particles wash and separate naturally. Regularly exhibited, Masterson’s work is often presented in series or grid formations. Arts Council England has funded some of her latest work.
The photogram is central to Jackson’s practice, which is concerned with fragility and transience, objects and meanings invested in them. His current work seeks to explore the early photographic experiments of Midlands pioneer Tom Wedgwood. “Unfixed sun pictures [...] are akin to living beings in their continuing reactions to their environment – developing, declining and finally disappearing, leaving their space in the image ecology for new images.” He exhibits widely including at the Lianzhou International Photo Festival China, International Festival of the Image, Birmingham and Rencontres d’Arles.
Photographer and filmmaker Keenan has a reputation for his missions with cameras. Working on a range of self-initiated and commissioned projects, a recent major project has involved trips to New Orleans, including to document the effects of Hurricane Katrina. With commissions from Southern Comfort and work published in Dazed and Confused, Vice, Blowback and Fused, other projects have taken Chris to Prague and Greece. In this image, Tom stands in front of his home, one of the last World War II prefabs in Moseley, Birmingham. It was one of the first to be given listed status in England.
Own Art: Live with the art you love
An Arts Council England scheme that makes art more affordable
GOT A PASSION FOR PAINTING OR A SERIOUS SCULPTURE HABIT? Mesmerised by moving image or tempted by textiles? Own Art could be just the thing to help you live with the art you love. Own Art is an Arts Council England initiative that makes it easy and affordable for almost everyone to collect contemporary art and craft. The scheme means that you no longer need a fat salary cheque to buy into the originals market, and the reality is that few of us can afford to splash out a couple of thousand on an artwork, no matter how much we desire it or want to support the artist. The scheme works by allowing customers to spread the cost of their purchase over ten months with the help of an interestfree loan. Loans are available from as little as £100 (or £10 per month) up to a maximum of £2,000 (£200 per month) and can be used for the purchase of work in any media – as long as it is original work by a living artist. If the piece that you’re after costs more than £2,000 then the loan can be used as part payment or you can select several lower value items to make up a total purchase of £2,000 or more. Buyers can choose from a range of contemporary art and craft including paintings, sculpture, photography, prints, glassware, ceramics, jewellery and furniture – in fact you can own almost anything by a living artist that can be purchased through the network of nearly 250 participating galleries in England and a further 40 in Scotland. Some galleries will even help you commission something unique by an artist you admire; simply ask if this option is available. The range of participating galleries is extensive, from major public institutions like BALTIC in Gateshead and the Whitechapel Gallery in London, to cutting-edge commercial galleries such as FRED, Rokeby and BISCHOFF/WEISS. In addition to this are independent spaces like The Drawing Room, Matt’s Gallery and Studio Voltaire in London, and rural ventures such as Wysing Arts Centre in Cambridgeshire and Fermynwoods Contemporary Art in Northamptonshire. Own Art has participating venues in each English region, with around 16 galleries from the West Midlands involved in the scheme, including the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists and Number 9 the Gallery in Birmingham, Bilston Craft Gallery, Galanthus Gallery, Hereford, The Gallery at Bevere, Worcester, and Visual from Arts & Business.
Despite the financial downturn, the appetite for investing in original works of art and craft is as healthy as ever The Own Art scheme was launched in 2004 when collecting contemporary art was beginning to enter the public psyche in a way it had never done before. The endorsement of artists by individuals like Charles Saatchi and the showcasing of their work by galleries such as White Cube made many into the household names they are today. It was commonplace to see grand displays of patronage reported regularly in the press but it was Own Art that provided the opportunity for people with more modest incomes to get a piece of the action. Despite the financial downturn, the appetite for investing in original works of art and craft is as healthy as ever. The power of a recession to influence the spending of money in more meaningful ways, on items which make a statement or which are more considered and personal, is quite understandable. Thanks to Own Art, collecting by members of the public has continued and customers using the scheme are as positive as ever. One, Susan Brock, said, “Own Art has not only enabled me to purchase something unique but it has made me more aware of wonderfully talented artists. My only problem now is trying to make a decision about what to purchase!” Own Art not only makes these considered investments possible but gives buyers the confidence to make their first leap into the market or to be more experimental – the option to select a price point which is manageable and then spread the cost is what is at the heart of this decision-making process. The scheme has even helped inspire people who would usually have little or no engagement with art to get involved – important for the future of the visual arts ecology and nurturing the next generation of patrons. After all, as the recent publication Art Buyers and Art as an Investment reported, most of those collecting art described it as “a gradual habit which had been built up over several years, often starting at low price points and increasing as their own wealth built over time”. Collectors using Own Art might sometimes be quieter and less public; their purchases a series of smaller investments rather than a big bang, but their contribution provides valuable
support and endorsement for artists and galleries. Since 2004 over £8 million worth of income has been generated for artists through nearly 17,000 loans valued at £13 million. Galleries have felt the benefit too with 40% of Own Art members stating that the scheme had a significant impact on their business for the year 2009/10. Claire Haylor at Number 9 the Gallery, Birmingham, has seen “a significant rise in new customers visiting the gallery because they have heard we run the scheme”. In fact, sales made through galleries operating Own Art topped nearly £3 million last year – a record-breaking result.
Studio Voltaire Print Portfolio 2006 Published by Studio Voltaire, London, in an edition of 70. The set contains individually signed and numbered works by: Spartacus Chetwynd, Jeremy Deller, Matthew Higgs, Nils Norman, Joanne Tatham & Tom O’Sullivan, Mark Titchner, and Donald Urquhart. Price: £1,500 (excluding P&P) Available through Own Art in 10 monthly installments of £150 Images copyright of the artists and Studio Voltaire
So, if all this talk of buying art has whetted your appetite then why not start looking for that special piece today? Make sure you visit as many galleries as you can so you can build up an understanding of your likes and dislikes. Ask questions and be inquisitive – find out as much as you can about what interests you and choose something you’re passionate about! Once you’ve made your selection in the Own Art gallery of your choice simply take advantage of the scheme, go home and live with the art you love! www.ownart.org.uk You can also use Own Art online through selected galleries by visiting: www.culturelabel.com
Helen Bonar is the Officer for Own Art at Arts Council England.
Jamaica, Birmingham, London The paintings of Hurvin Anderson
“THERE’S A SENSE IN THE WHOLE WORK THAT ONE’S MIND IS ELSEWHERE, THAT EVEN THOUGH I’M HERE, MY MIND IS SOMEWHERE ELSE,” SAID HURVIN ANDERSON ON THE OCCASION OF NEW PAINTINGS, his first solo show at the Thomas Dane Gallery in London in 2005. The ambivalence of this position wasn’t only a reflection of the works featured in the exhibition, a group of six paintings and works on paper examining the cultural and architectural links between British and West Indian urban parks and interiors; it can be used also to describe Anderson’s own identity as well as the spirit that informs his practice as a whole. London-based Anderson was born in Birmingham in 1965 to a family that came to the UK from Jamaica. After attending the Foundation course at the Birmingham Polytechnic, he moved to London in 1991 to study at the Wimbledon School of Art and the Royal College of Art, where amongst his tutors was Peter Doig. Doig’s influence on Anderson can hardly be overestimated. Like Anderson, Doig has a complex relationship with his native country, being born in Scotland and raised in different parts of the world, including Canada and Trinidad and Tobago, before settling in the UK in the late 70s, only to move back to the Caribbean in the late 1990s. This sense of perennial geographical displacement, along with an interest in history and the decision to take up painting at a time when the majority of his contemporaries were into a more radical if not confrontational mode, were at the core of Anderson’s exhibition at Thomas Dane. His paintings were moving across the line that separates abstraction from realism; based on snapshots taken by the artist himself, they were beautifully made but not decorative, emanating a tension that stemmed from their representation of the contradiction of public leisure areas haunted by their colonial past. The grids of colour covering some of his subjects, as in the ‘Welcome Series’ (2004), proved to be particularly disconcerting. Attractive through their formal design, they were nothing other than the chicken wire fences that often surround the perimeter of these facilities in the West Indies, instilling questions of private protection and social separation.
Anderson pushed his investigation even further with ‘Peter’s Series’ (2007-2009), a group of paintings about a small attic converted into a barbershop where his father used to go to get a trim and socialize. Such places, which Anderson describes as “secret meeting halls”, were quite a regular destination for the Caribbean community in the UK in the 1950s. “One day I went to pick up my father after his haircut. While I was waiting for him, I took some photographs,” explained Anderson to the Studio Museum in Harlem’s director Thelma Golden at the time of his first New York solo show there in 2009. “The barbershop became such a complex and ambiguous space that I felt compelled to return again and again. I was initially intrigued because there was much to uncover; the space had a curious history.” Initially very detailed, as if to capture the essence of the attic, the series subsequently took an interesting developmental curve by becoming much more abstract, only to resurface again in a third form, this time entirely painted from memory, without photographic sources. If the earlier paintings captured the character of a place through a stylized but faithful depiction of the actual scene, the recent paintings are an indication of how Anderson feels personally involved with his subject. By reconstructing the place from memory, he has depicted the relationship of the customers with their native land as well as using them as a filter to explore his own. Anderson’s desire to revisit the shop in his mind posed him another challenge that he was only too happy to take on – the introduction of a human presence in his work. The solitary figure at the centre of ‘Peter’s Series: Back’ (2008) turns his head to the viewer, and seems to float in a space that is alien to him and yet strangely familiar. The set of recognizable objects that qualify the place as a barbershop, like a radio or a mirror, are kept to a minimum, and the man on the chair becomes the real protagonist of the scene, shifting the attention from the space’s history to his relationship with it. The choice of thinly painted delicate colours, such as cobalt blue and translucent white, adds an atmosphere of serenity
Left: Lower Lake, 2005 Oil on canvas 150 x 256 cm © Hurvin Anderson Courtesy of Thomas Dane Gallery, London
Peter’s Series: Back, 2008 Oil on canvas 187 x 147 cm © Hurvin Anderson Courtesy Thomas Dane Gallery, London, and Fern and Leonard Tessler, USA
Left: Untitled, 2009 Acrylic on plywood 110 x 176 cm © Hurvin Anderson Courtesy of Thomas Dane Gallery, London
Country Club, 2003 Oil on canvas 150 x 238 cm © Hurvin Anderson Courtesy Thomas Dane Gallery, London
and intimacy that leaves the viewer feeling almost like an intrusive presence. At the same time, they convey a sense of fragility and temporality, or, as Roberta Smith wrote in her art column for the New York Times, they depict “a place, shot through with a gentle melancholy, where we have all been at one point or another.” It’s a feeling that finds further evidence in Anderson’s decision to focus on the same subject through a number of canvases and papers – a technique that suggests the absence of a single, authoritative view in favour of a more fully rounded, multi-faceted approach. In the space of just a few years, Anderson’s career has rocketed. In addition to exhibitions at Thomas Dane in 2005 and 2008 and his show at the Studio Museum in Harlem, Anderson has also had solo exhibitions at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, Anthony Meier Fine Art in San Francisco and Tate Britain. He has also exhibited works at venues including The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, The Saatchi Gallery in London, Leicester Museum, and the Mead Gallery at the University of Warwick. Complex and seductive, Anderson’s visual interpretations of interiors and landscapes speak a universal language. Their precarious temporal and geographical balance, together with the constant search for places of personal resonance, generates a subtle but powerful wave of energy that affects even the most detached viewer. www.thomasdane.com
Michele Robecchi is a curator and writer based in London. Former Managing Editor of Flash Art (2000-2004) and Senior Editor at Contemporary (2005-2007), he is currently an editor of contemporary art publications at Phaidon Press and a Visiting Lecturer at Christie’s Education.
The talented Mr. Risley
An interview with gallerist David Risley
EMANATING FROM THE WEST MIDLANDS, Copenhagen-based gallerist David Risley made his name on the London commercial gallery scene during the Noughties. Coline Milliard caught up with him to find out about his life as a gallerist.
Henry Krokatsis, Good Hiding, 2001 Wood, rubber Courtesy David Risley Gallery, Copenhagen
Dexter Dalwood, Altamont, 2007 Oil on Canvas, 210 x 174 cm Courtesy David Risley Gallery, Copenhagen
Coline Milliard: What was the first artwork you sold? David Risley: It was a piece by Roderick Harris. CM: Were you already a gallerist? DR: Not really. The first space I had was above a bookshop, just off Charing Cross Road. I had done a couple of shows up there already, project-based kinds of thing, and I had studied in Bath with Ricky who had then just finished at the RCA. We decided to do a solo show; the first sale was to Jay Joplin. CM: Not bad for a first buyer! Was this the trigger to move on from the bookshop to the gallery? DR: I suppose that was part of it, or mainly it. I had started to work full-time in the bookshop. They said I could use the empty space upstairs but that I would have no more time and no more money to do the art shows. So I had to do them during my breaks and lunch hours. It was then that I started to realise that art was sellable, but I really didn’t have a clue what that meant or how to do it. CM: You opened your own gallery in 2003. How did it feel to move on from something that was project-based to a gallery proper?
“I was really confused: what they called commercial didn’t sell” DR: It felt quite natural really, kind of inevitable. I had done a few very successful shows in the bookshop. I remember a piece by Henry Krokatsis (who I still work with), a shed with a parquet floor. We had to build a steam box on the roof to bend the wood; it was a really elaborate installation. I sold it to a museum collection the day the exhibition opened, and the bookshop got all the money and all the kudos. Afterwards, I did a show of small paintings. I thought it would be quite an easyto-sell exhibition, but I didn’t sell a thing. Then I had this weird meeting with the bookshop people saying that we should do more commercial shows, like the painting show, and less of these other shows … I was really confused: what they called commercial didn’t sell. I tried to argue that what they meant was not “more commercial” but “more conservative”. We had a fight and I left. After that, I really had to do it on my own. Victoria Miro invited me to curate a one-off show in the space next door to her gallery, where Parasol Unit is now. I did this weird big exhibition called Love and that was the first time I met some proper collectors. CM: Do you think this show played an important part in the way you developed afterwards? DR: Definitely. CM: I imagine that the more collectors you meet, the easier it becomes to meet others. DR: Yes, they tend to go in packs.
CM: You must now have collectors following the gallery and your artists. Would you say that, in some way, you play a role in terms of shaping collections? DR: It has changed a lot. In the past, when things were much more physical, it might have been true. But now that everybody has access to websites, email, images, art fairs, I’m not sure that people focus so much on a gallery the way they used to. Some of the bigger galleries definitely have “their collectors”, they manage their collections and all that, but I don’t think it works that way for the more emerging art, the kind of things I do. True, there are a few collectors who buy one or two things a year, and they might always come to me because I’m the only gallery they know or because we get on well, but collectors now have much more control. They don’t need to be led by the hand by a gallery. CM: A year after you started the gallery, you founded Zoo Art Fair together with Soraya Rodriguez. Was it a sort of antiFrieze? DR: It was never done against Frieze, but in conjunction, in parallel with it. CM: It did though, unlike Frieze at the time, show emerging spaces and even not-for-profit structures. DR: The first year, Zoo Art Fair just included London-based galleries. It started with the idea that the very good London collectors, people like Charles Saatchi or Anita Zabludowicz, could at once find all these out-of-the-way spaces, located in Hackney or South London. And I think they immediately understood that this fair was a chance to see something a bit more raw. We also knew that visitors from abroad, if they were only in London for a couple of days, wouldn’t have time to see all these great young spaces. The only way for them to see all this was to get everybody under one roof. Zoo was about giving the smaller galleries access to these visitors, it was about giving them a stage. CM: There are two obvious types of collector: private collectors and institutions. Are you trying to keep a balance? DR: It’s changing now, but a lot of dealers used to talk about “placing” a work, not about selling it … This, of course, is nonsense. You can’t just decide that you’re going to sell to museums. If you are dealing with a massively successful painter who only makes eight or ten paintings a year, and if you know a year in advance that they will sell, then yes, you can “place” the works, but by the time artists get to that level, they already have museum interest. You can’t just say: “that, that and that will go to museums, that and that to big private collectors, and that we keep for someone off the street”. You can’t. You just try to sell the work as well as you can. CM: To come back to your artists, you’ve been working with some of them for quite a while. Would you say that you have a gallery style? DR: I think that it may have changed over time. When I started, the whole gallery was basically me and a group of mates. It was all based on friendship and mutual respect. Then things
became more fragmented. CM: How would you qualify your role, or your responsibility to the artists you work with? DR: It varies with each one. I’ve just done something with Dexter Dalwood for example. My responsibility to him is obviously very different than it would be to someone just out of art school. Dexter is a very established artist, he’s represented by Gagosian, he’s in some great museums, he’s nominated for the Turner Prize ... My responsibility and my role with him is very different than giving someone a first solo show. It really depends on the artist, what they need at that point of their career and what they are looking for. CM: Recently, you made an exhibition where you invited a painter, who in turn invited a painter who invited a painter and so on … You seem keen to keep the gallery open to new artists.
We way overdid it. It was great at the time, but we got so entrenched into it. Now, I’ve really cut back to two or three art fairs a year, Rotterdam, Basel and London. CM: How do you look back on your gallery’s development? DR: Major shifts happened. By moving to Copenhagen, I really wanted to get back to being in the gallery a lot more, I wanted a simpler space to deal with, less paperwork. My space is much smaller now, I can ask an artist to do a show much sooner and react much more quickly to what I see.
“The progress of the gallery should be about making better shows, not about having a bigger space”
DR: Yes, and that was a big part of moving to Copenhagen.
CM: Did you feel that you were getting too big in London?
CM: How different is the art scene over there?
DR: We had five full-time staff and a fairly big space. I didn’t feel that I was involved as much as I had been; it had become more of an operation. Suddenly things were self-fulfilling. It’s the same with all business, it runs itself to an extent: you do a few successful shows and you think, “I’d better get a bigger space”, you get a bigger space and it gets busier, and you think, “I need more staff”, you get more staff, and then you think, “I need a bigger office”, and then you move again. This has nothing to do with what you want – or at least, nothing to do with what I wanted – but it seems like an irresistible force. Of course you should get bigger, of course you should grow. This idea of constant growth, growth for the sake of growth, is what runs capitalism. But it has nothing to do with quality. The progress of the gallery should be about making better shows, not about having a bigger space. So my development was to simplify everything. In a way, it’s a backward step but one that allows me to be much more engaged.
DR: It’s completely different. It’s very good, but super quiet. In London, there are so many art worlds. How many major art schools have we got? Slade, the Royal College, the Royal Academy, Goldsmiths … Each one of these is an art world in itself. Tate also has its own world, so has the Lisson, and Gagosian, and then you have all these different galleries which have different things around them. These worlds don’t cross over very much, a bit of course, but not that much. In Copenhagen, it’s one art world, it’s pretty small. Saying that, it really punches above its weight. There are an incredible number of international artists coming out of here and many international-standard galleries and museums. It’s disproportionate to how big the city is, but it’s great. CM: How would you describe the role of a dealer? Is it again a case-by-case, sale-by-sale scenario? DR: For me, being a gallerist is very different from being a dealer. It encompasses all kinds of roles: caring is a big part of it, giving time and space, editing, trying to sell, providing emotional support … It’s a pretty weird job. CM: What’s your normal day? Do you have a normal day?
CM: To finish, what would be your advice to someone starting a gallery? DR: Show what you love, and get a good bookkeeper! www.davidrisleygallery.com
DR: No, I wish I did! Usually, I get to the gallery at about ninethirty or ten and get on with all the lists I’ve got. Somehow, I try to sell a bit of art and try to show it … but it really changes all the time. It depends on the rhythm of the year. CM: How many shows a year do you do? DR: That changes as well, but at the moment, we’re aiming for about seven or eight shows. There was a time a few years ago when we did eight art fairs a year. And that takes a lot of time: the preparation, deciding what to show, getting it ready, marketing it, getting in touch with people, packing it, shipping it, getting there, staying there and then getting back, following up with potential buyers, all this while trying to run the gallery.
Coline Milliard is a writer and critic based in London. She is UK Editor for Modern Painters and founding co-editor of www.cataloguemagazine.com. Her writing is regularly published in Art Monthly, Art Review and Art Press. She has also written for MAP, Artnet Magazine, Contemporary, Flash Art International, Untitled, Metropolis M, Frieze, Afterall Online, Numéro and Art in America.
Meet the collectors
An insight into four private collections
Siobhan Whitley & Adam Searle
Cambridge-based couple Adam and Siobhan started collecting together in 2008, although Siobhan had been buying the occasional piece by local artists since the turn of the millennium. They sometimes buy works directly from artists, though have recently been purchasing from commercial galleries. To date, their collection of around a dozen works is exclusively composed of paintings in oil and acrylic, with the majority by Birminghambased painter Graham Chorlton. Speaking of his favourite piece by Chorlton, ‘Garage’, Adam asserts, “Graham has taken a view of a petrol station on the Bristol Road in Birmingham and turned it into something ethereal and otherworldly. It’s a view I know well from my late teenage years as it’s right opposite a curry house in Selly Oak where we used to end up after a few pints in the local. Graham has transformed a typical suburban view into an object of beauty that reminds me of my youth and old friends, and the special sentiment that I will always feel for Birmingham.” First and foremost, Adam and Siobhan take pleasure in having beautiful and unique works of art on their walls, though they also enjoy the social aspects of collecting. “It’s great meeting artists and being invited along to the private views,” says Siobhan, “there’s usually an array of sociable and interesting people to chat to at these events.” Adam, an IT specialist, adds, “And it beats a night out talking about computing.”
Paul Cooney is a Midlands-based collector who began collecting works around the turn of the millennium, and was inspired, in part, by the first edition of the New Art Birmingham exhibition and festival. One of his first original works, bought at New Art Birmingham, was a drawing by Kate Raggett, to which he was attracted as it reminded him of a trip to Switzerland in his teens. “This was a breakthrough,” he says, “in that I had been keen to buy originals but lacked knowledge and confidence. NAB provided the impetus for expanding my collection.” Since then he has acquired around 70 works through galleries, art fairs, auctions and the Visual service, and likes to buy directly from artists whenever possible, not least because he enjoys meeting them in person. Along with prints by prominent international figures such as Paolozzi and Christo, Paul has purchased works by emerging artists, including those from the West Midlands such as Ross Jones and Ben McPhee, from whom he has now bought several pieces. His preferred media are original drawings, paintings, limited edition prints and glassware. Speaking of his motivation for buying works, Paul comments, “It’s the pleasure of having the pieces to look at. There is also the knowledge that my purchases have made a contribution to rewarding talent. I feel that buying art speculatively, hoping it will appreciate in value, is a pointless activity. Buy work which gives pleasure and if it subsequently appreciates then that’s a bonus.”
Image: Graham Chorlton, Garage, 2008 Oil and acrylic on canvas, 122 x 152.4 cm Courtesy the artist and Master Piper, London. Photo: Alex Minchin
Image: Kate Raggett, Pisac, Peru, 2008 Ink on paper, 53 x 59 cm Courtesy the artist
David Rowan PK808 from the ‘Pacha Kuti’ series, 2006 C-Type photographic print 45.7 x 61 cm (excluding frame) Edition of 10 (second edition) Courtesy the artist
Sarah Gee Moseley-based Sarah Gee is Managing Partner of Indigo Ltd., a consultancy specialising in the arts and cultural sector. She and her husband started an art fund when they got married rather than having a wedding gift list. Some of their first purchases included works by Christopher Le Brun and Robert Ryan. One of their favourite pieces by an artist from the West Midlands is a photograph by David Rowan, entitled ‘PK808’, which they had seen at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s open submission exhibition The Birmingham Open in 2007. Rowan’s photograph had won a prize in the exhibition and soon after they discovered the print was available for sale through Visual, so decided to purchase the piece. They have since acquired pieces from The Multiple Store through the Own Art scheme, by
artists including Dan Hays, Fiona Banner and Simon Periton. Sarah likes “having something different to what other people have on their walls,” carrying on to explain, “I also feel that there is a connection forged with the artist on some level, in appreciating their work and being stimulated enough to have it in your home.” While collecting art can be expensive, Sarah suggests that many affordable works are around too – it’s just a question of knowing where to look or taking the time to explore. Having been a collector for several years, she has much more confidence than when she first began. She recollects “a fear of being judged on what you’ve bought” and is grateful to the Visual scheme from Arts & Business for enabling her to build her confidence and knowledge. “The artists and pieces have been selected by sector professionals. It’s a kind of stamp of approval already in place.”
Leigh Message & Maxine Leslau London-based collectors Leigh Message and Maxine Leslau have been collecting art together for around three years, during which time they have already acquired well over 60 works. While they sometimes buy works from auctions or direct from artists, more often than not they purchase works from degree shows, in part because they are members of a group called The Exchange, which is run by the University of Arts, London. Along with other members, they share thoughts and knowledge about works they like or have acquired from recent graduates. In their collection are works by artists from the West Midlands including Hurvin Anderson, Ruth Claxton and Gillian Wearing. “We sometimes purchase works by the same artist, but once any artist becomes established and with a gallery, we focus on new graduates,” explains Leigh. The friends recently acquired two pieces by London-based artist James Laycock from the Chelsea BA degree show – an antiques dealer who uses old furniture to make new and curious works. As well as collecting art because it is thought provoking and pleasurable, as housewives, both Leigh and Maxine enjoy having the works around them. “It looks fantastic in our homes,” says Leigh. “All the work is hung between our two houses and we move them between ourselves from time to time.” While they have no ambitions to own an important collection, it is already noteworthy and they have received several requests to lend works to exhibitions. Leigh comments, “We love what we buy, we enjoy relationships with most of the artists whose work we buy, and we’re happy to see their careers develop.” Image: James Laycock, Her Indoors, 2010 Reclaimed woods, formica, bakelite, doorbell LEDs 45 x 60 x 8 cm approx. Courtesy the artist
The Witching Hour
An exhibition of dark things for Art of Ideas
Featuring photography, painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, printmaking, film and animation, the exhibition includes internationally renowned artists such as Gillian Wearing, Idris Khan, George Shaw, Hurvin Anderson, Richard Billingham and Roger Hiorns, along with some of the most exciting emerging artists from the region, including Tessa Farmer, Stuart Whipps, Juneau Projects and Harminder Singh Judge. In a series of large photographic prints entitled ‘Immortals’, exhibited here for the first time, artist Toby de Silva presents skeletons that have been dressed in extraordinarily ornate clothing and posed as if mannequins on chaises longues. Brightly illuminated amidst darkness, the images are both arresting and disturbing. While they could well be scenes from a horror film in which the skeletons suddenly spring to life, they are actually images of holy relics from a crypt in a church in Germany, photographed in 2010.
Toby de Silva Immortals (St. Alexander), 2010 Digital C-Type print, 100 x 70 cm Courtesy the artist
AS PART OF THIS EDITION OF ART OF IDEAS, BIRMINGHAM MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY’S WATERHALL IS HOSTING AN EXHIBITION THAT EXPLORES DARKNESS AND DARK THEMES IN THE WORK OF MORE THAN 20 ARTISTS FROM, or based in, Birmingham and the West Midlands. The exhibition is curated by artist, critic and broadcaster Matthew Collings and writer, editor and curator Matt Price. Supposedly the time of night when strange things happen, the witching hour is often associated with the supernatural, witchcraft and folklore. These associations surface in the exhibition in the form of baroque skeletons, night-time graveyards, macabre fighting insects, shadowy figures, ghoulish faces and ritualistic paraphernalia. But it is also an exhibition about something perhaps even more unsettling: the darkness that pervades everyday life, whether in the architecture of an abandoned factory, a rundown 1970s housing estate, an after-hours hairdresser’s or in people’s own homes. It is an exhibition about the disconcerting, strange and uncanny that exist in our built environment, our social fabric and sometimes purely in our own minds.
The theme of death also features in a work by celebrated artist and former Turner Prize nominee Richard Billingham in the form of an autumnal cemetery at night. Part of a series of night-time works produced by the artist in the Black Country in the West Midlands, this particular image could also be from a horror film, full of the mystery and drama that tombstones and shadows can combine to convey. The Christian theme is continued still further in a work by Grand Union studio holder David Miller, entitled ‘Congregation’. The work, which consists of four photograms, shows shadowy silhouettes of people’s heads and shoulders, as if passport photos for the afterlife. Alongside Miller’s macabre portraits, fellow Grand Union studio holder Harminder Singh Judge’s ‘Self-portrait after Kali and Gene’ presents a ghoulish image of his own face, painted so as to appear like the demon-like Hindu goddess Kali and Gene Simmons, the face-painted frontman of legendary rock band Kiss. Face paint is also a component in Faye Claridge’s beautiful if disconcerting series of portraits of Morris dancers, ‘Only A Stranger Can Bring Good Luck, Only A Known Man Can Hang’. In addition to works that address the themes of darkness, esoterics and strangeness through portraiture are a number of pieces that investigate ideas associated with the architectural uncanny – the properties of buildings and the built environment that can intimidate, unsettle or seem peculiar. In the photographs of David Rowan, the old printing factory of the Birmingham Post and Mail is charged with cinematic drama and melancholy. The photographs have something in common with the paintings of George Shaw, a certain air of sadness mixed with architecture from a past generation
Richard Billingham Untitled from the series ‘Black Country’, 2003 Colour lightjet print 110.5 x 136 cm Copyright the artist Courtesy Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London
that has seen better days. Shaw’s paintings are often of parts of Coventry you would not like to be caught alone in late at night, yet, as with Billingham’s ‘Black Country’ series, have something familiar, poetic and beautiful as well as their more threatening, sinister dimension. The strangeness of buildings can even be found in people’s homes, suggested in the exhibition by works by Ravi Deepres and Chris Keenan, the former through a suburban house covered in Union flags, the latter by means of a homeowner in front of his prefab house – a home that has long outlived its life expectancy like something from an urban fairy tale. From the odd in the everyday to the decidedly supernatural, The Witching Hour is an exhibition that reveals the darker side of artists from Birmingham and the West Midlands. The Witching Hour will be on show throughout Art of Ideas at Waterhall, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Almost all of the works are available for sale, and many can be purchased using the Own Art interest-free loan scheme.
Matt Price is a writer, editor and curator based in Birmingham and London. Former Managing Editor of Flash Art and Deputy Editor of Art Review, he has also written for magazines including a-n, Art Monthly, Frieze and Modern Painters. He has recently curated exhibitions at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, Plan B Gallery in Berlin and Master Piper, London, and has been invited to curate an exhibition of British painting at the next Prague Biennale. He has edited publications on figures including Ai Weiwei and Herzog & de Meuron, Gerhard Richter, Joep Van Lieshout, the Campana Brothers, David Adjaye, Justin Mortimer, and Jitish Kallat.
Where appearance and reality dissolve The work of Gillian Wearing
Self Portrait at 17 Years Old, 2003 C-Type print 115.5 x 92 cm Courtesy Maureen Paley, London
GILLIAN WEARING HAS A LIFELONG CONNECTION WITH THE WEST MIDLANDS REGION, HAVING BEEN BORN AND RAISED IN NORTH BIRMINGHAM, where her family still live today. In 2001 she was invited to take part in an exhibition entitled Birmingham at Ikon, a gallery which she respects and remembers as being the key contemporary arts space during her youth. At the age of 19, due to high unemployment during the 1980s, Wearing left her home city to seek work in London. After four years’ employment in an animation company, she was inspired to study at art school, successfully progressing through Chelsea School of Art and Goldsmiths. It wasn’t long before she was a Turner Prize winner, having been awarded the prestigious prize in 1997. Represented by respected London gallerist Maureen Paley, today Wearing is an internationally acclaimed artist. 64
Family History 2006 Production still Video for projection: 35 minutes 32 seconds 16mm film transferred to DVD for monitor: 2 minutes 52 seconds Production Still © David Pearson Courtesy Film and Video Umbrella, and Maureen Paley, London
Observation is critical to Wearing’s work. She observes people as a part of a process of discovery and exploration, working from the outset to challenge preconceived cultural ideas and assumed social truths, and in turn gaining new knowledge about herself. Wearing observes the world through a lens, working with both the medium of still photography and film/ video. Strong conceptual ambitions provide the creative foundations for her artistic direction in both media, moving between two distinct approaches of staged and documentarybased works. On occasion, Wearing allows these approaches to collide, as in her recent series of self-portraits, in which she restages key moments from her personal history, revisiting familiar family snapshots. But what result are not pictures from the usual family albums, as in order to create them she literally climbs under a silicone skin to assume the identity of her relatives, all recaptured to same level of painstaking detail as in the original photographs, from the exact moment the shutter opened for the first time many years before. To complete the transformation, technical perfection is of paramount importance; rigorous attention is observed throughout, from the balance of colours to a faithful recreation of the original artifacts in the scene. Every element contributes to a curious reincarnation of the original sitter, both believable and yet disconcerting. It’s a series of works that question the reality and truth of images, as well as the agendas behind an image, its subject and its maker.
Wearing enters into an active relationship with her works and the people who participate in them. Under Wearing’s direction and guidance the subjects of her lens are empowered to explore their own emotional frames of reference. There is a often a feeling within the works that a connection has been made, however short-lived, between the artist and the participant, and nowhere is this more clear than in ‘Confess all on Video’ (1994), a series of video-based works in which Wearing filmed people who had responded to an advertisement she placed in Time Out. With their faces disguised, the participants were filmed confessing to things that normally they wouldn’t. In many ways this was a development of an idea from a work produced in 1992-93 entitled ‘Signs that say what you want them to say and not Signs that say what someone else wants you to say’, in which the artist approached people on the street and invited them to write any message they wanted on a card which they would then hold up to the camera. It was a most interesting undertaking with surprisingly honest, unexpected and meaningful, rather than glib, responses. When a television advert for the Volkswagen Golf came out with more than a passing resemblance to Wearing’s work, the artist threatened legal action against advertising giants DDB (formally BMP DDB), who created the advert on behalf of their clients Volkswagen. The resulting widespread media attention and coverage of Wearing’s legal investigations expanded the
Broad Street, 2001 Video still 5 screen colour DVD projection with sound Courtesy Maureen Paley, London
dialogue for contemporary art, engaging public support for, and understanding of, the value of ideas, intellectual property and ownership. The VW campaign may now be long gone and forgotten, but Wearing’s work is archived and remembered for future generations. Wearing’s relationship to the media is symbiotic, referencing reality TV shows such as Big Brother while demonstrating her understanding of the candid documentary filmmaking style of the 1970s. Wearing builds on the visual and psychological language of today’s reality TV, developing this familiar vocabulary within the body of her artwork, most notably in ‘Family History’ (2006), which actually featured television presenter Trisha Goddard interviewing a woman called Heather, who had herself been the subject of a television documentary about families as a child in the 1970s. The work was presented, in association with Ikon, in an apartment in Birmingham city centre in 2006. It was a work that in some ways followed up on the realism Wearing had captured in a film made as part of the Birmingham exhibition at Ikon Gallery some five years earlier. The escapism and romance experienced by weekend revellers (factory, office and young professionals alike), was explored by Wearing in ‘Broad Street’ (2001), a frank, brave and epic study of Birmingham’s “Golden Mile”. Shot over an intense period of Saturday nights and Sunday mornings, the weekend production schedule pitted both artist and assistants in direct confrontation with the uninhibited inhabitants of an often unpredictable, alcohol-fuelled urban-planned recreational landscape. Resulting in a lively contemporary narrative, Wearing’s film could easily transpose itself to other major cities and towns. Presented through large-scale video projections Wearing created a platform from which to observe transient pleasure, hedonism and fleeting acts of violence. Just an average night out for its participants, ‘Broad Street’ won critical acclaim when exhibited to audiences in the UK and across the Atlantic in Chicago.
The work of Gillian Wearing is intrinsically entwined with people, their everyday worlds and individual relationships. From the banal to the sublime, ideas around perception are stretched, relaxed and condensed. On the surface people appear as mere objects within the work, like CCTV footage of a crime scene about to unfold or an anthropological documentary study. Indeed people are objects in Wearing’s work but it extends far beyond the physical into the psychological and emotional. The central focus of the individual as object leads towards a shift in perception, engaging (even captivating) the viewer through a compassionate reading and ultimately introspective understanding of our own personal and professional worlds, lives and relationships. Internal and external personas are examined in acute detail; boundaries between appearance and reality dissolve, personal histories documented as fiction and vice versa merging into a rich emotional portrait of linguistics, actions and behaviour. Through constant questioning of the human condition, an air of playfulness and danger, and a sincere empathy with her participants and her audience, Wearing has positioned herself as an artist whose career has far superseded her early connections with the Young British Artists (YBAs), with sustained creative brilliance and longevity in the future – a full length feature film entitled ‘Self Made’ is on its way. www.maureenpaley.com
David Osbaldestin is Deputy Course Director for the BA (Hons) in Visual Communication in the School of Visual Communication at Birmingham City University. He has a wide-ranging role at BCU, teaching within Graphic Communication, researching and project management. His most ambitious project since joining the University in 2001 is ‘The Baskerville Project’, an animated movie that celebrates the life and work of Birmingham’s John Baskerville, who revolutionized printing technology and typographical design in the 18th century.
Contemporary Art Society 100 not out
SINCE ITS FORMAL FOUNDATION IN 1910, THE CONTEMPORARY ART SOCIETY HAS ACTED AS A CATALYST FOR THE VISUAL ARTS OF THIS COUNTRY, DEVELOPING AUDIENCES, ARTISTS, CURATORS, COLLECTORS AND COLLECTIONS ALIKE. For a century it has been a pioneering organisation, shaping and in turn being shaped by the dramatically shifting cultural landscape. The Contemporary Art Society engages in a number of activities around its core mission of developing the widest audience for contemporary art and supporting contemporary art collections and collectors in the UK. Its foundation as a members’ society was the template on which many museum and gallery Friends and Patron schemes were based. Its programme of events was ground breaking, providing talks, exhibition tours and artist-led events for audiences unfamiliar with modern art in the early decades of the 20th century, and supplementing this with international travel to biennials and art fairs from the 1950s onwards. In the 1980s, the Contemporary Art Society launched the first contemporary art fair in Britain and now engages, through special event programmes, with the multiplicity of art fairs that have sprung up across the country since. It has continued to devise innovative new ways of working with the private and public sectors. The creation of a formal Consultancy division has extended the reach of its independent expertise to businesses and organisations whose normal activities take place outside the art world, showing the benefits that relationships with artists, and art works, can bring. The Contemporary Art Society is perhaps best known for its visionary role in the development of public collections of contemporary art. The legacy is considerable: around 8,000 works distributed to many collections and institutions, large and small, and enjoyed by diverse audiences in their millions. Some of these artworks are gifts and bequests from generous private collectors who call upon the autonomy and knowledge of the Contemporary Art Society to find the most suitable home for individual works within public collections. Other works are purchased specifically for collections – a process which is administered as The Acquisition Scheme. Over a four-year cycle, curators from each of 63 art and 30 craft Museum Members collaborate with the Contemporary Art Society in the research and purchase of works to augment existing collections. It has always been the policy to purchase the work of artists in the early stages of their careers and the Contemporary Art Society is proud to have bought and gifted the first Picasso for a public collection in the UK, as well
as the first Gauguin, Francis Bacon and Damien Hirst. Such foresight has contributed to an unrivalled reputation for being “ahead of the curve”. As well as working together around acquisitions, arts professionals can join the Contemporary Art Society’s National Network to gain access to professional development including national and international research trips, symposia, skills events and an Annual Conference. Via these forums, the Network enters the debate around growing, sustaining and utilising public collections of contemporary art. Building on the strengths of this programme, the Contemporary Art Society has been invited to develop a curatorial network in the West Midlands. Individuals from over 20 arts organisations across the region are participating with the long-term intention of establishing a sustainable network that will build knowledge and capacity in the region particularly within those institutions that are developing their collections of contemporary art. Those organisations involved include: Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery; The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry; Ikon Gallery, Birmingham; The Mead Gallery, Warwick; The New Art Gallery, Walsall; Wolverhampton Art Gallery. By joining forces, curators will share their research experiences and find new ways of working together and forming partnerships. The Contemporary Art Society has devised the programme and will lead the research trips, which are planned to yield valuable new programming models that will have an excellent long-term impact on the development of temporary exhibitions and dynamic use of collections. The last 12 months have seen the launch of two other significant regional initiatives by the Contemporary Art Society. Using the model of membership schemes and event programmes that have run so successfully in London over the past century, two new posts have been created, based in the North West and North East of England, with a remit to develop contemporary art collectors there. These pilot schemes come on the back of research commissioned by the Arts Council into the contemporary art market in England. In their 2004 report, Taste Buds: how to cultivate the art market, the Council identified the two northern regions as offering particular opportunities for market development, something previously concentrated in London. After years of rapid post-industrial regeneration and burgeoning cultural activity, flagship cultural venues such as Tate Liverpool and The Lowry in the North West and BALTIC and mima in the North East provide a focal point and stimulus for a vibrant contemporary art scene, comprising commercial galleries, artist-run spaces, studio complexes, art fairs, biennials and festivals.
The North West scheme, which launched in autumn 2009, has recruited an enthusiastic and dedicated membership group which has participated in a programme including artist talks, studio visits, curator-led exhibition tours and visits to private collections and to national and international events including Frieze and Zoo Art Fairs and the Berlin Biennale. It has successfully collaborated with numerous partners from public organisations such as Cornerhouse, Manchester, Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston and A Foundation, Liverpool, and with artist-run and commercial ventures such as Ceri Hand Gallery and Bureau. The North East scheme, launched a year later, has similarly secured partnerships with regional public and private arts organisations and presents its first season of membersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; events in Autumn 2010. Even in their early stages, these regional schemes make it clear that collecting contemporary art is not the preserve of a London-only art world. With the guidance of an independent body such as the Contemporary Art Society, the arts ecology of a region can be stimulated from a grassroots level upwards, with long-term benefits regionally and nationally, and not limited to the contemporary art world itself. Today, the Contemporary Art Society sits at the intersection between the increasingly hybrid private, commercial and public sectors, between local authority funded museums and Arts Council funded commissioning and programming venues, and in the rich seam between artists and audiences, curators and collectors. As a moment to build on its strengths, to innovate in its activities and widen its partnerships, the start of the Societyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s second century is more exciting than ever. www.contemporaryartsociety.org
ARTfutures at the Bloomberg Space, London, 2009 A CAS project presenting work for sale by around 100 artists Courtesy Contemporary Art Society
Rebecca Morrill is Head of Collector Development, North East, Contemporary Art Society.
A network of people collecting contemporary art
THE COLLECTIVE ARE GAINING THEMSELVES QUITE A REPUTATION: SO FAR THIS YEAR THEY HAVE APPEARED IN THE PAGES OF THE TIMES, been featured on Radio 4’s topical debate show You and Yours and there’s talk that they are to appear in a forthcoming episode of The Culture Show. The group is growing in both size and reputation, with branches forming in Bristol, Cambridge and Birmingham. As well as maintaining the original group in London, the capital now boasts second and third incarnations – quite a feat for an organisation established a little under a decade ago. Each group is composed of contemporary art enthusiasts, with the desire, but not necessarily the disposable income, to become collectors. The idea of communal purchasing first appealed to Tim Eastop – himself an art consultant – when he was faced with a set of limited edition prints in London’s Cubitt Gallery that his budget simply couldn’t stretch to. Not content with walking away, he set about persuading a group of friends to club together and buy them, thus owning them collectively. Since then the relationship has blossomed, as has their collection, currently consisting of 45 pieces including works by Tracey Emin and Chris Ofili. The current value of their collection is conservatively estimated at £60,000 from an investment of roughly £20,000, thanks primarily to the buoyancy of the contemporary art market in the last ten years. Yet the prize of having such a successful collection has its conditions – it is essential you are adept in the art of sharing. Groups average seven members, each making a monthly contribution of £35 which is pooled into a joint bank account. For this you get to live with the art you love. However you also need to be prepared to share your home with work you’re not so enamoured with – but this too has its advantages, with many members claiming to have grown to like works to which they had hitherto been less inclined. Works are acquired in a rather business-like fashion, with a formally nominated buying panel changing periodically to fully represent the members of the group. Panellists compile a list of artists whose practice interests them. From here exhibitions are visited, works researched and discussed. Studio visits take place, members speak with curators and gallerists and a dialogue develops with the artists. The nominated buyers, with the power to spend what is currently in the joint account, report back to the rest of the group and works are again discussed – until a democratic decision is made and negotiations on purchase commence.
The Collective has proved so successful that it is being championed by the Contemporary Art Society and Arts Council England to encourage more groups to form. The Birmingham branch came into being as a result of the tireless canvassing of the Collective’s founding members, who toured the country “selling” their unique brand of collecting to other would-be collectors. So inspired was Sarah Allen that she set about creating a group in the West Midlands. Working in the arts, Sarah knew many like-minded individuals who might be interested in joining and teamed up with Eastside Projects to establish a network of individuals to approach. The group formed as a result of their first acquisition – happening incidentally at Eastside Projects. They bought a limited edition print by Simon and Tom Bloor, from the exhibition As Long As It Lasts. For the new group this work presented them with their ideal premier purchase, as together with the print they sponsored a silver birch to be planted in Birmingham’s forthcoming City Park. This work romantically epitomises the philanthropic ideal of collecting, giving something back to the community you live in. This too is mirrored in their desire to support locally based emerging artists – a philosophy echoed throughout the entire Collective network. Indeed, the content of the work itself engenders the aspirations of the Collective – reading “Better a Broken Arm Than a Bruised Spirit”, almost warning against compliancy – encouraging a leap of faith as opposed to erring on the side of caution. On meeting the group I had the pleasure of being privy to the unveiling of their first purchase – done amidst the after-work drinking crowd of a city pub. They seemed happy with their first acquisition and democratically handed it over to a member for their enjoyment for the next few months, when they will pass it on to the next member. The members of the Birmingham branch are, like the Collective’s national demographic, a diverse mixture of individuals from different professional backgrounds, who share an interest in and a desire to learn more about contemporary art. Indeed, this aspiration to learn is crucial to the group’s ethos – with a rationale that the only way to fully understand and appreciate art is to do so in your own home, a sentiment shared by Nicholas Serota who claims, “If you can afford it, the best way to engage with art is to buy it and live with it, to feel passionately about it and to care for it,” and the Collective have made this a tangible reality. www.the-collective.info Jenine McGaughran is a writer and curator based in Birmingham.
Simon & Tom Bloor Untitled, 2009 Designed by James Langdon Silk screen on archive paper Edition of 6, framed Courtesy of Eastside Projects
The winds of change
Grand Union and Birmingham’s vibrant art scene
BIRMINGHAM’S ARTIST COMMUNITY, AGENCIES AND ORGANISATIONS HAVE BEEN FLOURISHING IN RECENT YEARS, with the city now seen as a strong place to live and work if you’re an artist or interested in the visual arts. It’s probably true to say that it’s not always been this way and the history of artist-led spaces and studios, for example, has often been patchy. But the opening of Grand Union during The Event (Birmingham’s artist-led festival) in November 2009 marked one giant leap forward in this regard. Grand Union has already become a popular and busy hive of activity, offering an exciting programme of exhibitions and events as well as a warm, clean, modern, secure place to work for the eight studio holders. The main agenda for the studio/gallery is to maintain conversation between all studio holders and curators as well as to develop links with the city. Its site within Digbeth, the area of Birmingham that is beginning a new lease of art life, takes its name from the canal that runs through this part of Birmingham. You will find Grand Union on the outskirts of the city centre, a stone’s throw away from prominent institutions Ikon Eastside and Eastside Projects (ESP), but also in the company of two institutions of video art, VIVID and 7inch Cinema, the new studio/gallery complex The Lombard Method, as well as Capsule, The Custard Factory, Tindal Street Press, Birmingham Jazz, Rhubarb Rhubarb, Punch and The Edge, who have all joined forces under the umbrella We Are Eastside to better promote their activities. The group describe themselves as “a whole host of organisations making and presenting film, music, visual arts, digital media, craft, literature, and photography – and some great pubs and cafes too.” Digbeth, therefore, is not only a place to be cultural but in which to hang out. Although artist-led and independent spaces are not primarily geared towards commerce, some of them can be good places from which to buy art, and often at prices below the established commercial galleries. In the case of Grand Union there are several ways in which to purchase good, up-and-coming art. Very few of the ten artists within the eight studios Grand Union houses are represented by commercial galleries, so from time to time you can go straight to their studios to see and buy work. This is encouraged by Grand Union during their regular open studio weekends. In addition, the project space enables the curators to bring both represented and non-represented artists to the city, giving opportunities to emerging artists to
develop their careers and establishing relationships with commercial galleries beyond the city. A third commercial aspect of Grand Union is a patronage scheme, which takes the form of subscription to a limited edition series of prints, where over 12 months each studio holder plus exhibited artists will make a limited edition print specifically for members of the scheme. It’s an affordable way to get some great works of art by some of the city’s most exciting artists, including Juneau Projects, Stuart Whipps and Harminder Singh Judge, as well as to support the city’s young and emerging artists. But support extends beyond artists: it also offers curators a place to programme events and exhibitions at an early stage in their careers with the support of personally chosen mentors, a scheme initiated for the space by Arts Council England. Grand Union were given a one-off £10,000 to build their studios and gallery, and have made the money go a long way. The Arts Council has funded a two-year programme plus pay for the gallery part of the rent (the studio holders pay rent for their units), although this is only guaranteed for two years. The renewal of Arts Council funding for Grand Union is not definite, so support from the private sector and through commercial activity is increasingly important, especially when the public purse is under so much pressure. With a few solid investors and supporters, the artists in the studios could keep this much-needed space afloat in the coming difficult years. In the heart of Birmingham’s ever-growing arts district, Grand Union is an important part of the city’s art scene. The lively Digbeth and Eastside district is, however, only part of a bigger picture; Birmingham is home to a large and varied artistic community. Another cultural area in Birmingham is the Jewellery Quarter, home to a number of institutions: the School of Jewellery; commercial gallery St. Paul’s and the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists (RBSA); contemporary art space TROVE, which programmes in Newhall Square in association with the Museum of Lost Heritage; one-nightonly art happening organisation ARC; A. E. Harris, home to performance group Stan’s Café; and architects Kinetic and Bryant Priest Newman, both of whom have exhibition spaces with a constant and complimentary programme. In addition to the cultural hubs of Digbeth and the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham is home to other important cultural organisations that cross from visual arts to curatorial performance groups to publications. These include Crowd 6, a.a.s., Aedas Architects, Fused Magazine, Created in Birmingham (blog and shop),
Artists’ Publishing Fair at Grand Union Part of The Event (festival) November 2009 Courtesy Grand Union
Fierce, Behind Closed Doors (Rea Gardens), The Works Gallery and An Endless Supply as well as various cultural festivals running throughout the year. There’s a lot going on and a lot of art being made, but at present there are not enough opportunities to buy or sell art in the city. While certain galleries and organisations have worked hard to bring buyers into Birmingham and provide opportunities for Birmingham-based artists to work outside the city – particularly photographic media agency Rhubarb Rhubarb – and a handful of commercial galleries contribute much to the city’s economy, many artists have difficulty finding suitable gallery representation or routes to market. Is it the case that people in Birmingham are not used to buying original works of art by contemporary artists or simply that they do not know where to go to find it? Either way, a healthy art scene is the first sign of the winds of change for the region’s art markets, and the foundation for the future success of our city’s emerging artists. www.grand-union.org.uk www.weareeastside.org
Charlie Levine is currently the director and curator of independent contemporary art gallery TROVE, which opened in October 2009 in collaboration with Museum of Lost Heritage, where she holds the position of artistic director. Based in Birmingham, Charlie also continues an independent curatorial practice, locally, nationally and internationally, as well as writing for several online publications.
Where to find contemporary art in the West Midlands Commercial galleries
Public and University The Barber Institute of Fine Arts University of Birmingham Edgbaston Birmingham B15 2TS www.barber.org.uk
The Mead Gallery Warwick Arts Centre University of Warwick Coventry CV4 7AL www.warwickartscentre.co.uk
Applestore Gallery Lady Garden Cottage Brockhampton Herefordshire HR1 4TQ www.applestoregallery.co.uk
Bilston Craft Gallery Mount Pleasant Bilston WV14 7LU www.wolverhamptonart.org.uk/ bilston
The New Art Gallery Walsall Gallery Square Walsall West Midlands WS2 8LG www.thenewartgallerywalsall.org.uk
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery Chamberlain Square Birmingham B3 3DH www.bmag.org.uk
The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery Bethesda Street Hanley Stoke-on-Trent ST1 3DW www.stoke.gov.uk
A&R Gallery 1 Harborne Park Road Corner of High Street Harborne Birmingham B17 0DE www.art-art.co.uk
Compton Verney Compton Verney Warwickshire CV35 9HZ www.comptonverney.org.uk The Drum 144 Potters Lane Aston Birmingham B6 4UU www.the-drum.org.uk Eastside Projects 86 Heath Mill Lane Birmingham B9 4AR www.eastsideprojects.org The Herbert Gallery and Art Museum Jordan Well Coventry CV1 5QP www.theherbert.org Hereford Museum and Art Gallery Broad Street Hereford HR4 9AU www.herefordshire.gov.uk Ikon 1 Oozells Square Brindleyplace Birmingham B1 2HS www.ikon-gallery.co.uk Ikon Eastside 183 Fazeley Street Fazeley Studios Digbeth Birmingham B5 5SE www.ikon-gallery.co.uk International Project Space Bournville Centre for Visual Art Maple Road Birmingham B30 2AA www.internationalprojectspace.org The Lanchester Gallery Coventry University Priory Street Coventry CV1 5FB wwwm.coventry.ac.uk MAC Cannon Hill Park Birmingham B12 9QH www.macarts.co.uk
The Public New Street West Bromwich West Midlands B70 7PG www.thepublic.com Royal Birmingham Society of Artists 4 Brook Street St. Paul’s Birmingham B3 1SA www.rbsa.org.uk Rugby Art Gallery and Museum Little Elborow Street Rugby CV21 3BZ www.rugby.gov.uk Shire Hall Gallery Market Square Stafford ST16 2LD 01785 278 345 www.staffordshire.gov.uk Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery Barker Street Shrewsbury Shropshire SY1 1QH www.shrewsburymuseums.com Solihull Arts Complex Homer Road Solihull West Midlands B91 3RG www.solihull.gov.uk/artscomplex VIVID 140 Heath Mill Lane Birmingham B9 4AR www.vivid.org.uk Wednesbury Museum and Art Gallery Holyhead Road Wednesbury WS10 7DF www.laws.sandwell.gov.uk Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum Foregate Street Worcester WR1 1DT www.worcestercitymuseums.org.uk
Artifex The Mitchell Centre Weeford Road Sutton Coldfield B75 6NA www.artifex.co.uk Artists Gallery 373 Bearwood Road Smethwick B66 4DL www.artistsgallery.co.uk The Gallery at Bevere Bevere Lane Worcester WR3 7RQ www.beverevivis.com Driffold Gallery The Smithy 78 Birmingham Road Sutton Coldfield Birmingham B72 1QR www.driffoldgallery.com Galanthus Gallery & Café Wormbridge Hereford HR2 9DH www.galanthusgallery.com Jamie Leigh Fine Art 18 Stanley Road Oldbury West Midlands B68 0DY www.jamieleighfineart.co.uk Marcus Galleries 135 Alcester Road Moseley Birmingham B13 8JP www.artfind.net
St. Pauls Gallery 94-108 Northwood Street Birmingham B3 1TH www.stpaulsgallery.com Studio4 Gallery The Custard Factory Gibb Street Digbeth Birmingham B9 4AA www.studio4gallery.blogspot.com
Artist-led venues AirSpace Gallery 4 Broad Street City Centre Stoke-on-Trent ST1 4HL www.airspacegallery.org Coventry Artspace 16 Lower Holyhead Road Coventry CV1 3AU www.coventry-artspace.co.uk Eagle Works Great Brickkiln Street Wolverhampton WV3 0PW www.smfrancis.demon.co.uk/ eagle/ The Edge 79-81 Cheapside Deritend Birmingham B12 0QH www.frictionarts.com/the-edge Grand Union Unit 19 Minerva Works Fazeley Street Digbeth Birmingham B5 5RS www.grand-union.org.uk
Number nine the gallery 9 Brindleyplace Birmingham B1 2JA www.numberninethegallery.com
The Lombard Method 68a Lombard Street Digbeth Birmingham B12 0QR www.thelombardmethod. wordpress.com
Park View Gallery 70 Vicarage Road Kings Heath Birmingham B14 7QL
Pitt Studio and Gallery 62 Chestnut Walk Worcester WR1 1PR www.pittstudio.com
Purple Gallery 229 Mary Vale Road Bournville Birmingham B30 2DL www.purplegallery.com
Trove The Old Science Museum 144 Newhall Street Birmingham B3 1RZ www.trove.org.uk
Reuben Colley Fine Arts 50 & 52 St Mary’s Row Moseley Birmingham B13 8JG www.reubencolleyfinearts.co.uk
Unit Twelve Tixall Heath Farm Tixall Stafford ST18 0XX www.unittwelve.co.uk
Top: Worcester Museum; Ikon Gallery, Birmingham. Photo by Stuart Whipps Middle: Compton Verney. Photo by John Kippin; The Public, West Bromwich Bottom: Midlands Arts Centre, Birmingham; Eastside Projects (facade featuring a billboard poster by Freee: Changing Things With Words, 2009.) Photo by Stuart Whipps All images courtesy the respective venues
Regent’s Park, London 14–17 October 2010 www.frieze.com
Tickets available from +44 (0) 871 230 3452 www.seetickets.com
Participating Galleries 303 Gallery, New York Juana de Aizpuru, Madrid Helga de Alvear, Madrid Andersen’s Contemporary, Copenhagen Paul Andriesse, Amsterdam The Approach, London BaliceHertling, Paris Laura Bartlett, London Catherine Bastide, Brussels Guido W. Baudach, Berlin Marianne Boesky, New York Tanya Bonakdar, New York Bortolami, New York Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin BQ, Berlin The Breeder, Athens Broadway 1602, New York Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York Daniel Buchholz, Cologne Cabinet, London Gisela Capitain, Cologne Casa Triângulo, Sao Paulo China Art Objects, Los Angeles Sadie Coles HQ, London Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin Pilar Corrias, London Corvi-Mora, London Sorcha Dallas, Glasgow Thomas Dane, London Massimo De Carlo, Milan Elizabeth Dee, New York Eigen + Art, Berlin frank elbaz, Paris Foksal, Warsaw Fortes Vilaça, Sao Paulo Marc Foxx, Los Angeles Carl Freedman, London Stephen Friedman, London Frith Street, London Gagosian, London Annet Gelink, Amsterdam A Gentil Carioca, Rio de Janeiro Gladstone, New York Marian Goodman, New York Greene Naftali, New York greengrassi, London Karin Guenther, Hamburg Jack Hanley, New York Hauser & Wirth, London Herald St, London hiromiyoshii, Tokyo
Hollybush Gardens, London Hotel, London Andreas Huber, Vienna Xavier Huf kens, Brussels IBID Projects, London Ingleby, Edinburgh Taka Ishii, Tokyo Alison Jacques, London Martin Janda, Vienna Juliètte Jongma, Amsterdam Annely Juda Fine Art, London Kamm, Berlin Casey Kaplan, New York Georg Kargl Fine Arts, Vienna Magnus Karlsson, Stockholm Paul Kasmin, New York Kerlin, Dublin Anton Kern, New York Peter Kilchmann, Zurich Johann König, Berlin David Kordansky, Los Angeles Tomio Koyama, Tokyo Andrew Kreps, New York Krinzinger, Vienna Kukje, Seoul kurimanzutto, Mexico City Lehmann Maupin, New York Michael Lett, Auckland Lisson, London Long March Space, Beijing Kate MacGarry, London Mai 36, Zurich Giò Marconi, Milan Matthew Marks, New York Mary Mary, Glasgow Meyer Kainer, Vienna Meyer Riegger, Karlsruhe Massimo Minini, Brescia Victoria Miro, London The Modern Institute, Glasgow Neu, Berlin Franco Noero, Turin Giti Nourbakhsch, Berlin Lorcan O’Neill, Rome Office Baroque, Antwerp Maureen Paley, London Peres Projects, Berlin Perrotin, Paris Friedrich Petzel, New York Francesca Pia, Zurich Plan B, Cluj
Frame Gregor Podnar, Berlin Eva Presenhuber, Zurich Produzentengalerie, Hamburg Raster, Warsaw Raucci/Santamaria, Naples Almine Rech, Paris Regina, Moscow Anthony Reynolds, London Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris Sonia Rosso, Turin Salon 94, New York Aurel Scheibler, Berlin Rüdiger Schöttle, Munich Gabriele Senn, Vienna Sfeir-Semler, Beirut Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London Sies + Höke, Dusseldorf Filomena Soares, Lisbon Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv Reena Spaulings Fine Art, New York Sprüth Magers Berlin London, Berlin Standard (Oslo), Oslo Diana Stigter, Amsterdam Luisa Strina, Sao Paulo Sutton Lane, London T293, Naples Timothy Taylor, London Team, New York Richard Telles, Los Angeles The Third Line, Dubai Vermelho, Sao Paulo Vilma Gold, London Vitamin Creative Space, Guangzhou Waddington Galleries, London Nicolai Wallner, Copenhagen Barbara Weiss, Berlin Fons Welters, Amsterdam Michael Werner, New York White Cube, London Max Wigram, London Wilkinson, London Christina Wilson, Copenhagen XL, Moscow Zeno X, Antwerp Zero, Milan David Zwirner, New York
Altman Siegel, San Francisco Shannon Ebner Ancient & Modern, London Des Hughes Chert, Berlin Heike Kabisch Lisa Cooley, New York Frank Haines Experimenter, Kolkata Naeem Mohaiemen Fonti, Naples Lorenzo Scotto di Luzio James Fuentes LLC, New York Jessica Dickinson Gaga, Mexico City Adriana Lara Gentili Apri, Berlin Daniel Keller and Nik Kosmas (Aids-3D) François Ghebaly, Los Angeles Neil Beloufa Karma International, Zurich Tobias Madison Andreiana Mihail, Bucharest Ion Grigorescu MOT International, London Laure Prouvost Nanzuka Underground, Tokyo Keiichi Tanaami Overduin and Kite, Los Angeles Erika Vogt Platform China, Beijing Jin Shan Simon Preston, New York Carlos Bevilacqua Renwick, New York Drew Heitzler Rodeo, Istanbul Mark Aerial Waller Federica Schiavo, Rome Salvatore Arancio Micky Schubert, Berlin Manuela Leinhoss Seventeen, London Oliver Laric Sommer & Kohl, Berlin Tony Just Supportico Lopez, Berlin Marius Engh Rob Tufnell, London Ruth Ewan
Main sponsor Deutsche Bank