“United Kingdom”

Michael Benson: “Despite uncertainties, Photo London is stronger than at its outset”

As the third edition of Photo London prepares to open, Art Media Agency has interviewed its cofounder and co-director to discuss what’s special about this young fair… and the Brexit’s impact on the event’s future. An encounter. Launched in May 2015, the Photo London fair will be opening for the third consecutive year in the neoclassical salons of Somerset House, on the banks of the Thames, from 18 to 21 May. The event was launched by the company Candlestar, specialised in organising cultural events and projects and founded in 2003 by Michael Benson and Fariba Farshad. Candlestar is namely the organiser of the Prix Pictet for photography (seventh edition in 2017) and the Art Dubai fair. A film producer and writer, Michael formerly directed the gallery of the London Institute (today the University of the Arts London), for which he organised numerous exhibitions. Between 2011 and 2014, he also curated the exhibition of the Sony World Awards. Fariba Farshad, co-director of the fair, is a specialist in contemporary Iranian art and an exhibition curator.   Can you present us the main features of this 2017 edition of Photo London? We have 89 participating galleries this year, from 17 countries. This represents a slight increase compared to last year when there were 83 of them. We’re also welcoming ten publishing houses, which makes a total of 99 exhibitors. There were around 200 galleries that applied by sending in online applications. The selection committee’s criteria are based on three aspects. The main criterion is to offer something new. We expect galleries to either present new artists, or else the latest work from recognised or well-established artists, or else historic images that are gems. This year, the selection committee, which includes half a dozen photo and contemporary-art experts, was overseen by Philippe...

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Future\Pace: a new strategic partnership

Combining the gallery and curatorial expertise of Pace London, the cultural placemaking experience of Futurecity, and the collaborative energies of an international group of artists, the new strategic partnership Future\Pace offers a pioneering approach to commissioning art in the public realm.   We talk to Pace London President, Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst, and Futurecity Founder, Mark Davy, to discuss the idea of a cultural city; learning to speak the language of developers; the economic benefits of collaboration; and a new breed of artist.   How did the partnership between Futurecity and Pace London come about? Mark Davy: Mollie and I met when I was working on strategy for the Crossrail Culture Line, which is matching six of the new London Crossrail stations with six leading galleries and six international artists. Although there’s a real appetite at the moment for artists to create large-scale interventions in urban settings, it’s actually quite difficult to get artists to work in this context. Either they don’t have the teams behind them or they are inside a gallery system, which can be hard because you need to work in a very collaborative, open-ended way. Mollie and I were interested in the idea of a new group which gave developers, city organisations and authorities the opportunity to take on artists who could do large-scale works, who could work in a multi-disciplinary set-up, collaborate (which is not always easy for artists!) and deliver. Futurecity has been working in this area for about ten years: for example, Mark Wallinger’s White Horse at Ebsfleet, or Slipstream with Richard Wilson at Heathrow. We provide support with the strategic, structural element of the job: the indemnities, the insurances, the contracts and the project management. Pace London has the gallery and curatorial expertise, as well as being able to bring in very good,...

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Thaddaeus Ropac: “I’m more curious to see what is happening far from us”

It’s no small event… Thaddaeus Ropac is opening a fifth gallery, this time in London. The gallerist here explains his enthusiasm for the British capital, considers the Brexit, and expands on his exhibition policy… A full agenda ahead. The new branch of the Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, in London – following the trail of Kamel Mennour who also settled in the city last October –, will be opening to the public on 28 April. The gallery will be located in an 18th century former residence at the heart of the historic Mayfair district. The ground-floor and first-floor spaces of the new venue will be inaugurated with an exhibition of historic photographs and video sculptures by Gilbert & George, a selection of American minimal-art works from the Marzona collection, as well as drawings from the 1950s and 1960s. A sculpture by Joseph Beuys will also be presented, along with a new performance and recent sculptures by Oliver Beer. Explanations follow. You’re opening a new gallery in London next spring. What is the main reason for this choice? Opening in London is in line with the way the gallery is moving forward. We represent many artists, and I think that we’re capable of running several galleries at the same time. It’s very exciting. We can put on more exhibitions and show more art. We’re trying to reach out to an even greater public with the exhibitions that we hold. This follows our gallery’s logic. I’m a staunch European, as I always say. So my principle has been to set up within the European context and of course, England was so much part of this. I didn’t want to go to the United States or China or anywhere else. There aren’t many cities in Europe that have quite as great an impact on the visibility of art...

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Data: Rauschenberg, auctions lagging behind?

Robert Rauschenberg, the rebel; Robert Rauschenberg, the die-hard experimenter. This man who worked in “the gap between art and life” and who contributed to the emergence of the concept of the “visual artist”, would leave his mark on the history of art in the second half of the 20th century. But has the market followed him? Robert Milton Ernest Rauschenberg was born on 22 October 1925 in Port Arthur, in Texas oil country. His parents, fervent Protestants, had limited means. He had a German physician grandfather who fell in love with a Cherokee Indian. At the age of sixteen, young Rauschenberg started studying pharmacy at the University of Texas in Austin. In 1943, he signed up with the US army and joined the Navy Hospital Corps in San Diego, California. Upon his discharge in 1945, he enrolled at the Kansas City Art Institute before setting off for the Académie Julian in Paris. This is where he met Susan Weil, with whom he would have a son. Rauschenberg continued his studies at Black Mountain College (North Carolina), where he met Josef Albers. A stint at New York and the Art Students League, alongside Morris Kantor and Vaclav Vytlacil, gave him the opportunity to meet Knox Martin and Cy Twombly. 1952 marked a turning point in his career. While he was still a student at Black Mountain College, he took part, with John Cage, Merce Cunningham, pianist David Tudor and Jay Watt, in the Untitled Event, also known as Theatre Piece N°.1, often referred to as the first happening by historians. In the same year, he travelled across Europe and North Africa with his lover Cy Twombly. At the start of the 1950s when the United States was under the thrall of abstract expressionism, Robert Rauschenberg had already started to incorporate...

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A new gallery in Deptford, run by Matthew Wood

At the start of November, a gallery replying to the name of “No Format” opened in the Anthology Deptford Foundery in London. The gallery is housed under Arch 29 (Rolt Street) of this project to promote Deptford’s industrial heritage. Matthew Wood, the gallery’s director – but also director of SFSA (Second Floor Studio & Arts), a body which supplies artists and designers with work spaces at affordable prices – will be opening about sixty studios for artists on the site in 2019, reports the East London Lines web site. For its first exhibition, the gallery, wishing to support local creation, is showing artists from London’s southern districts, among them former computer programmer Rachel Ara, whose This Much I’m Worth won the International Aesthetica Art Prize in...

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