Gallery Shift from the Traditional to the Contemporary

The Financial Times just posted an interesting article on changing tastes and how it is impacting the art market in general and galleries in particular. The article points out due to changing tastes in art collecting and investments, as well as escalating rents, that the traditional fine art galleries are now making way for contemporary art galleries.

The Financial Times reports
Changing tastes and rising rents are squeezing traditional fine art and antique dealers out of Mayfair, as global fashion brands and contemporary art mega-galleries take over expensive locations.

Agnew’s, founded in 1817, and Colnaghi, the world’s oldest commercial art gallery, have been edged out in favour of larger, more international dealers such as Gagosian, which opened an 18,000 sq ft space in Grosvenor Hill, near Berkeley Square, at the end of last year.

Next year Eden Fine Art, which specialises in pop art, will open on New Bond Street. Thaddaeus Ropac, a leading European dealer, is set to take over five floors of Ely House on Dover St, replacing 151-year-old Mallett Antiques, which will move to Pall Mall. According to Levy, the property consultants, the building was on offer for an annual rent of £550,000.

Earlier this year, Steve Lazarides, graffiti artist Banksy’s former agent, announced he would use a “seven-figure investment” from a Qatari backer to move his Fitzrovia gallery to Mayfair.

Seven international galleries have opened branches in the area since 2011, according to Savills, including Dominique Lévy and Skarstedt, both of which have moved into upper floor galleries in Old Bond Street.

Additional pressure from fashion brands seeking flagship stores in Bond Street in particular has forced average rents to rise by more than 50 per cent between 2010 and 2015, according to EY, the professional services firm.

Matthew Hall, a partner at Panter & Hall, based in Pall Mall, said rents had risen inexorably higher, forcing many smaller players to reconsider whether they wished to remain.

“Last recession, [rents] hardly murmured,” he said. “There was a slight adjustment for a minute, and then they went rocketing up again. In the old days of boom and bust, you used to wait for the bust and then you could find a really good rent somewhere central.”

Pall Mall, in St James’s to the south of Piccadilly, has now emerged as the new centre for fine arts, despite being “historically a no-go area” for the art world, said Matt Paulson-Ellis, head of retail at Levy. “It’s about availability and affordability — and the proximity to Christie’s [auctioneers],” he said.

Cork Street, traditionally the heart of the capital’s art world, is undergoing redevelopment. Landlord The Pollen Estate said it was committed to re-establishing the street’s reputation as a magnet for collectors and artists. Including galleries in east Mayfair, the redevelopment will “more than double the amount of gallery space on Cork Street”, said David Shaw, Pollen chairman.

Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, the Gagosian’s landlord, also said it was keen to encourage “opportunities for smaller galleries and studio space for craftsmen and artists” in the area.

Named after Richard Boyle, the second Earl of Cork, Cork Street first became synonymous with the art world in the early 20th century, following the Royal Academy’s move to Burlington House, situated at the southern end of the street, in 1868.

Yet for some galleries, the limitations of some of the smaller, older buildings in the area have become apparent.

“It isn’t a question of me being squeezed out,” Alan Cristea said of the move of his eponymous gallery from Cork Street to Pall Mall. “It is a question of me needing more space.”

However, many smaller galleries say space is less important than rent considerations, leading many to abandon their shop fronts and move upstairs.

John Martin, owner of an eponymous gallery in Albemarle Street, moved one floor up last summer. “I’m in a very lucky position, as I can stay in the same building,” he said.

His plan is to sit out the next two or three years, and then to look to relocate to Cromwell Place, a new art hub forming in South Kensington.

“We can cruise for a bit, and then look at other options,” he said. “But ultimately, I’ll look to move.”
Source: Financial Times 

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