James Tregaskes speculates on the future of the London art scene in 2009, and gives his tips for the best up and coming galleries.
There’s no denying that the London art scene was a-rocking in 2008. It’s not just the major museums and public spaces that thrive in London; commercial galleries have spread like wildfire since the inception of Frieze Art Fair in 2003.
In the last weeks of ‘08, the international set parked their jets in Miami for Art Basel, despite all the usual boutique hotels holding numerous parties, people falling in swimming pools and Grace Jones busting a groove.
Things at the art fairs were a very different story. Tales of galleries selling nothing or only one or two works were commonplace and buyers were not keen to enter into any sort of dialogue with dealers. Frieze Art Fair in October was decidedly quiet. Other major collectors are re-assessing their collections and selling off pieces to re-coup losses in their other financial interests. It all adds up to a rather quiet marketplace and the Contemporary Art Auctions in New York last month were a disaster with only one or two canny collectors purchasing only the very best, no-doubt to sell on when the market is buoyant again.
But in times of trouble and strife there will be those that blossom and for young galleries with an interesting stable of artists this dip in the market could provide an ideal moment to shine. Ancient&Modern, Hannah Barry Gallery, and Arcade are three galleries that are definitely ones to watch.
It’s also about time that the huge white spaces of Mayfair, Hoxton and Fitzrovia with their snotty receptionists were challenged as being the ideal way of presenting art. In New York, Parlour are bucking the trend by showing art in people’s homes and opening in London in early 2009, First Floor Projects will operate out of a residential space in Chelsea, it’s a clear straying away from the East End the frostiness galleries have become reputed for, instead choosing to interact on a far more personable level.
Enough doom and gloom; 2008 was a jewellery box of memorable exhibitions in public galleries. Tate Gallery excelled itself with blockbuster shows looking at the works of Mark Rothko, Francis Bacon, Peter Doig and Cildo Mereles. All memorable and must-see’s.
We won’t mention the Turner Prize as it was appalling…enough said. Across the pond, the New Museum’s re-opening in Manhattan is a visual feast both in the design of the building, but also the high quality art being shown within this mesh-box structure. The Tomma Abts show was a triumph for this Turner Prize winning artist and the Elizabeth Peyton show was equally as magical. Away from vast cities those spaces such as Modern Art Oxford, and MIMA in Middlesborough have shown that it’s worth that road-trip out of town. The current shows at both these galleries are undeniable visual-must-haves.
Highlight of 2008 must be Roger Hiorns‘ project for Artangel; a former council flat coated in copper sulphate to create a blue crystal fantasyland is something rather special and still resonates as a foreboding memory.
What exhibitions are you looking forward to seeing in London this year?
What were your high, or low points in the art world last year? Join the debate by commmenting below.