Galleries - June 2011

ings (from 1 to 9 July) is celebrat- ing its 10th birthday with special exhibitions by 20 of London’s finest drawings dealers. The range and quality is, as ever, an aston- ishing testament to London’s still remarkable pre-eminence in this field, from W.S. Fine Art/Andrew Wyld ’s newly discovered group of Cotman drawings to Theobald Jennings ‘s display of important Kirchners, Agnew’s 17th C. Italian and Old Masters to Stern Piss- arro ‘s Impressionists and Abbot & Holder ’s 20th C. British. Then also there’s Russian Modernism, French Fauvism, French neo- Classical, Constables and Lowrys –the list just goes on and on . . . LONDON CLAY The ‘School of London’ has be- come such a standard term for the group of artists that emerged around Bacon and Freud in post- war London – Andrews, Kossoff, Auerbach among them – that it is too easily forgotten that it was another in the group, R.B. Kitaj, who coined the term in the course of a seminal exhibition and cata- logue essay (I still refer to it as much as any catalogue in my col- lection) for a show he curated for the Arts Council, ‘The Human Clay’, some 35 years ago. Now the term just tends to mean those half-dozen or so artists, but Kitaj spread his net much wider, including some 40 artists and em- bracing a much broader stylistic range than the largely figurative art it has come to imply. All this is years or more. Its position at the RA’s back door provides a natural meeting place for artists and stud- ents, dealers and collectors. Not for much longer perhaps, if Stan- dard Life go ahead with plans to sell (almost certainly for rede- velopment) part of their substan- tial property portfolio on the street – nos 22-27, home to 7 galleries. Fashion appears to be the main beneficiary – Old Bond Street has gone that way – and the signs were there when Ralph Lauren moved in c.8/9 years ago, turning the Piccadilly Gallery into its goods entrance in the process. (Allowing the street’s social hub, the Queen’s Café, to go didn’t help either.) Given the prices one has heard the fashion houses seem able to pay for a prime site, it has a ring of inevitability about it but, to be fair, Cork Street is fighting back with that very contemporary weapon of popular opinion, the e-mail peti- tion. This is asking for more sub- stantial leases to protect galleries somewhat from the stratosph- erical rises in rent that must surely follow such a sale. More than that though, is the need to protect ano- ther characterful cultural London district from becoming a victim of corporate aggrandisement. Petition information at : www.38de MASTER DRAWINGS 10 Founded in 2001 by Crispian Riley-Smith (and a huge success from the word go) Master Draw- ANTENNAE 8. GALLERIES JUNE 11 BUILDING ON SUCCESS Sometimes known as the Scottish Art Embassy in England or the Nova Scotia of the south, the Fleming Collection has, over the last decade made its distinctive presence felt not only on the Lon- don art scene but also back home north of the Border with an im- pressive list of shows. Building on the foundation of that critical success and popular appeal Fle- mings is now opening a new upper exhibition space in which they will be able to present the fin- est examples of Scottish art from their collection which, both in size and quality, is second to none in private hands. For their opening event (from 10 June) over 50 of the prize items from Fleming’s permanent holdings of historical and modern Scottish paintings will be on display for all to savour – including works by Victorian art- ists such as Thomas Faed, the Glasgow Boys, the Sco-ttish Col- ourists and gems like Ann Red- path’s The Orange Chair and Anstruther by William Gillies. BH THE END OF CORK STREET? For all the remarkable explosion of gallery start-ups in the East End over the last two decades or so, Cork Street, like next door Savile Row for tailoring, still remains largely synonymous with the art trade. Housing 20 or more gall- eries this quite short street has proved astonishingly resilient to shifts in artistic fashion for 90