Galleries - February 2013

ART FUTURES MAYFAIR continuing success for London’s west end galleries There’s no question about it, the London gallery scene, not to mention the art market, fuelled by globalization and this country’s exceptionally benign international tax laws, is going through a period of change and growth unparalleled since the late 60s. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the art world’s traditional centre, Mayfair, where the number of new gallery openings over the last 5 years almost certainly matches what’s been going on in the Fitzrovia district that I looked at in the November issue . It’s a very different scene here though and the forces at work are different too. With rents often almost double those in Fitzrovia (location, location, location matters, even at this tiny geographical remove) this means Mayfair is, generally speaking, not a place for ‘refugees’ from the East or West ends of London but rather a focus for already well-established galleries from a broad spectrum of international locations – North America and Western Europe obviously but now, increasingly, Russia, India, China and the Far and Middle East as well – and on an astonishingly successful level too. When I set out to write this article I still thought it would be possible to give a reasonably comprehensive snapshot of what is going on here but now, with well over 80 galleries, Kurt Schwitters An overdue major tribute to the late work of Kurt Schwitters ( Tate Britain ) is accompanied by a display from this German-born artist’s earlier period at Bernard Jacobson . A truly international figure in early 20th C. art, he has been best known for his Merz installation projects made of anything and everything that came to hand, which he was still developing at the time of his death in 1948. Schwitters absorbed Expressionism, Dada and abstrac- tion, as he experienced revolution, the rise of Nazism and World War. He was forced to leave his native Hanover in 1937 after being de- nounced as “degenerate”, sailing from Norway to Britain in 1940. initiative entitled ‘Risen!: Art of the Crucifixion and Eastertide’ – running from Lent to Easter effectively – Piano Nobile (6 Feb- ruary – 2 March) and Monnow Valley Arts (23 March – 21 April) are showing 30 of them alongside a series of recently commissioned pieces – stained glass and icons as well as sculpture and paintings – from some major contemporary artists working on similar themes, including Mark Cazalet, Martzia Colonna, Greg Tricker and Rich- ard Bavin. And, as if this was not riches enough, Monnow Valley, aka Rupert Otten, is organising further exhibitions of work from these two collections through March/April in 5 Welsh Border churches. For further details see Here, he was promptly interned even as his Merzbau was des- troyed by bombs. But the harshness of life seemed only to spur him to greater creativity, as Tate’s 150 collages, assemblages and sculptures reveal. His signature Merz-type constructions appear alongside intimate and brilliantly executed portraits of English and German friends. Viewed together with his abstract constructions made of the flotsam of daily life, it’s clear that Schwitters’ contribution was more complex and inventive than we realised. In a Tate commission, Adam Chodzko ( Marlborough Contemporary ) offers his thoughts on the Merz legacy in a video work. Corinna Lotz 9. GALLERIES FEBRUARY 13