Piccadilly Circus area is home to a multitude of high-end commercial art galleries in London selling art work from a variety of artists. Each gallery typically specializes in a specific genre of art most appealing to the gallery owner. Just a couple streets over from Piccadilly is Cork Street, which was an area formally referred to as “thee” art street in all of London. The area has since undergone a transformation and become a reflection of the changing times impacted by constant renovation and the construction of new buildings. Through the decades, Cork Street has remained a commercial gallery hub with the streets lined by top-notch art galleries displaying and selling the work of different artists in changing exhibitions overturning anywhere from just a couple of weeks to several months.
I visited three commercial galleries in the art hub of London and was immediately fascinated by how the art, as well as the business components, spoke to me as a viewer and business student. Prior to taking my Art History course this semester, I had never visited a commercial gallery before, and after watching the “Banker’s Guide to Art,” my eyes have been opened to how the art world is a thriving and ever-changing business. The business world centered around art is a competitive and unique industry compiled of wealthy individuals, fishy off-shore companies, international taxes regulations, and dealers and buyers competing with the shifting eras and fluctuating economy to ensure high profits on artwork. Stepping deeper into the hub of the commercial art galleries, I visited Messum’s, Waddington Custot and the White Cube of Mason’s Yard in the heart of London.
Messum’s, located on Cork Street, is a sleek and posh art dealer with a gallery space boasting impressive work. Founded by David Messum in 1963, the Messum is an independent family firm of art experts and recognized as long standing academic and market leaders in British Impressionism, Modern British and Contemporary painting and sculpture. The Messum is passionate about promoting the study of British art and supporting those who share their passion for it. Currently hosting the Magí Puig exhibition, I was in awe over the work and particularly connected to the stunning pieces in oil medium inspired by Puig’s travels to cities all over the world. After recently traveling to Venice myself, I would love to have the piece titled Venècia Groc hanging in my home one day. The pieces sell from $2,250 to upwards of $10,000, and the Puig exhibition displays one of a kind pieces which are truly breathtaking and leave the viewer eager to dive into the painting itself.
The second gallery I visited was Waddington Custot which incorporates a rich heritage embracing an international reputation for quality and expertise. Hosting a wide range of work, the gallery was formed through the partnership of long-time London art dealer, Leslie Waddington and French art dealer Stephane Custot in 2011, however, the gallery was formerly known as the Waddington Galleries and was originally founded in 1958. The Waddinton Custot has exhibited work from the new generation of British painters and sculptors, post-war American art in England, Abstract Expressionist, contemporary shows, new European and American painters and sculptors and the work of young British artists. Currently exhibiting Fabienne Verdier Rhythms and Reflections, the gallery features large-scale abstract paintings produced over the last year. As an abstract painter, Verdier’s work of self-expressionism incorporates the dynamic forces of nature with fluid moments and instability. I was mesmerized by the pieces displayed in the gallery and particularly captured by the rich color and intense texture on the large canvas.
Having recently visited to White Cube Bermondsey location, I was eager to experience the White Cube Mason’s Yard location. Each of the White Cube galleries are housed in unique buildings remodeled to very much so resemble a white cube. The sharp angles of the building and white color pallet set the tone of a modern gallery before the viewer even sets foot in the door. Inside the galleries of both White Cube locations the atmosphere is open, airy and offers a fresh taste on art. After experiencing both current exhibitions, Anselm Kiefer at Bermondsey and Magnus Plessen at Mason’s Yard, I could grasp a more thorough understanding of how ever changing exhibitions work in a commercial gallery. When I visited the White Cube Bermondsey location, an art expert was showing clients pieces they may be potentially interested in purchasing with sales tags of upwards of hundreds of thousands of Pounds. I enjoyed the Anselm Kiefer exhibition immensely and was captured by his intense use of material and textures to produce huge pieces in his astonishing 200-acre art studio. I found the Magnus Plessen exhibition quite unusual, however remained impressed by the demonstration of vivid colors and use of oil and charcoal on canvas showing the devastating impact of automatic weapons on the human body.
I very much so enjoyed visiting a variety of commercial art galleries in the hub of London’s ever changing art world. I was overly impressed by the art and business components in Messum’s, Waddington Custot and both White Cube locations. I definitely cannot afford to invest or purchase any artwork of my own anytime soon, but in the meantime, I intend to enjoy the art viewing perks in commercial gallerias and public galleries all over London.