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London Art Week’s (LAW) latest moves are pitched to bring first-time visitors into galleries where they might not otherwise venture.

Running from June 29-July 6 (with an opening night on June 28), the summer festival brings together 40 art and antiques businesses around Mayfair and St James’s.

Together they capitalise on the busy summer season, opening their doors to seasoned collectors, museum curators and uninitiated buyers alike.

It is the latter category that has sparked two of the additions to this year’s event.

Galleries open to all

One is a series of one- to three-hour tours, covering a few galleries at a time.

Whether dealerships are behind doorbells and up flights of stairs or are at street level with large windows full of elegant stock, a gallery visit can be intimidating for the novice. But LAW is on a continuing crusade to tempt new buyers into one of London’s leading trade hubs.

“We want to make the galleries more approachable,” says LAW chief executive Philippa Gimlette. “We want to break down some perceived barriers. These galleries are such an important part of this area and they are open to visitors.”

To help drum up even more interest this year they are cross-promoting with events such as Masterpiece London and Asian Art in London, which takes place in the autumn. Their growing website has also helped keep the profile of the event all year round. 

The other new element is a late night on Tuesday, July 3, which gives those people with 9-5 jobs and busy weekends – such as young, wealthy professionals – an opportunity to drop in on a few exhibitions.

Equally (perhaps more) important is the chance to bring in the mass of established collectors and museum experts that flock to London every summer for the auctions at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Bonhams (all of which participate in LAW). 

It is, in the words of participant Stephen Ongpin, a “perfect storm of collectors, curators, dealers, scholars, auction house experts and enthusiasts”.

Many of the dealerships host shows to mark the occasion.

Gimlette says: “The galleries realise that exhibitions really draw people in. These businesses have so much academic prowess that people find really appealing and the majority of the participants are doing exhibitions this year.”

Indeed, 27 of the galleries have listed shows for this LAW.

Sam Fogg, specialist in the art of the Middle Ages, Islamic lands and India, hosts Late Medieval and Renaissance Textiles, focusing on European textiles from 1400-1600. The dealership offers embroideries such as opus anglicanum, Renaissance velvet, tapestries and more.

Stephen Ongpin Fine Art features Oudry to Gauguin: French Drawings of the 18th and 19th Centuries, including pieces by Boucher, Fragonard, Gericault, Watteau and others.

And objects from the ancient world are offered alongside original paintstick drawings by contemporary artist Richard Serra at Ariadne Galleries’ show In Texture.

Compelling time

LAW is such a strong and exciting moment in the art calendar,” says Jonny Yarker of Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker. “It’s coalesced into a really compelling time for collectors across the world and feels like a collegiate event for participating galleries. This is a chance for us to talk to people in our own space about the works we are offering.”

His gallery’s exhibition, Spirit and Force of Art: Drawing in Britain 1600-1730, is a selection of 100 early drawings spanning the Stuart age. It includes major, unpublished drawings, many offered for six-figure sums, but also a number of pictures for under £10,000.

The Weiss Gallery stages the show Faces and Fashion, bringing together a selection of Tudor, Stuart and northern European Old Master portraits. For the Jermyn Street dealership’s Charlie Mackay, the event has helped attract “a more focused audience to Old Master galleries like ourselves. It also reinforces the idea that galleries in the area enjoy a friendly, collaborative relationship with each other.”

LAW highlights more than just local businesses. It is a chance for those from overseas to take spaces in the area. Newcomer Antonacci Lapiccirella from Rome, for example, will set up in a first-floor space in Old Bond Street with five centuries of Italian paintings.

Caretto & Occinegro of Turin, also a newcomer, stages Nature/ Symbol/Colour: Inside Flemish Art at Georgian House. And Artur Ramon of Barcelona brings four centuries of Spanish and Italian drawings to St James’s.

Among the other UK participants are Bagshawe Fine Art, Didier Aaron, showing master drawings from the 17th to 19th centuries, Raccanello Leprince showing By the Book: European Ceramics from Engraved Sources and Tomasso Brothers, which hosts a show celebrating its 25th anniversary.

A long list of events, including talks by dealers, artists and museum directors, runs throughout the week. See the website below for more.