Opening a new gallery, even for an existing dealership, is the chance for a fresh start. For three London businesses opening in different locations at the end of this year, the spaces are accompanied by opportunities.
After 15 years sharing a gallery in St James’s, Old Master, 19th century and Modern drawings dealership Stephen Ongpin Fine Art is striking out on its own with a move to a Mayfair townhouse.
The shop at 82 Park Street occupies six floors and is four times the side of the previous space, including three floors of exhibition rooms. It means not just more space but more privacy and different ways of entertaining clients.
Previously the dealership shared a shopfront gallery with 18th and 19th century British drawings and watercolours dealer Guy Peppiatt in Mason’s Yard.
Ongpin says he will miss the “laid-back bohemian vibe” of the previous gallery – so inviting to passing trade with its large ground floor windows. The new premises will be by appointment, but there is plenty to be gained with the change.
“A lot of my business comes from overseas, with many buyers coming to London once or twice a year,” he says.
“Now we can hold lunches or dinners to entertain clients. We also have a little outdoor terrace to make use of. We have three galleries so other dealers can join us for guest exhibitions. I’m hoping that people will make the gallery a destination.”
Ongpin’s extensive scholarly library, previously partly trapped behind stock in the Mason’s Yard basement, is now liberated and accessible on shelves around the Park Street building.
For the dealer this is the most exciting part of the move as it invites chances for scholarly study within the walls of the gallery.
It launches with the exhibition From Giorgione to Picasso: Masterworks from Six Centuries, part of London Art Week. Elliott Fine Art will take the gallery’s third floor for its LAW show The Belle Époque: 1870-1914.
The move also means a change for Peppiatt, who remains at Mason’s Yard sharing the building with Harry Moore-Gwyn Fine Art, dealer in British art, and Nick Shaw, specialising in Islamic and Indian objects and topographical pictures.
Moore-Gwyn and Peppiatt are ringing in the changes with a joint catalogue and exhibition, British Drawings and Watercolours from the 18th-20th Centuries, running until December 1 and also part of LAW.
Elsewhere in Mayfair, antiquities specialist Kallos Gallery has moved from Davies Street to Chesterfield Gardens.
Following a period of refurbishment, the premises is set to open for LAW with the exhibition Warriors and Warfare in the Ancient World.
Though the move does not signal a change in the general running of the gallery, it coincides with the launch of a new branch of the business, Kallos Fine Jewellery.
The dealership is known already for its trade in ancient jewellery. The new venture offers something a little different: antiquities, such as coins, intaglios and amulets, woven into modern settings for a selection of one-of-a-kind pieces.
Founded in 1947, Magnum is a cooperative which represents photographers for assignments, licensing existing work and placing exhibitions, as well as selling prints of its members’ work.
According to CEO Caitlin Hughes, the opening in France marks a shift in the firm’s strategy “developing [it] as a credible art market player”.
In a move to be more public-facing, the gallery has a programme of rotating exhibitions both physical and online. It also has a front-of-house manager, library and bookshop. The Parisian shop, on Rue Léon Frot in the 11th district, underwent significant renovation by London architecture firm Johnson Naylor before opening in October and includes a private viewing room and library as well as a ground-floor exhibition space.
It replaces the firm’s offices in Rue Hégésippe Moreau, which opened in 2000. The inaugural exhibition is New York, featuring photographs of life in the Big Apple by Bruce Davidson and Khalik Allah. It runs until December 18. n