Photography specialist Michael Hoppen opens the doors to his new London premises next month, revealing not just a new space but a different way of exhibiting.
At his previous gallery in Jubilee Place, Chelsea, the walls were kept modern and minimal. For his recent move to Portland Road, Holland Park, he’s rethinking his approach.
“For me the gallery model is somewhat tired,” he tells ATG. “I thought it would be interesting to try to do it in a slightly different way.” He plans to bring in multiple disciplines, showcasing photographs – still the focus – alongside textiles, drawings, rare books, posters and more. It mirrors his interests as a collector as well as a shift in the wider world of the trade.
“I’m a collector of all sorts of things: textiles, books. I’m a curious magpie type of guy,” he adds.
By intermixing other genres he hopes to enhance the experience for visitors and enhance rather than detract from the photographs.
He was encouraged in this “crossfertilisation” effort by institutions such as the MoMA in New York City, which takes a similar approach.
It also aligns with the ongoing vogue in the trade for cross-collecting, where private buyers are encouraged to mix genres, rather than zero in on a particular corner of the market.
In former days, the dealer reflects, collectors such as J Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) took a similar approach.
“He had everything from Bibles to cuneiforms,” he says. “But he had the wealth to keep them.”
Hoppen has experienced various challenges over the past few years.
Rising rents on the high street had gradually shut out many of the traditional businesses that once stood in his part of Chelsea. When the landlords notified the gallery that the rent was increasing, Hoppen decided it was time to follow suit.
After 29 years in Jubilee Place, he and his staff spent a couple of years working from an archive space in Notting Hill.
Though they enjoyed visits from clients and artists from around the globe and continued to stand at major fairs, Hoppen decided it was time to get back to a premises with a shop window. Here he will offer something not unheard of but a little different.
“I think we are going through a huge period of change,” Hoppen adds. “Everything is reduced to a screen and is slick. People want to go back to seeing and touching.” After a month or so of working on the new space, the opening exhibition on Contemporary Israeli photographer Ori Gersht is expected to open mid-October.
The dealership can also be found at Paris Photo in November.