The landscape of the London art world is constantly evolving and changing. Twenty-five years ago Portobello in west London was the place to look for cool young artists, then Shoreditch, Spitalfields and all points east were ‘washed in art » ; then Fitzrovia became the perfect place to have a gallery, and what was once known as “North Soho” still has a vibrant art scene. Finally, of course, Mayfair and St James have always been important. Yet since its recent redevelopment, the traditional epicenter of Cork Street has moved west to Dover Street and Albemarle Street. Soho, which is still home to several galleries, now has its moment in the sun, and long may it last.
Soho’s artistic and bohemian heritage continues to attract young galleries
Of the approximately eighteen galleries currently in Soho (see list below), about half have opened in the last five years, and about half are “upstairs operations”. They mostly opted for the “Piano Nobile” or easily accessible first floor, although in the case of the Lungley Gallery (currently moving to Fitzrovia) and the Artist Room they are located on the third floor. Indeed, there has recently been a general shift in business model in the art world, partly exacerbated by the COVID lockdown, where galleries tend to favor smaller premises and spend their budget on fairs where they can expose their artists to a much wider audience. public.
Besides the obvious economic considerations, there are other factors. Laurie from Artist Room said: “Our upstairs location gives visitors and collectors a sense of having discovered something secret. Although we are centrally located, our third floor space offers incredible light and great views of the Brewer Street action. The downside is that the narrow stairwells mean artwork deliveries can be inconvenient at times! »
Soho’s artistic and bohemian heritage continues to attract young galleries to our mansion. India Rose James of the Soho Review Gallery explains, “It’s exciting to have the gallery in Soho and to be surrounded by other art spaces with things to see all the time. Being here also feels like part of a vibrant arts ecosystem happening nearby. Laurie from Artist Room is equally enthusiastic about the area; ‘Soho has a creative energy, unique story and brutality that appeals to The Artist Room’s sensibilities. It’s amazing to think that we are only a few steps from The French House where Frances Bacon and John Deakin would spend hours!
Soho is now home to galleries of all shapes and sizes. Soho’s modest smallest gallery at 62 Dean Street is a showcase where directors Philip Levine and Andreia Costa, “The works are only to be seen from the street, so each work has created a site specifically for the space of the gallery”. The sprawling 1st floor of Sadie Coles’ head office at 62 Kingly Street also has Mayfair and St James branches. It is the depth of the whole block and has a spectacular space with a huge window on Regent Street.
In addition to newcomers, there are several long-time residents. Andrew Edmunds opened at 44 Lexington Street in 1974 and the Frith Street Gallery has occupied its namesake location since 1989. Although a relatively new addition to Soho, the Fine Art Society, occupying the top three floors from a fine Georgian building at 25 Carnaby Street, had previously traded in New Bond Street since 1876, making it one of London’s premier shopping malls.
The mix of art on offer is also diverse. Andrew Edmunds specializes in English and French engravings and drawings of the 18th and 19th centuries, satire, caricature, the unusual and the macabre while Maison Bertaux at 28 Greek Street, in addition to serving delicious pastries, exhibits several artists best known as comedy actors, including Noel Fielding, Harry Hill and Timothy Spall. Emerging artists can find contemporary art at Amanda Wilkinson, Artist Room, Changing Room Gallery, Niru Ratnam, Rhodes Contemporary and Soho Revue Gallery. Karsten Schubert, Robert Upstone and New York gallerist Marion Goodman present more established artists.
In addition to the galleries, if you have access to Soho’s private clubs, you’ll find stunning artwork and most likely meet some of the artists who created it. Artists have always been drawn to Soho, from Bacon and Freud in the 1950s to the YBAs of the 1980s to the current generation. One problem, probably unique to Soho, that India Rose James mentioned will probably never change: “We’re being asked if we have models upstairs!”
Top photo: Dorothy Cross Damascus Rose Frith Street Gallery 17 February – 14 April 2022 GOLDEN SQUARE LONDON
Andrew Edmonds44 Lexington Street – https://www.andrewedmundsprints.com
Amanda Wilkinson, 1st Floor, 18 Brewer Street – https://www.amandawilkinsongallery.com
artist room3rd floor, 76 Brewer Street – https://www.theartistroom.com
Locker room gallery13 rue Manette – https://www.changingroomgallery.com
AboutLights of Piccadilly – https://www.circa.art
fine arts society1st Floor, 25 Carnaby Street – https://www.thefineartsociety.com
Frith Street Gallery, 60 Frith Street – https://www.frithstreetgallery.com
Frith Street Gallery17 Golden Square – https://www.frithstreetgallery.com
Karsten Schubert2nd Floor, 44 Lexington Street – https://www.karstenschubert.com
Bertaux House28 rue des Grecs – https://www.maisonbertaux.com/art-gallery
Marion Goodman Projects23 Golden Square – https://www.mariangoodman.com
Niru Ratnam, 1st Floor, 23c Ganton Street – https://www.niruratnam.com
Gallery of photographers16 Ramillies Street – https://www.thephotographersgallery.org.uk
Rhodes Contemporary Art, 42 New Compton Street – https://www.rhodescontemporaryart.com
Robert Upstone Gallery1st floor, 40 Frith Street – https://www.robertupstone.com
Sadie Coles HQ, 1st Floor, 62 Kingly Street – https://www.sadiecoles.co
The smallest gallery in Soho62 Dean Street – https://www.thesmallestgalleryinsoho.com
Gallery Soho Review1-4 Walkers Court – https://www.sohorevue.com
Groucho45 Dean Street – https://www.thegrouchoclub.com/art
House of St Barnabas1 Greek Street – https://www.hosb.org.uk/the-collective
Union Club / Martinez49 Greek Street – https://www.unionclub.co.uk/blog
Soho House40 Greek Street – https://www.sohohouse.com