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Gagosian Gallery

News from London: Gagosian grows and grows, as does Tate Magazine, while Lisson and White Cube get into the festive spirit

Meanwhile, a dead animal stirs things up in Camden

Gagosian gains Robin Vousden...

Gagosian Gallery continues to expand its London operation on all fronts. Not only is it poised to unveil its 12,500 square-foot, Caruso St John designed new space (in a former car park with the impressively large address of 4-26 Britannia Street WC1) which opens in mid-April with a show of Jeff Koons’s recent paintings and sculptures; but it has also just been joined by the ebullient demon art-seller Robin Vousden, who has left Marian Goodman Gallery to become a director of Gagosian UK. “Two years in New York was a wonderful adventure, but then I realised it was time to come home,” declares Mr Vousden, who adds that a major factor influencing his decision was Gagosian’s “incredible space in Britannia Street.” Before going stateside, Mr Vousden was for 18 years a pillar of the Anthony D’Offay gallery; so now, with the steady flow of former D’Offay artists into the Gagosian stable, he should feel completely at home.

...and John Currin, but only in the US

However, one artist not from the D’Offay ranks who has signed up with Gagosian is virtuoso New York painter John Currin. However, Gagosian is especially eager to stress that they are only representing Currin in the US (where he was formerly with Andrea Rosen) and that Sadie Coles will continue to be his UK agent. After all, with Gagosian and Sadie Coles Gallery both located within the tiny stretch of Heddon Street, it is best not to upset the neighbours.

Tate Magazine gets two editors

The latest in the long-running saga of Tate Magazine seems to confirm that the Tate’s decision-makers do not want to make things easy for themselves. Now, its ill-fated association with Condé Nast firmly dead and buried, the magazine is to be published in-house, but with two editors at the helm. Carrying the title of editorial director is Bice Curiger, curator for the Kunsthaus Zurich and editor-in-chief of the hugely prestigious Parkett Magazine; while the magazine’s appointed editor is to be Simon Grant, who, in a previous life worked with founding editor Tim Marlow in the pre-Condé Nast era, and who was more recently Karen Wright’s deputy at Modern Painters. Quite why a magazine—which states that its main focus is now to be on Tate’s activities and which is addressing itself specifically to the Friends of the gallery—needs to be so editor-heavy is something of a mystery, especially since the busy Ms Curiger will still be based in Zurich. However, Mr Grant is being very chipper about his new job, declaring that, “I welcome Bice’s huge editorial experience and I think we work well together. I know the Tate and the modern British side of things very well, and she is excellent on the international side of things.” All will be revealed in May with the unveiling of their first issue.

Fur flies at Camden Arts Centre

After having been through all the traumas of fundraising, planning and budget-meeting, the last thing that Camden Arts Centre needed on the eve of its relaunch on the occasion of its £4.4 million facelift was a confrontation with the animal-rights lobby. Just two weeks before the grand re-opening last month, animal-rights group Peta condemned the Arts Centre’s mild-mannered artist in residence, Francis Upritchard, for “glorifying death and pain”, comparing her to the Roman Emperors who threw the Christians to the lions. What prompted this tirade was a small sculpture of a monkey made by the 27-year-old New Zealander from some unidentified animal fur bought from a flea market in South London. The fact that pelt’s first owner had not died at the artist’s hands was of no concern to the Peta hardliners who declared that “buying the fur second-hand may not seem as bad but...society now finds this sort of thing repugnant.” Undeterred, Ms Upritchard, last year’s winner of a Beck’s Futures nomination, is continuing to make art from old bits of animal. “What I do is more a critique of taxidermy than anything else...I am recycling old furs that have already been used, it’s about using what is already there...The taxidermist I work with took me through all the ethics, and the snake I am stuffing at the moment was raised in captivity and died naturally—if people want to kick up a fuss they should do it about battery hens.”

Bloomberg goes back to art school

While art schools seem set on corporatising their image, in a rare reversal, a corporately funded gallery has taken it upon itself to play host to an art school. The Bloomberg Space at 50 Finsbury Square is no ordinary corporate space. So, for the next six weeks throughout this month and into March, this gallery, which occupies the ground floor of Bloomberg’s London HQ, will effectively become an art school, with practical workshops in painting, sculpture, film making and writing, as well as one-on-one tutorials, artist’s residencies and continuous displays of the work produced. Those involved include artists Adam Chodzko, Keith Wilson, and Jeff McMillan; Ikon Gallery director Jonathon Watkins; British Museum’s James Putnam, and writer and critic J.J. Charlesworth, who will be co-editing a weekly publication covering the project’s progress. Look out also for Jetsam’s Wednesday lunchtime slot there, presenting a weekly “Desert island art” series, where a range of art world luminaries will be presenting their favourite works of contemporary art, a book, and a luxury (see gallery@bloomberg.net).

Body language at White Cube

Christmas may now seem far off, but undimmed is Jetsam’s memory of White Cube’s “dress to sparkle” Christmas bash, where the deceptively low-key environment of a converted pub in Exmouth Market was transformed by lavish catering and a close adherence to the festive dress code, most notably by the gallery’s two alpha males: Jay Jopling, resplendent in Bling necklace, and the ever-game Tim Marlow, sporting a silver fright wig and provocatively placed giant bauble (Gavin Turk also merits an honorary mention for his black, diamanté-studded Joe Casely Hayford cowboy shirt). Fuelled by industrial amounts of alcohol, proceedings went into overdrive with a live show from legendary 80s disco outfit Imagination (above), who, led by formidable front man Leee John, soon got everyone acting out their first hit, “Body talk”, with some female staff of White Cube burying their heads in parts of band members that respectable gallery girls rarely reach.

Lisson says goodbye to Pilar Corrias

The Lisson Gallery is also no slouch on the party front and similarly took over a public house for their festive knees-up that also served as a farewell bash for long-serving Lisson director Pilar Corrias who, after a decade at the gallery, has decided to set up on her own as an independent dealer and consultant. However, while she is no longer an official member of the gallery, Ms Corrias is too indispensable for the Lisson to lose her completely, and for the time being she is continuing to work with the gallery artists Douglas Gordon, Christine Borland and Juliao Sarmento who were her special responsibility. She is also working in conjunction with the Lisson Gallery and Anish Kapoor on a British Memorial Garden in New York to commemorate the victims of 9/11.

Writing on the wall for Hirst

While there was no sign of Damien Hirst at White Cube’s yuletide bash, there was a pre-Christmas sighting of him in the environs of Carnaby Street where he was to be found partying along with Ronnie Wood and drum-and-bass king Goldie at Santa’s Ghetto, a counter-culture extravaganza organised by Pictures on Walls. Here the King of Britart purchased the entire display of 15 brand-new prints by maverick graffiti artist Banksy, and was overheard advising Banksy (who designed the cover for Blur’s album “Think tank”) not to part with his early work. A subject in which Hirst, after recently reclaiming his back catalogue from the vaults of Charles Saatchi, has a special interest.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Gagosian grows and grows'