Pace Gallery is well named. Founded by the super-influential art dealer Arne Glimcher in Boston in 1960, its move to Manhattan in 1963 helped build its reputation as a gallery that moves with the times, keeping pace with, nurturing and exhibiting many of the major and most interesting players in modern and contemporary art – think Hockney, Zhang Xiaogang and Bridget Riley. It also represents the estates of big names such as Alexander Calder, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko and Barbara Hepworth. There are now four Pace gallery spaces in New York City alone (including the new Bill Katz-designed gallery under Chelsea’s High Line, opening in October), one in Beijing and one by-appointment space on Lexington Street in Soho, London.
So news that Pace London director Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst – one of the most powerful figures in the UK art world (former director of Gagosian Gallery, chief international co-ordinator and curator of exhibitions at the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture in Moscow, and famously a dealmaker for Roman Abramovich and Dasha Zhukova) – is opening a new “flagship” Pace Gallery in Mayfair is news indeed. Especially when that space is 9,000sq ft of the splendid west wing of the 1870 building at 6 Burlington Gardens (first picture). The wing is not only part of (and owned by) the Royal Academy, but has been revived by the esteemed, Stirling Prize-winning architect and Royal Academician Sir David Chipperfield, who is currently also working on the grander scheme to renovate the eastern wing of this part of the Royal Academy, including the Keeper’s House.
The exhibition that launches Pace Mayfair to the public on October 4 is also exciting. Rothko/Sugimoto: Dark Paintings and Seascapes is the first commercial gallery presentation of Mark Rothko’s abstract expressionist work in London for 50 years. Black and grey paintings from the later part of his career (Untitled, 1969, in second picture) are displayed next to Hiroshi Sugimoto’s fascinating contemporary photographs of the sea meeting the sky – interesting juxtapositions that spotlight connections and affinities between the two artists.
That Pace Gallery is landing in Mayfair is a fillip to the London art world and adds more ballast to the city’s reputation as an art capital. Indeed, Pace’s president Marc Glimcher says, “We are delighted to take residence… in the heart of Mayfair and at the crossroads of the international art world. Pace’s expanded presence means we can reach the global audience that converges in London – from curators to collectors – but, most importantly, it enables us to better support our artists based in Europe and to present the work of important American artists in London, in some cases for the first time in decades.”
The timing, of course, is also spot on. There will be an influx of art lovers to Frieze London, which starts on October 11 (where, naturally, Pace will be represented), while the starter-friendly Affordable Art Fair in Battersea Park follows on the 25th.