The Tradition of Preview Culture
Mid-Summer has finally graced London! The endless spells of glorious sunshine bring with them the joys of longer days, and with longer days comes an absolutely unmissable opportunity to get acquainted with the capital’s renowned art scene. Small galleries in Chelsea are a fantastic place to start, especially for those of you in the early stages of your art appreciation journey.
The “Private View” has been a long-standing tradition in the art world, but it is not as inaccessible as its name might suggest! Indeed, while some of these private viewings are an invitation-only affair, the majority follow the original “vernissage” model, meaning the event is actually open to everyone. It marks the official launch of an exhibition, giving buyers the ideal window to snap up that key piece before the tourists, as well as bringing the elite of London’s art society together to mingle and assess the works with champagne and canapes in hand.
However, for us, the best part of this age-old tradition is that these previews run after working hours, making them a perfect option for those in search of pre-dinner entertainment with a splash of culture. The drop in footfall affords you a rare opportunity slow down and immerse yourself in some fabulous art, whilst also gaining an exclusive look into the inner workings of the gallery itself.
Unique to these private viewings is the chance for a one-to-one chat with the artists themselves. If the artwork on show happens to be that of a living artist then it is standard etiquette for them to attend the private view, letting you delve into their work, its inspirations and their artistic pursuits for the future.
436 King’s Rd, Chelsea, London SW10 0LJ
Chelsea is superbly located for visiting some of London’s lesser-known but nonetheless sensational art museums. The Tanya Baxter Contemporary, for example, is both a leading art consultancy and gallery on the King’s Road, with its advisors providing unique investment opportunities in blue-chip art. Some key artists who have worked with this advisory include Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol, Tracey Emin, Marc Quinn and Banksy, to name just a few.
Pimlico Rd, Belgravia, London SW1W 8LS
Founded by Mark Ransom in 1990, the Ransom Gallery is ideally situated on Pimlico Road, putting it in the heart of Chelsea’s design district. Ransom is one of the capital’s most distinguished art dealers when it comes to contemporary European art and photography, immersing his clients in an impressive array of works from big names such as Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon and Rock Therrien. While revered by London society, the Ransom Gallery has also won international acclaim at top art fairs in Chicago, New York and St Tropez. It recently hosted a breathtaking exclusive exhibition by Alessandro Tofanelli, showcasing his brand-new beautiful metaphysical landscapes.
509 King’s Rd, Chelsea, London SW10 0TX
For 40 years, the Gagliardi Gallery on the King’s Road has grown to become one of the most influential galleries in the city, with its founder, Roberto Gagliardi, having gone on to oversee a number of other impressive projects throughout Europe. The gallery specialises in original art, meaning that it does not sell or buy prints or any other imitations so it can provide its clients with works that are completely authentic.
Kensington Gardens, London W2 3XA
In the heart of Hyde Park are the Serpentine Gallery and the Serpentine Sackler Gallery. They are unique among London museums in that they have traditionally invited a guest artist to design their summer pavilion, and this year Japanese architect Junya Ishigami has masterfully created an arching slate structure that has already featured in the Evening Standard! This masterpiece takes roofs as its point of inspiration, with the thousands of individual slates arranged to create a canopy that imitates nature and appears to emerge from the ground of the surrounding park.
Within the gallery walls, there are other more traditional exhibitions on display this summer: Faith Ringgold’s vibrant paintings tell harrowing yet empowering stories about black American history and the struggle for equal rights.
29-31 Catherine Pl, Victoria, London SW1E 6DY
Just on the edge of Chelsea is the Delfina Foundation, an independent non-profit foundation which promotes artistic experimentation. It is a highly inclusive institution, creating opportunities for both emerging and established artists, curators and authors. For the first ten years following its inception, it organized an annual exhibition for resident artists, helping them to take their first steps into the daunting process of exhibiting to the world.
Most of these previews occur in the evenings, typically on a Wednesday and Thursday but we highly recommend signing up to the mailing lists of one of the galleries below to get their latest agenda for the rest of the season:
Editor, Boutique London