Top off-site art galleries in Europe

Geoff Hands  -  July 31, 2017

Are you taking a break from hectic city life? Don’t worry, perhaps your favourite art gallery is right around the corner…

A recent visit to Morena Di Luna in Hove, an extension of Maureen Paley from East London, lead to further considering the growing phenomenon of high quality off-site art galleries. On CFA we recently featured some of the best sculpture parks in Europe, which included Domaine Du Muy, a contemporary sculpture park in Var, just one hour’s drive from the well-established Fondation Maeght in Provence. The Côte d’Azur might continue to be a collector’s paradise – and the association with Picasso and Matisse is irresistible – but we see this slowly burgeoning development across Europe generally.

Paley’s new venture in the south of England might be the start of a new trend in the UK – many artists are already moving to various towns around the capital as studio rents increase – but a decision by a gallery organisation to move ‘out-of-town’ will not be wholly economic. For contemporary collections, the desire to extend and evolve in alternative spaces might reflect the increasing phenomenon of the installationist attitude to curatorship too. For example, Paulo Nimer Pjota’s placement of works in two Regency style rooms on the seafront in Hove intervenes in the space as much as displaying the particular artworks.

Hauser & Wirth has been featured on CFA twice before. Iwan and Manuela Wirth, who have galleries in Zurich, New York and London, joined the off-site art galleries community with a rural show space in Bruton, Somerset in 2014. Past exhibitions have included works by Louise Bourgeois, Jenny Holzer, Phyllida Barlow and Pipiloti Rist. Current and future shows include Rashid Johnson and Rita Ackermann. Piet Oudolf’s garden at H&W continues to mature and develop in a conceptual framework that combines art, design and (domestic) garden space with public interaction and enjoyment.

On the European mainland many off-site art galleries are now well established in locations that are typically enjoyed for touristic purposes and demonstrate that art from all eras can be appreciated almost anywhere. Here we take a small but significant selection of galleries from Monaco, Switzerland and Italy that show great stylistic diversity and social purpose across a range of art historical periods from the past 500 years:

De Jonckheere, dealers in Old Masters as well as Modern, was founded in Brussels in 1976, and moved to Paris in 1984. Now established in Geneva, an additional location in Monaco opened this summer. De Jonckheere specialise in Old Masters and Flemish art of the 16th and 17th centuries and expanded to Modern Masters in 2010. Lucio Fontana, Alexander Calder and René Magritte feature in the inaugural exhibition, ‘The Meeting of Masters’, alongside the Brueghel dynasty, Lucas Cranach the Younger, David Teniers, Francesco Guardi and many more Flemish Masters. The 20th century works are first viewed from the street with the older works, dedicated to Flemish painting, further inside. This reflects not just a conservation decision but also activates a sense of going back in time for visitors.

Also in Monaco the Moretti Gallery have collaborated with Simon Dickinson to present ‘Summer in Monaco: From Impressionism to Modern Art’ at the newly opened venue. Many readers of CFA will know the Moretti galleries in Florence and London and will have experienced excellent presentation standards at Frieze Masters (London) and at Fairs in Maastricht, New York and Florence. The current show in Monaco includes works by Picasso, Monet, Cézanne, Renoir and Munch; plus Boudin, Pissarro and Sisley.

Saint Moritz Art Masters celebrates its tenth annual art festival this year from August 25 to September 3. Robilant+Voena, with galleries in London and Milan, will present 12 works by David Hockney at their St. Moritz gallery (which opened in 2014). Also, representing the ‘Best of St. Moritz Art Masters’, a group exhibition of ten outstanding works curated by Robilant + Voena, will be shown at the Protestant Church of St. Moritz.

Currently, the St. Moritz gallery is featuring paintings by the Chilean artist Roberto Matta in, ‘On The Edge of a Dream’, that was previously shown at the Dover Street gallery in London. Past exhibitions in St. Moritz have featured André Masson, Georgio Morandi and a group show entitled, ‘Taddeo Gaddi to Lucio Fontana’, revealing the great diversity available from a truly international organisation.

Galerie Karsten Greve, with two Paris venues and another in Cologne, have its off-site gallery in St. Moritz featuring works by almost 20 artists including Louise Bourgeois, Lovis Corinth, Lucio Fontana, Jannis Kounellis, Catherine Lee, Qui Shihua, and Cy Twombly. The gallery concentrates on post-war and contemporary art and has forthcoming involvement in FIAC at the Grand Palais in Paris, Paris Photo 2017 and Art Basel Miami Beach in December.

Galerie Gmurzynska is another internationally renowned gallery that establishes St. Moritz on the European art map. With locations in Switzerland in Zürich and Zug, the gallery has specialised in modern and contemporary art as well as the Russian avant-garde since 1965 when they opened in Cologne. The gallery is also well established at the various Art Basel fairs and the ‘Summer Group Exhibition’ in St. Moritz includes works from ten major artists including Fernando Botero, Allen Jones, Kazimir Malevich and Alexander Rodchenko.

Ruedi Tschudi and Elsbeth Bisig founded the first Tschudi gallery in Glarus (south-east of Zurich) in 1985. At the end of 2002 they opened Galerie Tschudi in the centre of the Romanesque village of Zuoz, with a Richard Long sculpture exhibition. Less than 20km from St. Moritz, the Zuoz location has consequently replaced the Glarus gallery as the main exhibition space. There are two exhibitions showing now, featuring Not Vital and Dan Walsh. Vital is a Swiss artist and he is showing new paintings and sculptures inspired by snow. Walsh, a painter and printmaker from the USA, is showing several process-lead abstract paintings and sculptures with a pronounced minimalist aesthetic. The gallery also promotes essentially conceptual works with a passion for Land Art. Works by Richard Long, Andrea Büttner and Callum Innes are also available to view over the summer opening.

For several years, Monica De Cardenas has had an off-site art gallery in Zuoz, in addition to Milan and Lugano. The Zuoz exhibition spaces, amounting to 300 sq meters, are located in Chesa Albertini, a farmhouse dating from the 15th Century that has been renovated by architect Hans-Jörg Ruch. Currently there are two exhibitions: Markus Raetz’s sculptures and prints are displayed in the main space; with Michel Grillet’s Zen and landscape inspired gouache tablets in the Project Room.

The Galerie Canesso Lugano, located in the heart of the city’s historic centre, is a new cultural space dedicated to Italian Old Master paintings. Apart from its role as a point of reference for collectors, the gallery aims to attract a new, younger generation to the appreciation and collecting of classical paintings. With a career of over thirty years, Maurizio Canesso has chosen Lugano as the ideal location for the second branch of his long settled, Paris-based art gallery. This is a return to his roots in the city, which represents the ideal meeting point between Italy and Switzerland. The tradition of quality, exclusivity, and seriousness established by Canesso in Paris will also be the hallmark of the new Lugano gallery, to be managed on his behalf by art historian and photographer, Ginevra Ventimiglia Agliardi.

TornabuoniArte, dealers in Modern and Contemporary Art, were founded in Florence in 1981 and now have several galleries throughout Europe – including Milan, Paris and London. Outside of these major cultural centres, Tornabuoni has off-site art galleries in Forte dei Marmi in northern Tuscany, 110km west of Florence and Crans-Montana an Alpine resort high above the Rhone Valley in the Valais canton of western Switzerland.

Today Roberto Casamonti, his daughter Ursula and his son Michele, continuously work on the research and expansion of the most significant and historic artistic movements of the 20th century and of various contemporary artists. Well over 100 artists’ works, mostly but not exclusively Italian, from Renato Guttuso to Jannis Kounellis and Alberto Magnelli to Andy Warhol are regularly available. Tornabuoni Arte takes part in the most important international fairs of contemporary art, including Fiac in Paris, Tefaf in Maastricht, Art Basel, Frieze Masters (London) and Miart (Milan).

Laveronica arte contemporanea was founded in 2007 in the Sicilian town of Modica by Corrado Gugliotta. In 2016 Sveva D’Antonio, who initially joined the gallery as an assistant, became a partner in this dynamic gallery that promotes exhibitions that focus on the human condition through politically and socially oriented art. The most recent show, ‘Welcome to My Age of Anxiety’, featured the first solo exhibition in Italy by Maryam Jafri who exhibits internationally. The next show will be ‘Freedom Is A Constant Struggle’, from Black Panther graphic artist, Emory Douglas. Currently, Douglas has work included in two survey exhibitions in London – ‘Soul of a Nation’ at the Tate Modern and ‘California: Designing Freedom’ at the Design Museum.

Galleriacontinua has four main off-site art galleries including its first incarnation – a contemporary art gallery in San Gimignano, Tuscany (a one hour drive from Florence). Other galleries are based in Beijing (2005), Les Moulins, near Paris (2007), and Havana, Cuba (2015), which make the organisation thoroughly international in its outlook. Galleria Continua opened in San Gimignano in 1990, an initiative of Mario Cristiani, Lorenzo Fiaschi and Maurizio Rigillo. Occupying a former cinema, the gallery established itself immediately and flourished in an entirely unexpected location, away from major cities and modern urban centres. The exhibition programme is united in its diversity by demonstrating continuity between ages and cultures. At San Gimignano, three exhibitions are currently open: British artist, Antony Gormley’s figure-based, installation and architectural sculptures makes up, ‘Co-Ordinate’; Subodh Gupta’s sculptures and watercolours are gathered together as, ‘In This Vessel Lies The Philosopher’s Stone; and a group of Alejandros Campins’ architectonic, stage-like paintings is entitled, ‘Declaración Pública’. All three shows continue until 5th September 2017.

And finally, although Venice is clearly a major cultural centre for the visual arts, we could not exclude Victoria Miro Venice from this article. Normally associated with London locations, the Venice gallery opened in May 2017. This intimate gallery space is housed in a 17th-century building, in the former Galleria Il Capricorno (a well respected gallery that has shown Lucio Fontana, Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly in the past). Located in the heart of the San Marco district, Victoria Miro Venice started its annual programme with, ‘Chris Ofili: Poolside Magic’. The current show is entitled, ‘Alice Neel Uptown’, curated by author and drama critic Hilton Als, and includes a number of paintings and works on paper not exhibited before. This exhibition draws on the rich body of work created by Neel during the period in which she lived and worked in upper Manhattan, first in Spanish (East) Harlem, where she moved in 1938, and, later, the Upper West Side, where she lived from 1962 until her death in 1984.