Earlier today, Marian Goodman Gallery revealed that it would shutter its London space and pivot its British operations to a new exhibition model called Marian Goodman Projects. Citing uncertainty related to Brexit and the pandemic, the gallery, which also runs spaces in New York and Paris, said it wanted an approach that would allow it to be more flexible in London. To hear more about the decision, ARTnews spoke with gallery founder Marian Goodman by email.
ARTnews: What was the rationale behind closing the London space? Did it have anything to do with Brexit or the Covid crisis and the economic fallout from it?
Marian Goodman: Our rethinking of London actually began with Brexit and assessing its impact on the U.K.’s role in the greater E.U. market. We opened our gallery in Paris in 1995 and have been building our presence in Europe ever since. Our long-term investment in Paris has been significant and provides us with an advantage, especially now with the uncertainty and complexity that Brexit is causing for all galleries.
Covid is another major factor. The partial openings and looming re-closings are impeding traditional operations, and will do so for the foreseeable future. While online sales have accelerated, it’s not the same as in-person experiences. Closing our London space frees up resources and enables us to make strategic investments in line with the emerging environment. We love London and will continue to mount major exhibitions there through Projects. We will also maintain a dedicated team in the city, who will continue to work with our artists and clients there.
Were there upcoming exhibitions at the London gallery that have had to be canceled?
We did not have to make any cancelations. We had been keeping our 2021 program flexible and open; nothing had been finalized yet.
We learned a year ago that David Zwirner and Pace Gallery were both looking to open spaces in Paris. Do you think there might be a move away from London in light of Brexit?
Brexit has changed London’s role, so international galleries have no choice but to establish a strong presence in a major European city. Over the past decade we’ve seen Paris’s reemergence as a global center for contemporary art, both in terms of the art market and museums. I’ve felt it’s been the right place for my gallery since I first opened [in the city], some 25 years ago.
Does closing the London gallery reflect on the overall financial health of the gallery?
We are doing well, even in light of the challenges all galleries are facing. We have not laid off or furloughed any employees, nor have we made any pay cuts. Obviously, things are not the same as they were last year. Online sales have greatly increased and the artists we represent are always in strong demand.
You are currently in your 90s. Are there currently succession plans being discussed within the gallery?
Succession planning is both a strategy and an iterative process, and is progressing. I’m still enjoying my work and we have a great team in place. I have always taken the long-view and that is part of the gallery’s ethos that will carry us into the future.