Hauser & Wirth, one of the biggest galleries in the world, with around a dozen locations and a bookstore on three continents, has recruited the head of a U.K. luxury department store to oversee its global strategic operations. Ewan Venters, the chief executive of Fortnum & Mason in London, will start as Hauser & Wirth’s first global chief executive officer in January 2021.
In the newly formed role, Venters will lead operations in Europe, Asia, and the United States. He will report to the gallery’s co-presidents Iwan and Manuela Wirth and Marc Payot as head of the executive board.
“Hauser & Wirth’s first priority has always been our daily work for our artists and our clients,” said Iwan Wirth in a statement. “Our business and the art world itself have grown dramatically in scale and velocity, and now that we are a global concern, it is essential to have a strong Chief Executive to lead our team and ensure that we can continue to focus on our first priority—and to do so with even more passion.”
The 48-year-old Scottish businessman has led Fortnum & Mason since 2012. During his tenure he oversaw a number of initiatives with contemporary artists, including a commission of new paintings by celebrated Chinese artist Zhang Enli, which were installed in the London flagship location in 2019. Earlier this year, Hauser & Wirth launched a collection of silk scarves designed by Zhang, who is represented by the gallery, in collaboration with the department store. (The collaboration was far from the gallery’s first foray into the luxury retail industry, however; its online shop offers a high-priced array of artist-designed homeware including a Guillermo Kuitca jigsaw puzzle and $950 Arshile Gorky cashmere blanket.)
Over the past 28 years, the Zürich-based gallery has expanded rapidly, opening locations in Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, and elsewhere. In June, Hauser & Wirth joined the wave of Manhattan-based galleries opening temporary exhibition spaces on New York’s Long Island.