NEW YORK—After more than five decades of specializing in artworks ranging from Old Masters to 19th-century sporting art to Impressionist paintings, the Richard Green Gallery in London is broadening its exhibition program and opening a major new gallery space to reflect its growing focus on modern 20th-century British art.
“There is a very good market for modern British paintings, including works by Ben Nicholson, Patrick Heron and Frank Auerbach,” says Jonathan Green, Richard Green’s son, who, with his younger brother Matthew, will codirect the new gallery. “We’ve been involved with these works for some time—10 or 15 years. The time has come to give them their own space.”
The new gallery, tentatively scheduled to open in November, is across from the original Richard Green Gallery, on New Bond Street, in a six-story building next door to Sotheby’s that the dealers have purchased outright. (The Greens rent their existing space.)
The gallery has hired classicist architect George Saumarez Smith of ADAM Architecture to design the building. For its facade, Scottish sculptor Alexander Stoddart is creating three bas-reliefs carved in limestone that illustrate scenes from Homer’s Odyssey. The scenes, which depict the blind seer’s prophecy for Odysseus, from Book XI, “are presented as an allegory for the development of modern art to the present day,” according to a statement from the gallery.
Jonathan Green, whose official title is deputy executive chairman of the galleries, says works by artists such as Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth have been “undervalued for a very long time.” At the same time, he says, European modernist artists like Amédée Ozenfant and Josef Albers “are coming into their own,” with respect to the market. “They are as good as anybody out there.”
He has worked for Richard Green Gallery since 1984 and also currently serves on the board of trustees of the annual TEFAF art fair in Maastricht, the Netherlands, and is cofounder and director of Master Paintings Week, held annually in London.
Green is an active presence at the major biannual auctions in New York and London. He completed Christie’s Fine Art Course in the early 1980s and worked as a porter at Sotheby’s London, joining its Impressionist and Modern Art department in 1983.
Of the modern British works the gallery plans to show, Green says, “We have a good stock in them that we have built up over many years. They are currently exhibited with our Old Masters and 19th-century works, and that is fine. But they will look even better across the road, on their own.”