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(Detail) Gilbert & George. Smashed, 1972. © Gilbert & George. Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

Thaddaeaus Ropac Gallery Opens in London 0

On the evening of 27 April, the art world’s epicenter could be found in London; more specifically, at 37 Dover Street, one of London’s most beautiful buildings and now home to the new Thaddaeaus Ropac Gallery. This is the Thaddaeaus Ropac Gallery’s third venture outside of its home city, and its fifth space in Europe (with two in Salzburg, and two more in Paris). One of the most influential gallerists in the world, Ropac is able to bewilder even those who tend to think that, in the current art scene, surprises have become few and far between.

Read in the Archive: An interview with Austrian gallerist, art dealer and art collector - Thaddaeus Ropac

The opening of his gallery in Paris’ urban commune of Pantin in 2012 was one of the most talked-about events that autumn, loudly reverberating in terms of both its architectonic splash and exhibitionary impact. The London affiliate is no less impressive – the gallery takes up four floors of the 18th-century building that originally served as the residence of the Bishop of Ely. Currently on view is the expansive opening program consisting of four separate exhibitions, all ongoing through 29 July.

Gilbert& George. Video still from A Portrait of the Artists as Young Men. 1972. 7 min. Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

Gilbert & George
Drinking Pieces & Video Sculpture 1972-73

This iconic artistic duo (who are both in their seventies now) serves as a dependable cornerstone for Thaddaeaus Ropac London to base their opening upon. Not only because this is London, in whose art scene Gilbert & George have historically played a major role, but also due to the artists’ longstanding relationship with the gallery. “Drinking Pieces” is made up of photographs depicting Gilbert and George’s drunken celebration at the Balls Brothers wine bar after having made their first art sale, and is the most direct presentation of the duo’s working method: using real experiences and episodes with which to create their art. The accompanying text explains that this is a work ensconced in English melancholia, as it reflects the UK’s social and political climate of the time – worker strikes, unemployment, and violence stemming from the unrest in Northern Ireland.

Read in the Archive: An interview with British artists Gilbert & George

Three video sculptures have also been included: “A Portrait of the Artists and Young Men”, “In the Bush”, and “Gordon’s Makes Us Drunk”, whose soundtracks contain birdsong, the sounds of a storm, Edward Grieg’s idyllic “Morning”, and Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance”. Accompanied by music, Gilbert and George smoke, stroll, and have drinks. In the early 1970s, video art was still a relatively new art form, and its use indicates Gilbert & George’s wish to reach as large an audience as possible.

The exhibition is located on the first floor of Ely House.

Dan Flavin.
 Untitled. 1964–1974. Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac  

Minimal Art From the Marzona Collection

German art collector Egidio Marzona is a rather unique individual. Once could say that he is an archivist of 20th-century art. Having begun collecting in the 1960s, Marcona has created one of the world’s most encompassing collections of conceptualism, minimalism, and Arte Povera. One can currently see some of the most iconic works created by these art movements in the Ely House library, in the exhibition featuring artistic pioneers such as Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Richard Serra, Lee Lozano, Sol LeWitt, Robert Ryman, Fred Sandback, and Richard Tuttle.

Read in the Archive: An interview with German art collector Egidio Marzona

This exhibition is not only an overview of some of the best pieces of minimalism and conceptualism, but also a story about art collecting. Each work is like an instrument with which once can discover both  Marcona’s personality and his long-term relationship with the person who created it. 

Joseph Beuys. Zwei Frauen, 1955. Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

Joseph Beuys: Sculpture And Early Drawings

Joseph Beuys has always been at the center of attention for Ropac. This is not the first time that Ropac has chosen this artist’s work to serve as a symbol for a moment in time, as Beuys’ work was also instrumental in the opening of his Pantin gallery. In London, the focus has been put on the role of the figure in Beuys’ oeuvre – early drawings engage in close dialog with a vivid example of Beuys’ sculpture, “Backrest of a fine-limbed person (hare-type) of the 20th Century AD”. Drawing was one of Beuys’ primary forms of expression. In the exhibition’s introduction, the following quote from Beuys is used to exemplify this overall concept (1984): “Drawing is the first visible form in my works...the first visible thing of the form of the thought, the changing point from the invisible powers to the visible thing...”

Oliver Beer playing Making and Breaking Tristan, Nov. 2nd 2016, Centre Pompidou, Paris. Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

Oliver Beer: New Performance and Sculpture

Before turning to the visual arts and film theory (having attended Oxford’s Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, and the Sorbonne – for film theory) , the young British artist Oliver Beer studied music. This earlier part of Beer’s life continues to expresses itself through the artist’s high sensitivity to sound and his deep interest in the relationship between sound, space and architecture, all of which manifests in his sculptural, performance, and film works.

Beer spends his time between Kent and Paris, but for the six months during which Ely House was being renovated, he lived in what is now the new Ropac Gallery. The studies of sound and architecture that Beer undertook at that time have now become one of the featured exhibits for the Gallery’s grand opening.

Ely House. 37 Dover Street, London. Photo: