Towards the end of 2011 I wrote enthusiastically about the increase in the number of commercial galleries, from 16 in 2008 to 37. By 2012 the number peaked at around 54, but there has been a big fallout over the last five years, and we are now down to around 32 spaces.
Also, these figures don’t take into account the many galleries that came and went during this period: I have noted over 60 gallery closures over the last six years.
There are many reasons for this falling off, the massive increases in West End rents and business rates, that has affected art galleries all over central London, being an important factor. While one reads daily about auction records being smashed and vast sums of money being paid for paintings at the rarefied top end of the market, these sales are made to a small coterie of international collectors/investors, and the works often never leave the auction house’s warehouse, before being sold again. These headline sales have little effect on smaller galleries, that often struggle.
The business model of the art world has also changed dramatically in the last ten years: many dealers are eschewing the traditional gallery set up, in favour of a modest office/showroom, and spending the money saved on a much bigger presence at the increasing number Art Fairs, all over the world. These “Art Malls” guarantee that, with luck, not only their clients, but all the other galleries’ clients will see what they have to offer.
The art boom in Fitzrovia never seemed to gain traction as an entity, compared to somewhere like the New York district of Chelsea. There were initiatives to promote the area as an art hub, such as Fitzrovia Lates, but they fizzled out long ago. I like to think that what we are seeing is a helpful “correction” in a market that grew too quickly, and we do still have some stunning and innovative art spaces in our manor, showing stand out work.
Fitzrovia art galleries
Alison Jacques Gallery, 18 Berners Street (http://www.alisonjacquesgallery.com)
Arup Phase 2, 8 Fitzroy Street (http://www.arup.com/phase 2)
Bartha Contemporary, 25 Margaret Street (http://www.barthacontemporary.com)
Building Centre, Store Street (http://www.buildingcentre.co.uk)
Caroll / Fletcher, 56-57 Eastcastle Street (http://www.carrollfletcher.com)
Coningsby, 30 Tottenham Street (http://www.coningsbygallery.com)
Gallery Different, 14 Percy Street (http://www.gallerydifferent.co.uk)
Edel Assanti, 17A Newman Street (http://www.edelassanti.com)
Fitzrovia Chapel, Pearson Square (http://fitzroviachapel.org)
Fitzrovia Gallery, 139 Whitfield Street (http://www.fitzroviagallery.co.uk)
Fold Gallery, 158 New Cavendish Street (http://www.foldgallery.com)
Framers Gallery, 36 Windmill Street (http://www.theframersgallery.co.uk)
Getty Images Gallery, 46 Eastcastle Street (http://www.gettyimagesgallery.com)
GRAD, 3-4A Little Portland Street (http://www.grad-london.com)
Josh Lilley, 44-46 Riding House Street (http://www.joshlilleygallery.com)
Nancy Victor, 6 Charlotte Place (http://www.nancyvictor.com)
Narrative Projects, 110 New Cavendish Street (http://narrativeprojects.com)
National Print Gallery, 56 Maple Street (http://www.nationalprintgallery.com)
Pi Artworks, 55 Eastcastle Street (http://www.piartworks.com)
Pilar Corrias, 54 Eastcastle Street (http://www.pilarcorrias.com)
Rebecca Hossack Gallery (1), 2a Conway Street (http://www.rebeccahossack.com)
Rebecca Hossack Gallery (2), 28 Charlotte Street (http://www.rebeccahossack.com)
Rosenfeld Porcini, 37 Rathbone Street (http://www.rosenfeldporcini.com)
RIBA, 66 Portland Place (http://www.architecture.com)
Saunders Fine Art, 20 Charlotte Street (http://www.saundersfineart.co.uk)
Store Street Gallery, 32 Store Street (http://www.storestreetgallery.com)
Tiwani Contemporary, 16 Little Portland Street (http://www.tiwani.co.uk)
T J Boulting, 59 Riding House Street (http://www.tjboulting.com)
Tristan Hoare, 6 Fitzroy Square (http://www.tristanhoaregallery.co.uk)
Woolff Gallery, 89 Charlotte Street (http://www.woolffgallery.co.uk)
Zari Gallery, 73 Newman Street (http://www.zarigallery.co.uk)