Stuart Shave Modern Art, 23-25 Eastcastle Street, London, W1W 8DF April 2008
Modern Art is one of London’s leading small contemporary art galleries. The gallery deals in the primary art market, showing the work of a stable of young artists that have grown with the gallery which include: Eva Rothschild, Nigel Cooke, David Altmejd and Katy Moran.
Modern Art was one of the first galleries to move into Vyner Street in Bethnal Green in 1998. In 2006, Director of Modern Art Stuart Shave commissioned David Kohn to work on finding a new gallery space in the West End, reflecting the growth of the gallery, the desire to be closer to clients and the possibility of redefining his gallery spaces. The brief was for a precisely detailed and conceptually rigorous white cube gallery that would nonetheless reflect the particular character of the Modern Art.
Eastcastle Street, with its generous ground floor showrooms and proximity to Oxford Street, was once the centre of the rag trade. In the last few years the area has undergone a shift in identity with the departure of fashion retailers to the Far East, and the arrival of several East End art galleries. Modern Art’s arrival in the West End marked the beginning of a new phase in the gallery’s development, reinforced by the success of Nigel Cooke’s opening show, “ The New Accursed Art Club”.
The new gallery occupies the ground floor and basement of a modest six storey 50’s office building. The design approach was to exploit the positive attributes of the existing building and urban context to the gallery’s advantage. Engineering brick piers in the new shop front create a precise and suitably proportioned base to the brick clad structure above while the optically clear flush glazing accentuates the connection to the street. The layout of the galleries is like a house, with a deep entrance loggia, lobby and changes of direction at the entrance to each room, heightening the sense of remove from the street and restful calm.
David Kohn Architects designed the project to a high level of detail. The staff table, all ironmongery and the book supports were designed to compliment the Vitsoe shelving system chosen by the client. Consequently the interiors feel highly consistent and delicately balanced.