Bernard Jacobson Gallery, 28 Duke Street St. James’s, London SW1Y 6AG
www.jacobsongallery.com Instagram: @jacobsongallery
Bernard Jacobson started his career in London in the 1960s as a journalist, leading him to befriend many artists, and set up his own gallery in 1969. In the 70’s he had spaces in New York and LA as well as London. The gallery moved from Cork Street in 2015 into what was once an underground car park in St James’s – a modest frontage hides a cavernous interior. During over half a century of running his eponymous gallery, Bernie – still lively and engaging at 79 – has developed a firm vision. He favours the classic 20th century modernist lineage of France and America and dismisses most recent art as substituting business calculation for exploratory passion, leading to ‘useless artists who are great salesmen making vacuous works’. In line with that, he’s often showed Matisse, Braque, Miro, Calder, Lichtenstein and Sam Francis, for example, but I’d see his signature artists as Robert Motherwell (whom he sees as the 20th century’s leading American artist) and William Tillyer (also considered a great artist: ‘as Braque took over from Cézanne’s unfinished project, so Tillyer continues where Braque left off’). Those strong opinions feed into an exhibition programme unlike any other, mixing the historic with elderly male artists, with no regard for current trends: the 15 ‘gallery artists’ consist of nine estates plus Bruce McLean (79), Tillyer (84), Larry Poons (85), Ed Ruscha (85), Frank Stella (86) and Marc Vaux, whose 90th birthday is celebrated by the gallery’s current retrospective. It’s well worth catching: I may not completely agree with Bernie about everything, but I do believe Vaux should be more widely celebrated.
London’s gallery scene is varied, from small artist-run spaces to major institutions and everything in between. Each week, art writer and curator Paul Carey-Kent gives a personal view of a space worth visiting.