Christie’s International said its Haunch of Venison subsidiary will stop operating its two galleries and representing artists in March.
The gallery in Chelsea, New York’s major contemporary art hub, will close after its show, “How to Tell the Future from the Past,” ends March 2. Its London space, known as the Yard, will become a permanent exhibition and sales space for Christie’s private sales department.
Haunch of Venison showed both emerging and established artists such as Ahmed Alsoudani, Patricia Piccinini and Frank Stella, and curated exhibitions such as “Afro/Burri/Fontana” in New York and “The Mystery of Appearance,” focusing on Britain’s most important postwar painters, in London. In 2012, New York hosted the first exhibition of new work by German artist Gunther Uecker since the 1960s.
“The proposal is for Haunch of Venison to evolve into Christie’s private sales,” Emilio Steinberger, the gallery’s senior international director, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “Private sales at Christie’s have been growing exponentially and the decision was made that’s where the focus should be.”
London-based Christie’s said last month that private sales last year were 631.1 million pounds ($990 million), up 26 percent from the previous year. They represented 16 percent of business in 2012.
The restructuring will “affect a number of employees at Haunch of Venison, as well as some artists represented by the gallery,” closely held Christie’s said in an e-mail last night.
Christie’s spokesman Matthew Paton declined to confirm the total number of Haunch of Venison employees. Steinberger said there are 15 in New York.
The gallery was founded by art dealers Harry Blain and Graham Southern in 2002, named after the London courtyard (Haunch of Venison Yard) in which it was based. Christie’s bought the gallery in 2007 and had branches in London, Berlin and New York.
In 2010, the Berlin branch was closed. The same year, Blain and Southern left to start a new gallery, BlainSouthern. Several artists represented by Haunch of Venison, including Bill Viola, Anton Henning and Matt Collishaw, left with the dealers.
In New York, Haunch of Venison was initially housed at Christie’s headquarters in midtown. In 2011, it moved to Chelsea, taking over Yvon Lambert Gallery’s 6,000-square-foot space on West 21st Street and hiring Selldorf Architects to redesign it. Its former 20th and 21st floors space in midtown is now used by Christie’s private sales group.
“At the end of the day, the auction house is about maximizing profits,” said Todd Levin, director of Levin Art Group in New York. “To work as a primary gallery representing artists and estates is tremendously difficult. It’s a slow, incremental development of a career over many years and decades.”
The news was first reported by the Baer Faxt, an art market newsletter.
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