Thomas Dane Gallery Opens in Naples.

Thomas Dane Gallery represents some of today’s most important contemporary artists. Thomas Dane Gallery has developed its contemporary international programme, and the roster of exhibitions showcase a wide range of media including sculpture, installation, painting, video, film and photography. Thomas Dane Gallery exists in two spaces at 3 and 11 Duke Street St. James’s, London, and will open a third space in Naples in early 2018.

You started your career in art as an adviser?

I had my own niche. I call myself a dealer.  I backed some artists’ projects I believed in.

For instance?

“In and Out of Love” by Damien Hirst in Woodstock Street in London in 1991.

When did you open your gallery?

It took me a long time. First I worked on different projects and collections. Like Peter Simon who has a company called Monsoon. We built a collection of largely non-Western art, from African, to South American to Asian. Then in 2004 I opened a gallery in Duke Street St. James’s.

Why did you open a gallery?

I opened a gallery because the artist Steve McQueen asked me to represent him, so I had to build a gallery around him.

London is a good place for you?

A very central place and with the opening of the Tate Modern it brought a lot of attention and energy to London. The art market was very good until 2008 and then a couple of years were difficult. Then people came back to collect, but maybe with a more financial angle.

What kind of people?

It became more global.

“To open a gallery in New York or LA is just to follow the crowd.”

Thomas Dane Gallery, Naples

Now the big news is that on January 24th you open a new gallery in ‘Casa Ruffo’ in Naples. How come?

I was looking for interesting ways to find new space for artists to show in. Naples is a city that I find fascinating and so do many artists. I am opening a space for artists, not primarily for collectors.

Naples is a very well-known city but quite peripheral in the world of contemporary art isn’t it?

I go back to the sense that for artists it is a city where they will be excited to show, because of the layers of history. It is such an extraordinary city. It feels like Europe and also outside Europe, more exotic. It’s also that to open a gallery in New York or LA is just to follow the crowd.

And you feel different from the main stream?

I want to try and create a different path.

In what sense?

A different experience for the artist and myself. I also think that Naples has a rich history of showing contemporary art. For example the great gallery of Lucio Amelio showed many well-known contemporary artists. Also the Museo Madre, whose director is Andrea Viliani, who is running an extraordinary programme of contemporary art.

Are you going to show Italian artists too?

I hope so, in the future. We already represent two Italian artists, Marisa Merz and Luisa Lambri.

What other artists do you represent?

Steve McQueen (UK), Cecily Brown (UK and NY), Glenn Ligon (American) and others…

“Naples has a rich history of showing contemporary art.”

What kind of art is contemporary art today?

It is very plural as artists, work in film, painting, installation etc… a plural world.

Today how do you establish the concept of talent, great art, masterpiece?

I think that it is difficult. It’s individuals, not movements. It’s through instinct and through knowing the artist and through knowing certain environments. I feel comfortable making decisions in certain areas. For example, I know Steve McQueen’s work so well and to me I know he is a great artist of our time.

Is he going to show in Naples?

Yes, we don’t have a precise date, but our first show of 5 artists will include him.

Why 5 artists?

Because we have 5 exhibition rooms and we are showing a cross section of artists in the gallery.

Are you going to spend much time in Naples?

I would love to, I hope to and I think I need to. But we have an Italian director, Federica Sheehan, who had experience working in Turin and Naples.

How many shows are you going to do?

We plan to do three shows a year. In London we do six or seven.

Thomas Dane Gallery, Naples

Steve McQueen, Running Thunder, 2007. Film still. Image courtesy the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery.


Kelley Walker, Untitled, 2008

Naples and beyond

Cecily Brown, The Baptism, 2015. © Courtesy of Cecily Brown

Glenn Ligon, Double America, 2012. Photographer: Farzad Owrang ©Glenn Ligon; Image courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York, Regen Projects, Los Angeles, and Thomas Dane Gallery

“There are too few true collectors and too many speculators.”

Do you go to fairs?

Yes, we have booths in Art Basel, Basel Hong Kong, Frieze London and Frieze Masters London.

Are the fairs very useful?

A few are useful; too many becomes problematic and exhausting.

Hong Kong because Asia is the new frontier?

Because Asia is interesting. The Chinese are becoming more and more interested in international contemporary art, but also there is a sense of excitement about the possibilities for art. Artists, spaces opening, they are becoming more and more sophisticated in their choices and understanding.

Are there too many museums of contemporary art?

Too few great museums of contemporary art.

Do you think that prices are exaggerated in contemporary art?

Yes, for some artists they are, but there are many good artists that you can buy relatively cheaply. Too much is focussed on a few artists, some deservedly so and some not. There are too few true collectors and too many speculators.

Is this new?

I think that when you expand the art world it does not mean that you expand the number of good artists or good collectors. They remain few.

This is one of the main reasons why you chose Naples?

In a sense, yes. It is about not necessarily wanting to appeal to everybody, but there are great museums and sights – from Herculaneum, to Capodimonte, to the archaeological Museum – that should be much better known, but also remind us of the history of art, which in this contemporary world is important.

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