The art scene in the English metropolis is flourishing and proving more multifaceted than ever before. In addition to classic exhibitions by the old masters, London is developing into a trendsetter and an increasingly important destination for contemporary art. As well as the Tate Modern, the world’s biggest museum for modern art, numerous noteworthy galleries have established themselves in the city. One of the most renowned addresses for modern, contemporary art is the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park.
In 1934 a tea pavilion was built in the royal gardens in London. For a few decades it was actually a place for drinking tea, until 1970 when the Arts Council of Great Britain founded the Serpentine Gallery and moved into the premises. The gallery has been exhibiting contemporary and modern art ever since: including works by noteworthy artists like Man Ray, Henry Moore, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Paula Rego, Bridget Riley, Allan McCollum, Anish Kapoor, Wolfgang Tillmans, Gerhard Richter, Gustav Metzger, Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons.
On the ground of the entrance to the Serpentine Gallery is an artwork by Ian Hamilton Finlay, created in cooperation with Peter Coates, dedicated to Lady Diana, who was the gallery’s patron. The art gallery, which is open to the general public, is financed by the British government and private sponsors like Lars Windhorst and Nicolas Berggruen. Together with his business partner Rob Hersov and other big London names like Marlon Abela, Lars Windhorst (Sapinda GmbH) sits on the advisory board of the Serpentine Gallery.
Thanks to generous donations from supporters, the gallery’s director Julia Peyton-Jones is able to curate a progressive exhibition concept with the funds provided by the financiers, banks and businesses. As well as regular lectures and discussions for adults, the focus is on dialogue with children and young people from the surrounding neighbourhoods. The most prestigious project is dedicated to architecture. Every summer the enterprising director commissions an international architect to design a pavilion outside, which serves as a café during the day and a lecture hall in the evenings.
This year the Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto constructed a surreal cloud-like formation consisting of a white lattice of steel poles and circular acrylic discs (to protect from the unpredictable British weather). With his extraordinary design he has succeeded in merging the building into and with its surroundings. “It is a really fundamental question, how architecture is different from nature – or how architecture could be part of nature, or how they could be merged. Where are the boundaries between nature and artificial things?” said Sou Fujimoto, who is the youngest architect to have ever designed a temporary structure for the Serpentine Pavilion.
The building was opened with an impressive celebratory reception at the beginning of June to much acclaim. Along with art connoisseurs and international actors, the sponsors of the gallery were also in attendance, including entrepreneurs Lars Windhorst and Rob Hersov, as well as Olivier de Givenchy and David Sproul.