PRINT May 2006

International News

Hans-Ulrich Obrist and Ralph Rugoff

IT IS MARCH 2006, AND WE’RE IN London—“the beating heart of Europe’s contemporary art scene,” as the New York Times puts it—and we’re touring the commercial galleries. Plush international dealerships hum to the north and west, increasingly slick indigenous operations cluster in the east, and myriad penurious venues percolate determinedly at various distances from the art scene’s main drags. The dynamism—whatever one might think of the art on display—is tangible.

In order to determine how all this effervescence is aerating the city’s institutional echelons, let’s say we go to the Hayward Gallery and the Serpentine Gallery, the leading public spaces in central London not overseen by Sir Nicholas Serota and his gimlet eye. What do we find? Monographic shows on Dan Flavin and Ellsworth Kelly, that’s what: two graceful, intelligently installed, historically unassailable, risk-free zones that

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