PRINT January 2009

International News

the Whitechapel Gallery’s expansion

WELL INTO THE 1980s, visitors to the East End of London would have been hard-pressed to imagine that this predominantly working-class area—hardly a magnet for cultural tourism in Thatcher’s Britain—would become a hub for contemporary art. If a few brave gallerists were already in the East End—such as Robin Klassnik of Matt’s Gallery, which opened in 1979, and Maureen Paley, who opened her first space in 1984—the indefatigable Whitechapel Gallery was the institution that made the district an unmissable if offbeat destination for cognoscenti in search of quality exhibitions of exciting new art. Yet that was pre-’90s London, in which there was no Tate Modern, no White Cube gallery, no Iniva, no Frieze Art Fair—the YBAs were practically still smoking in the bathrooms at Goldsmiths College—whereas nowadays no fewer than 180 galleries operate in the Whitechapel’s vicinity. Although many stretches

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