The Émigrés who transformed the British Art World
Interviews with the descendants of three émigré art dealers filmed by Andrew Snell, assisted by Eileen Hughes
Interviews conducted by Sue Grayson Ford
Catalogue of the Brave New Visions exhibition held at Sotheby’s, July/August 2019
Crane Kalman Gallery
Andrew and Sally Kalman describe their father’s brave attempt to open a modern art gallery in an old air-raid shelter in Manchester in 1949. In the early days, Andras Kalman used a sandwich-board for publicity and strapped Sutherland paintings and Moore sculptures to his car roof but with the timely support of L S Lowry he eventually made a success of it. He opened the Crane Kalman Gallery in Knightsbridge in 1957 featuring mainly modern British artists like Ben Nicholson. Kalman, who lost most of his family to the Holocaust, was also a pioneering collector of early British Folk Art and this collection is now housed at Compton Verney in Warwickshire.
René Gimpel tells the story of his family’s remarkable exploits during the second world war with the British Army at El Alamein and Monte Cassino and, undercover, with the Special Operations Executive, The Baker Street Irregulars. He reveals how the Gimpel Fils gallery was set up in 1946 using proceeds from the sale of old master paintings that had amazingly survived the Blitz hidden in a garage in Paddington. René believes it was precisely because they were outsiders with a different cultural heritage that so many Jewish émigrés from Europe chose to champion modern art after the war. He describes the privilege of working with artists, who, he says, have a different way of “reading images” and of working with clever, knowledgeable collectors like David Bowie.
Annely Juda Fine Art
“Hitler was a painter, but not a very good one.” With these words, perhaps not surprisingly, David Juda’s grandfather found himself imprisoned and his business appropriated by the Nazis. Annely, David’s mother even heard Hitler giving a speech at her school in Kassel in Germany but, David says, she was always eager to embrace the future and in later years showed no bitterness towards her homeland. She set up Annely Juda Fine Art in Soho with David in 1967 and they established a reputation for championing Central European Modernism and the new generation of British abstract artists. “Bad figurative art” said Annely “is a lot worse than any abstract art” and she earned in David’s words a reputation for being “honest, knowledgeable and correct,” a legacy he seeks to continue.
Opening Panel Discussion
This live video, from Sotheby’s in London, celebrates the exhibition Brave New Visions, which pays homage to the pioneering émigré dealers who revolutionised Britain’s art world. The panel discussion features Sir Nicholas Serota, Gill Hedley and René Gimpel, and moderator Monica Bohm-Duchen.