Cork Street through time, a history of innovation and scandal. The street that in-troduced major artists and avant garde movements to the UK.

1925
The Mayor Gallery opens at 18 Cork Street

The Mayor Gallery, owned by Freddie Mayor, is the first gallery to open on Cork Street, showing the work of the English and French painters.

In 1925 the gallery displayed works by Ivon Hitchens, Margeret Fisher Prout, Claude Flight and Paul Nash.

One of the first galleries to exhibit Surrealist art, it later contributes to the arrival of Ab-stract Expressionism and American Pop Art.

1933
The Mayor Gallery presents an exhibition by Max Ernst

1933
The Mayor Gallery first exhibits the work of Francis Bacon in a group exhibition

Bacon’s ‘Crucifixion’ (1933) appeared in a survey of contemporary art, arranged in con-nection with Herbert Read’s book ‘Art Now’.

1934
Unit One exhibition at The Mayor Gallery

Unit One is a group of modern artists set up by Paul Nash and includes architects, paint-ers and sculptors.

They held one exhibition at Mayor Gallery in 1933 that subsequently toured for the next two years, closing in Belfast in 1935.

Unit One is credited for establishing London as central to modernist and abstract art and architecture in the 1930s.

Unit One consisted of John Armstrong, John Bigge, Edward Burra, Frances Hodgkins, Paul Nash, Edward Wadsworth, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Wells Coates and Colin Lucas.

1936
The London Gallery opens at number 28

E.L.T. Mesens, the Belgian Surrealist and friend of Magritte, opens The London Gallery assisted by Roland Penrose, who later became a Founding Director of the ICA in Lon-don.

The gallery would later become the UK’s central hub for Surrealism, giving exhibitions to Max Ernst, Man Ray, Kurt Schwitters and Yves Tanguy.

In November 1937, The London Gallery caused a scandal when they opened an exhibi-tion at midnight, serving guests sausages and whisky.

In 1939, the gallery shows work by Mondrian and Kokoshka.

1936
The International Surrealist Exhibition opens on 11th June

The exhibition brings Surrealism to the UK for the first time.

The exhibition was held at No 5 Burlington Gardens, organised by Paul Nash, Henry Moore, Roland Penrose, Rupert Lee, Diana Brinton Lee, Hugh Sykes Davis, David Gas-coyne, Humphrey Jennings and McKnight Kauffer. Around 390 works and objects were displayed in the exhibition.

On the opening night, Sheila Legge stood in the middle of Trafalgar Square clothed in a wedding dress inspired by a Salvador Dalí artwork, her head obscured by a flower ar-rangement.

Although chastised by critics, the exhibition proves unexpectedly popular with the British public – over 2000 people attend the private view with around 1000 visitors following that.

At the private view, Dylan Thomas served cups of tea to guests. And Dalí delivered a lec-ture wearing a Diving Bell, almost suffocating and having to be rescued by the young po-et David Gascoyne.

1936
The Redfern Gallery, founded by Arthur Knyvett-Lee and Anthony Maxtone Gra-ham, relocates from 27 Bond Street to 20 Cork Street

Peggy Guggenheim opens her gallery Guggenheim Jeune at 30 Cork Street, above a pawn shop

The gallery’s opening exhibition was Jean Cocteau, curated by Marcel Duchamp, who acted as Guggenheim’s artistic advisor.

The works depicted pubic hair and were detained at Croydon Airport. Duchamp and Guggenheim had to convince customs to release the art, on the understanding that it was to be shown in a back room.

Kandinsky and Tanguy had their first UK exhibitions at Guggenheim Jeune.

1939
The outbreak of World War II

London’s commercial galleries all closed abruptly when the Second World War broke out.

Many of them, including The Mayor Gallery and The Redfern Gallery, reopened on Cork Street in the post-war years.

1945
Gallery Roland, Browse and Delbanco opens at 19 Cork Street

1955
The Piccadilly Gallery opens at 5a Cork Street

Founded in 1953 by husband and wife Godfrey and Eve Pilkington, in 1956 they were joined by Christabel Briggs who later became a partner.

The gallery cemented its reputation in the 1960s, championing Art Nouveau and 19th and 20th Century Symbolism.

In the 1970s, the Piccadilly Gallery held groundbreaking exhibitions of the Viennese Se-cessionists and German New Realists.

The gallery moved next door to 16 Cork Street in 1978.

1957
Victor Waddington opens his gallery on Cork Street

Exhibiting mainly Irish artists such as Jack Butler Yeats, he also showed small paintings and works on paper by artists including Matisse, Soutine, Rouault and Picasso.

Thanks to the influence of Leslie Waddington, Victor’s son, the gallery exhibited Ameri-can Colour Field artists, Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art.

Anthony Caro, John Hoyland and Patrick Caulfield all debuted at Waddington Gallery.

1966
Leslie Waddington opens his own gallery at 11-12 Cork Street

The legendary London dealer Leslie Waddington is often credited with transforming the contemporary art market, raising the profile of British artists internationally and global art-ists in London.

Leslie Waddington brought artists including Georg Baselitz, Jean Dubuffet, Francis Pica-bia and Barry Flanagan to the forefront and was the champion of rising stars such as Fio-na Rae, Ian Davenport and Lisa Milroy.

1973
James Mayor, son of Freddie, takes over as Director of The Mayor Gallery.

He is responsible for instigating key solo exhibitions in London for American artists in-cluding Eva Hesse, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Robert Ryman, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol and Tom Wesselmann.

1977
Browse & Darby opens at 19 Cork Street

Roland, Browse and Delbanco’s lease at 19 Cork Street fell through and their partner-ship dissolved.

William Darby and Lillian Browse then set up a gallery together at the same address.

Although Lillian Browse retired in 1981, the gallery remains open today.

1982
Stoppenbach & Delestre Ltd establish their gallery at 25 Cork Street

Robert Stoppenbach and François Delestre’s gallery specialises in leading French artists spanning the 19th and early 20th centuries.

1983
Robert Fraser (‘Groovy Bob’) arrives on Cork Street

Having spent time in New York and London, Robert ‘Groovy Bob’ Fraser was an influen-tial art dealer who was also a central figure on London’s social scene.

His previous gallery on Duke Street was very influential but in this second space he pro-moted the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring.

1985
Victoria Miro takes over from Robert Fraser

Victoria Miro opens her gallery and exhibits emerging and contemporary artists including Ian Hamilton Findlay, Marina Abramović, and Richard Tuttle.

After 15 years on Cork Street, Victoria Miro Gallery moves to London’s East End.

1985
Grey Organisation attacks Cork Street

The radical art organisation stages an “art terrorist action,” vandalising some of the gal-leries on Cork Street with buckets of grey paint.

Grey Organisation members include Toby Mott, Daniel Saccoccio, Tim Burke and Paul Spencer.

1993
Messum’s move into 28 Cork Street

Founded by David Messum in 1963, the gallery relocates to Cork Street in 1993.

Messum’s pioneered British Impressionism as well as the Newlyn and St Ives Schools.

1994
Beaux Arts Gallery opens

The gallery exhibits Modern British and Contemporary painters and sculptors in its Cork Street location.

1995
David Bowie holds an exhibition of his work titled ‘Afro / Pagan’ at The Gallery, 28 Cork Street

Sketches of Iggy Pop were displayed alongside miniature silver sculptures of Bowie’s wife Iman.

The works were priced from £350 and the Saatchi Gallery purchased pieces from the ex-hibition.

1995
Alan Cristea opens his gallery at number 31 Cork Street

Previously a Director at Waddington Gallery, Alan Cristea buys Waddington Graphics and launches his gallery on Cork Street.

In 2007 the gallery expands, encompassing 34 Cork Street.

2000
Flowers Gallery opens at 21 Cork Street

Flowers Gallery was established in 1970 and exhibits contemporary painting, sculpture, photography and prints.

2004
Bernard Jacobson Gallery moves into 6 Cork Street

The gallery has held major exhibitions of international artists including Robert Mother-well, Pierre Soulages, Ben Nicholson, Kurt Schwitters and Sam Francis.

2006
Waddington Gallery hosts the first exhibition of work by Fausto Melotti in the UK

Fausto Melotti was a lifelong friend of Lucio Fontana but was lesser known international-ly. The exhibition helped put him on the map.

2009
Howard Hodgkin exhibits two 20ft long paintings he created at Alan Cristea Gallery

Two monumental works by Sir Howard Hodgkin titled ‘As Time Goes By’ were amongst Hodgkin’s most ambitious and complex paintings.

2011
Waddington Galleries becomes Waddington Custot

Leslie Waddington forms a partnership with French art dealer Stephane Custot.

2016
Cork Street’s redevelopment commences, creating the most prestigious, dedicat-ed street for art in the world

The Pollen Estate spearheads a major initiative aimed at restoring Cork Street’s innova-tive reputation, doubling the existing gallery space.

2016
House of Voltaire first pops-up at Cork Street

House of Voltaire is Clapham not-for-profit gallery Studio Voltaire’s art and design store, drawing inspiration from influential artist’s shops including Keith Haring’s Pop Shop and the Bloomsbury Group’s Omega Workshop.

It offers a new way for audiences to engage with art while benefitting the gallery’s exhibi-tion and education programmes, directed by the inimitable Joe Scotland.

Further Voltaire happenings take place in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

2018
Artists for Artangel at Cork Street

Cork Street hosts a fundraising exhibition for Artangel, featuring works by Jeremy Deller, Taryn Simon, Wolfgang Tillmans, Roni Horn, Christian Marclay, Susan Hiller and many more.

Artangel enables works with a sense of magic and otherworldliness about them, in unex-pected places. It has helped artists realise more than 125 exceptional projects since 1991.

Rachel Whiteread’s Turner Prize winning House (1993-4), Break Down by Michael Landy (2001) and Roger Hiorns’ Seizure (2008) have all been made possible through the organisation – the latter using 90,000 litres of copper sulphate liquid to crystallise a south London council flat.

2019
Condo at 22-24 Cork Street

The international collaborative exhibition is welcomed for the first time.

An exchange between nine galleries takes place: Koppe Astner, Project Native Inform-ant, Mother’s Tankstation and Dan Gunn host Berlin’s Sandy Brown, Société and Kow, Galerie Max Mayer (Düsseldorf) and Commonwealth & Council (Los Angeles).

Established by Vanessa Carlos (Carlos/Ishikawa) in London, 2016, Condo has run sev-eral acclaimed cycles.

A total of 52 shows happen at 18 galleries overall, from Corvi-Mora and Herald St to Maureen Paley, Pilar Corrias and Sadie Coles HQ.

2019
Block Universe: Sophie Jung at Cork Street

Sophie Jung presents a major performance and installation as part of the year’s Block Universe festival.

Founded by Louise O’Kelly in 2015, Block Universe is an annual platform for fostering and encouraging work in the live medium, run by an all-female team.

Cork Street acts as a festival hub while premieres, talks, screenings and workshops hap-pen all over the city.

2019
Wong Ping: ‘Heart Digger’ at 5-6 Cork Street

Coinciding with his show at Camden Arts Centre, his first solo presentation at a UK insti-tution, Wong Ping presents new inflatable sculptures and video installations at Cork Street.

A self-taught animator, Ping began making clips in his spare time while working as a digi-tal editor for a TV studio in Hong Kong. Releasing content directly through YouTube and Vimeo, his work attracted a cult online following.

Ping was the inaugural recipient of the Camden Arts Centre Emerging Artist Prize at Frie-ze 2018.

2019
Goodman Gallery opens at 26 Cork Street

Post re-activation, Goodman Gallery is the first new permanent gallery to arrive in Cork Street.

A pre-eminent gallery on the African continent, Goodman Gallery was pivotal in shaping contemporary South African art from the time of apartheid.

Its artists include Candice Breitz, Alfredo Jaar, William Kentridge, Shirin Neshat and Da-vid Goldblatt. Goodman has brought a new generation of contemporary names to Lon-don, such as Haroon Gunn-Salie, Kapwani Kiwanga, Tabita Rezaire and Mikhael Su-botzky.

Liza Essers is Goodman’s owner/Director since 2008. She has brought over 30 interna-tional artists to the Goodman roster, of which 50% are women. The London space com-plements its two existing galleries in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa.

2020
Art in the pandemic

The art world reacts as Covid-19 shuts everything down.

Nnena Kalu’s exhibition (as part of Studio Voltaire Elsewhere) stops abruptly in March. Her installation at 30 Burlington Street, worked on daily over the course of the show, be-comes frozen in time.

In May, as the UK continues to quarantine, The Mayor, Flowers, Waddington Custot and Goodman galleries launch online exhibitions.