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Gallery House

Back to fast and loose (my dead gallery)

 

In 1972 the German Government acquired a townhouse next door to the Goethe-Institut London located at 50 Princes Gate, Exhibition Road, with the idea of architecturally co-joining the two townhouses for the future expansion of the Institute. Until that happened Dr. Shultz, then acting Director of Goethe-Institut London, suggested to Sigi Krauss that he curate and present exhibitions at that unoccupied location.

After a site survey, which included many of the artists he had previously exhibited at his Sigi Krauss Gallery, he was encouraged to accept the offer. With the assurance from Dr. Shultz that he would operate "with a free hand," he accepted the offer and established Gallery House. From the beginning he insisted that the gallery never close, never charge admission, and never censor artists. He also insisted that Rosetta Brooks be his Co-Director, a position she accepted without pay. The inaugural show included works by Stuart Brisley, Gustave Metzger, and Marc Chaimowicz.

There were no salaries, and essentially no budget, except for a small stipend paid to Sigi Krauss in exchange for sorting the Institute's mail. Most international group shows were funded by the local arts councils or governments of the artists represented. Gallery House did secure funding from the Arts Council of Great Britain for some major shows, however, the scope of exhibitions presented there could not have happened without private cash donations, and the hard labor of staff, artists and dedicated volunteers.

Gallery House was 14 rooms on four floors, including a formal ballroom, and came to be known as "the house of fourteen galleries." There was also a garden terrace, a basement, an elevator, and an elaborate staircase. Every inch of interior and exterior space was utilized by the artists for the purpose of staging happenings, or exhibiting both static and kinetic works. The vastness of Gallery House allowed the presentation of multiple exhibits, happenings and installations on an ongoing basis.

 

 

Interior staircase, Gallery House; the sign on the wall reads in part "Victory to the people of Vietnam."

Interior staircase, Gallery House; the sign on the wall
reads in part "Victory to the people of Vietnam."

 

 

Some defining group shows included:

- 260 Miles from Here (the Düsseldorf Show)
- Six Israeli Artists
- Survey of the Avant-Garde in Britain in Four Parts, 18 Aug - 8th Sep, 1972.

Artists maintained great freedom of expression in being allowed to control the physical characteristics of a space to suit their specific projects and developing ideas.
Some examples of how space was used at Gallery House include:

More is Less; Jeffrey Shaw, Theo Botschuijver and John Latham.
An air structure installation in two rooms, where one room was filled with an inflatable structure that was slightly smaller than the room and visitors had to squeeze between it and the walls, and in another room a structure that was larger than the room covered all its surfaces and contours - here the visitors entered inside the structure.

Documentation sur le Territoire numéro 2 de la République Géniale, Robert Filliou.
The Up and Down Territory of the Genial Republic occupied the buildings elevator and stayed in tact until the very end of Gallery House.

The Delivery Room, George Brecht.
Located in the servants quarters on the fourth floor; the public was invited to deliver ideas, items, or any non-dangerous thing to add to the exhibit. There was a bed in this room, so it also served as Brecht's living quarters whenever he was in London. During the Delivery Rooms existence, Brecht would request permission from Filliou to pass through the Up and Down Territory of the Genial Republic via telegram.

A Survey of the Avant-Garde in Britain, Part 1.
David Medalla's foam sculptures were exterior installations, allowing the ever-generating soap foam to blow freely with the wind to the consternation of the neighbors.

The Centre of Behavioural Art, Stephen Willats, Director. Willats occupied an entire room on the top floor. The space served as a permanent, evolving installation and existed until the very end of Gallery House.

The Big Breather Project, John Latham. A sculptural piece installed in the stair well, filling that space from the ground floor to the top floor; this was the seminal idea of future Breather projects developed by Latham and was a permanent fixture in Gallery House until it closed.

 

 

(L-R) Sigi Krauss, John Blandy, John's wife (?), gallery visitors participate in David Medalla's Stitch in Time exhibit where visitors were invited to darn whatever they wished onto cotton sheets hung like hammocks in a room.

(L-R) Sigi Krauss, John Blandy, John's wife (?), gallery visitors participate in David Medalla's Stitch in Time exhibit where visitors were invited to darn whatever they wished onto cotton sheets hung like hammocks in a room.

 

 

Sigi Krauss and those who kept Gallery House running were honored to be a part of a vibrant arts scene. There was a lot of experimental art being developed; the examination of the intersection of science and art; social and environmental issues were being explored, and it was a politically turbulent time. Not only did the physical gallery space shape the art that was presented there, but the social and political times also shaped the work and those who were involved in it.

With mounting pressure from German government officials, in response to numerous politically controversial exhibitions, a formal law suit was filed against Sigi Krauss, and he was legally forced to close Gallery House and vacate the premises.

 

 

(L-R) Rosetta Brooks, Ulrike Rosenbach, Sigi Krauss, Flash reporter, Unknown, Darcy Lang. At the Künsthalle, Düsseldorf, organizing the 260 Miles From Here show.

(L-R) Rosetta Brooks, Ulrike Rosenbach, Sigi Krauss, Flash reporter, Unknown, Darcy Lang. At the Künsthalle, Düsseldorf, organizing the 260 Miles From Here show.

 

 

A very small sample of Artists who exhibited at the gallery included:


Theo Botschuijver
George Brecht
Stuart Brisley
Marc Chaimowicz
Roderick Coyne
Michael Druks
John Dugger
Michael Dye
Enrique Ehrenberg
Lesly Hamilton
Susan Hiller (artist's entry under the pseudonym 'Ace Possible')
Jeog Immendorf
John Latham
Mike Leggett
Bill Lundberg
David Medalla
Gustave Metzger
Annabel Nicolson
Joshua Neustein
Ian Parkinson
Sigmar Polke
William Raban
Ulrike Rosenbach
Jeffrey Shaw
Graham Stevens
John Stezaker
Jun Terra
Michael Upton
Stephen Willats

 

Sigi Krauss passing through a door way, Gallery House Sigi Krauss passing through a door way, Gallery House