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Signals (London)

Back to fast and loose (my dead gallery)


" From 1964-66 Signals London was a major showroom of the international avant-garde. Its premises were bigger than the old ICA in Dover Street and its Newsbulletin was far more lavish than the ICA's small publication. Artists like Takis, Camargo, Soto, Kenneth and Mary Martin, Li Yuan-chia, Gerhard von Graevenitz and Lygia Clark had opportunities to exhibit on a large scale, and to experiment, which they did not yet have in London or in Paris. An international and diverse public sought out the gallery. The first two small-scale 'Pilot Shows' held at Cornwall Gardens, even before the move to Wigmore Street, were attended by 6,854 peopleaccording to records kept by Medalla, and these included, besides artists and students, 'architects, engineers, writers, scientists, technologists, designers, industrialists, doctors, nurses and teachers'.

In fact Signals encapsulated the character of the London-based avant garde for the period. Like the ICA...which had a far longer life than Signals, and venues of the early 1960s such as Victor Musgrave's Gallery One and Denis Bowen's and Kenneth Coutts-Smith's New Vision Centre, the character of Signals was cosmopolitan, experimental and interdisciplinary. These qualities have never been recognised by British art history. In fact the entire mainstream historical writing and exhibition-making has been concerned with constructing a national image of British art wedded to a traditionalist, beaux-arts view of practice, ignoring or excluding the work of those foreigners which cannot be assimilated within the national canon. By the cruel logic of chauvinism, official aspirations to make London an international art centre have only resulted in obliterating London's cosmopolitan reality and the actual ferment of its cultural life "

Guy Brett, extract from "Exploding Galaxies. the Art of David Medalla" (1995)




Mailing Signals Newsbulleting, from left: SErgio Camargo, Guy Brett, Paul Keeler, Christopher Walker, David Medalla, Gustav Metzger


Mailing Signals Newsbulleting, from left: Sergio Camargo, Guy Brett, Paul Keeler, Christopher Walker, David Medalla, Gustav Metzger