Europe’s 10 Most Respected Art Dealers

See who made our list of the top Contemporary Art dealers in Europe.

Works by Tony Cragg and Alex Katz at the stand of Thaddaeus Ropac at ARCO Madrid 2016.Photo: Lorena Muñoz-Alonso.
Works by Tony Cragg and Alex Katz at the stand of Thaddaeus Ropac at ARCO Madrid 2016.
Photo: Lorena Muñoz-Alonso.

Art dealers are the cogs in the art world machine that keep the wheels turning. These dealers sustain the market for emerging artists, support established artists throughout their careers, and contribute to the art scene through the work they choose to exhibit, buy, and promote. From taking chances on new talent to the long-term nurturing of artists’ careers, these canny operators have a hand in the art world from introducing hot new things to market, assisting collectors to build their collections, to the work we see in public museum collections all over the world.

We have compiled a list of 10 of the most influential and respected dealers in Europe (in no particular order). Each of these people has played an essential role is shaping the cultural landscape of the cities and countries they operate in, and in the spirit of the global art world, some have expanded internationally.

Kamel Mennour. Photo: JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images

Kamel Mennour. Photo: JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images

1. Kamel Mennour
Mennour started out selling art door-to-door to pay for his economics degree. The Algerian-born Frenchman opened his first gallery in Paris 16 years ago and, since then has gradually built a rock-solid program with serious blue-chip potential.

Now installed at three locations in the French capital, Galerie Kamel Mennour is responsible for launching the career of white-hot French artist Camille Henrot, and also represents established artists such as Martin Parr, Huang Yong Ping, and Anish Kapoor.

Thaddeus Ropac. Photo: © Patrick McMullan Photo - BILLY FARRELL/PatrickMcMullan.com

Thaddaeus Ropac. Photo: © Patrick McMullan

2. Thaddaeus Ropac
Austrian dealer Thaddaeus Ropac has been dealing in art for thirty years. In that time he has grown his Salzburg gallery into a multinational business with two spaces in Paris and a newly announced London location slated to open in 2017.

Aside from representing and exhibiting greats such as Georg Baselitz and Joseph Beuys, as well as, young hot-shots such as Cory Arcangel Ropac is known for his astute eye. He serves as a curatorial aide to museums, and an independent art adviser, and he runs his own publishing house to boot.

Sadie Coles of Sadie Coles. Photo: © Bryan Adams via the National Portrait Gallery

Sadie Coles of Sadie Coles HQ. Photo: © Bryan Adams via the National Portrait Gallery

3. Sadie Coles
The edgy dealer was at the forefront of the YBA movement that propelled the British art scene onto the international stage during the, now legendary, 1990s.

Coles opened her gallery in London’s West End in 1997 and has since expanded but has always remained in the traditional art hubs of  Mayfair and Soho, where she exhibits artists such as Sarah Lucas, Matthew Barney, Elizabeth Peyton, and Richard Prince.

Massimo De Carlo. Courtesy of Massimo De Carlo gallery.

Massimo De Carlo. Photo courtesy of Massimo De Carlo gallery.

4. Massimo de Carlo
The pharmacist turned gallerist with spaces in Milan, London, and Hong Kong is closely linked to the rise of art star Maurizio Cattelan. His gallery represents a carefully selected group of established and up-and-coming artists including Rashid Johnson, Dan Colen, and Paul Chan. It’s De Carlo’s preparedness to integrate both established market darlings and more unconventional artists into his program that really sets him apart in the art world.

Eivind Furnesvik. Photo: Sculpture Center via Facebook

Eivind Furnesvik. Photo Sculpture Center via Facebook

5. Eivind Furnesvik
The founder and director of Standard (Oslo) has put Norway’s small but burgeoning art scene on the map. Having raised local stalwarts such as Matias Faldbakken, Frederik Værslev to an international level, the gallerist also brought Tauba Auerbach, Alex Hubbard, and Josh Smith to Scandinavia.

Oslo’s small local market means that around 75 percent of works sold at Standard (Oslo) go abroad. Furnesvik’s  innovative approach to this has earned him the respect of colleagues and collectors and has brought first-class art to the challenging market of the far northern hemisphere, while staying true to his roots.

Elba Benitez. Photo: El ojo crítico (RNE) via Twitter (@ElojocriticoRNE).

Elba Benitez. Photo El ojo crítico (RNE) via Twitter (@ElojocriticoRNE).

6. Elba Benitez
Driven by a desire to participate in the arts, the Madrid-based dealer Elba Benitez opened her first gallery in 1990 without any prior experience, training or prior connection the art world.

After surviving the economic downturn of the early 1990s, the gallerist spent the following 26 years establishing an exciting program based around Spanish and Latin American artists, complimented by selected artists from other part of the world. Galería Elba Benítez now represents the likes of Vik Muniz, Ernesto Neto, Cristina Iglesias, Miriam Bäckström, and others.

Johann König. Photo: Johann König via Facebook.

Johann König. Photo Johann König via Facebook.

7. Johann König
As the son of esteemed museum director and curator Kasper König, Johann König’s career as a gallerist was probably inevitable. König opened his first gallery in Berlin at the tender age of 20 before finishing high school.

He has built a reputation for taking risks including a legendary show with artist Jeppe Hein which saw the artist install a motion sensor triggered iron wrecking-ball in König’s gallery space that completely destroyed the building. In 2012 he moved his gallery to a vast, disused, Brutalist church in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district. Today he represents the likes of Alicja Kwade, Michael Sailstorfer, and Jorinde Voigt.

Xavier Hufkens Photo: © Serge Leblon and Xavier Hufkens

Xavier Hufkens. Photo: © Serge Leblon and Xavier Hufkens

8. Xavier Hufkens
After opening his first gallery in a derelict warehouse in Brussels, the dealer first attracted attention by introducing internationally influential artists to Belgium. He exhibited the likes of Antony Gormley, Felix Gonzales-Torres, and Rosemarie Trockel and thus made a name for himself.

In the early 1990s he moved into the more upscale Ixelles neighborhood and since then has continued to show a diverse program of solo shows with artists they represent, various projects, and group shows.

Eva Presenhuber. Photo: artnet Magazine.

Eva Presenhuber. Photo: artnet News.

9. Eva Presenhuber
Since opening her first gallery in Zurich in 1989, Presenhuber has become a mainstay on the Swiss art scene. Representing a stable of domestic and international artists such as Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Ugo Rondinone, Franz West, and Joe Bradley, the Austrian born gallerist has earned a reputation for her museum-quality exhibitions and fair booths, which have granted her the coveted position of being selected to serve on the Art Basel selection committee.

Nuno Centeno. Photo: Nuno Centeno via Facebook.

Nuno Centeno. Photo: Nuno Centeno via Facebook.

10. Nuno Centeno
The Portuguese dealer established his gallery in Porto in 2007. Despite of the financial crisis and crippling austerity afflicting Portugal, the gallerist’s compelling exhibitions generated enough success to expand to a larger space only two years later in 2009.

From its base in Portugal the gallery built an international reputation for representing and showing exciting emerging and mid-career artists with a strong Latin American flavor. Artists such as Secundino Hernandez and Gabriel Lima are accentuated by selected international artists including Dan Rees and Max Ruf.

In 2014 the gallery evolved, expanding to Lisbon and bringing in Bruno Múrias as a partner,changing the gallery’s name from Nuno Centeno to Múrias Centeno.

 


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