Discover London's Oldest Art District With Mayfair Art Weekend

The Summer Circus
The Summer Circus | © Justine Trickett / Courtesy of Royal Academy of Arts
Photo of Freire Barnes
Art & Design Editor19 June 2018

Mayfair Art Weekend (MAW) returns to London’s oldest art district with its biggest free three-day arts programme to date, making it the ideal cultural destination for Londoners and visitors alike between 29 June and 1 July 2018.

Mayfair isn’t just about the taking tea at The Ritz, buying holiday gifts at Fortnum & Mason and drinking martinis at Dukes Bar. It is the original art hub of the capital, boasting the highest population of galleries in London.

For the past five years, the free annual festival Mayfair Art Weekend has been drawing people to the area to discover the plethora of art from old masters to emerging contemporary art on show in art galleries and auction houses that can still surprise even the most ardent of art lovers.

“Mayfair Art Weekend’s programme is a concentrated version of what the Mayfair and St. James’s galleries, fashion and auction houses offer all year round,” says Victoria Luxem, head of MAW. “As well as a way to highlight the great vibrancy and wealth of knowledge that this area offers.”

Bob and Roberta Smith parade | © Benedict Johnson

This year marks a number of important milestones for the area’s art community. The Royal Academy of Arts (RA) celebrates its 250th anniversary. The Redfern Gallery, one of the longest-established dealers in Modern British, has been on Cork Street for 95 years. And Russian Constructivism, Bauhaus and De Stijl specialists, Annely Juda Fine Art was founded 50 years ago.

With this in mind, this year’s MAW promises to be its most spectacular yet as it hosts a variety of festivities from special previews, exhibition talks, gallery tours and family-friendly workshops to virtual reality experiences, a site-specific installation in Burlington Arcade by Mathilde Nivet and an artist lunch hosted by Royal Academician Bob and Roberta Smith.

Mathilde Nivet's installation of paper birds in Burlington Arcade for Mayfair Art Weekend 2017 | © David Parry

Partnering for a second year, the RA will once again turn their Annenberg Courtyard into the home of MAW’s programme of free events. “As part of our 250th anniversary celebrations, the Royal Academy has just opened its new campus, connecting us to the heart of Mayfair,” said Tim Marlow, artistic director of the Royal Academy of Arts. “We are delighted to be partnering with the Mayfair Art Weekend again at such an exciting time for the RA and we look forward to celebrating the weekend with a range of free, dynamic and hopefully inspiring events in one of the world’s most vibrant cultural districts.”

Let Culture Trip guide you through what not to miss during the jam-packed art weekend.

Mayfair Art Weekend 2017 | © David Parry

Enjoy the Gallery HOP!

Whether you know Mayfair or not, the MAW Gallery HOP! is the perfect way to discover the abundance of art spaces in the area. Thirty-five galleries are taking part this year with each hosting special events and viewings. To help your gallery hopping you can take one of the self-guided tours, including The Completely Abstract Tour and The Pioneering Legends Tour. We recommend making a beeline to post-war and contemporary art specialists Lévy Gorvy, who have invited London-based DJ Cedric Bardawil to create a musical interpretation of works by Yves Klein and James Turrell currently on view in the gallery’s exhibition Focus.

Gallery HOP! takes place at various locations. Find more details here.

Lévy Gorvy, 22 Old Bond Street, London W1S 4P. Friday, 29 June 6pm-8.30pm.

Yves Klein, 'Pigment pur bleu', 1957/2018 at Lévy Gorvy, London, 2018 | © Yves Klein Estate, ADAGP, Paris / DACS, London, 2018 / Photo: Stephen White

Get immersed in a VR installation

In collaboration with Abby and Alice, emerging artist Jocelyn Anquetil will present her VR installation Mundania in Burlington Gardens during the Long Artists’ Lunch. Exploring the pressures of 21st-century living for a young person, Anquetil’s installation will take you on a existential journey through the dreamed-up ideal world of a 24-year-old woman.

Mundania is at Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington Gardens, London W1S 3ET. Sunday, 1 July 11am-5pm. No booking required.

Detail of Jocelyn Anquetil's 'Mundania' VR experience | © Jocelyn Anquetil

The RA’s collection gets dissected

The study of anatomy was a key aspect to the training of artists when the Royal Academy opened in 1769. Taking the theme of dissection as a starting point, a group of University of the Arts London student curators will present a festival takeover in the RA’s newly renovated Burlington Gardens. There will be musical performances, drop-in colour mixing workshops, fishbowl conversations and art interventions, including Gus Skottowe’s site-specific installation made from dissected technology (Saturday noon-6pm).

Dissections is at Burlington Gardens. Saturday, 30 June and Sunday, 1 July 12-6pm. No booking required.

'Loop or Line' | © Gus Skottowe

Discover the monumental projects of Christo and Jeanne-Claude

You’ll no doubt have heard Christo’s name banded around recently. He’s the artist behind the giant sculpture The London Mastaba, which is made out of colourful oil barrels and sits on the Serpentine lake in Hyde Park. To coincide with the project and the artist’s retrospective at the Serpentine Gallery, Stern Pissarro Gallery on St James’s Street are presenting a range of works by Christo and his late wife and collaborator Jeanne-Claude (1935-2009). For decades, the duo created ambitious monumental temporary public outdoor works and this exhibition of rare original works gives context to some of the duo’s most famous projects.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: A Life of Projects is at Stern Pissarro Gallery, 66 St James’s Street, London SW1A 1NE.

Gallery HOP! Friday, 29 June 6pm-8pm; Saturday, 30 June and Sunday, 1 July 10am-4pm.

Christo, 'Surrounded Islands (Project for Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida)', 1983 | © Christo / Courtesy of Stern Pissarro Gallery

Feast at the Long Artists’ Lunch

On the temporarily pedestrianised Burlington Gardens, artist and Royal Academician Bob and Roberta Smith will host an afternoon of artist-led discussions and performances over food. “Art is manifestly convivial. There is a reason artists like a lunch, it’s a chance to meet people, have fun, but importantly it’s a chance to talk about ideas publicly,” says the artist. So take a seat on one of the lobster chairs at Charlotte and Philip Colbert’s surrealist-designed 15-metre-long dining table and join in the enthusiastic arty conversation.

Long Artists’ Lunch is at Burlington Gardens. Sunday, 1 July 12pm-5pm.

Render of Long Artists' Lunch table (detail) | © Charlotte and Philip Colbert

Mayfair Art Weekend is on from Friday June 29 to Sunday July 1, 2018 at various venues throughout Mayfair and St James’s.

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