After graduating from UCLA with a degree in English, Larry Gagosian is said to have started his art business in 1975 on a sidewalk in Westwood, Calif., selling art posters for a few dollars each. A savvy eye and a tenacity in business led him to become one of the most successful dealers in the art world, courting names such as S.I. Newhouse and Charles Saatchi with an impressive roster of artists. He has opened Gagosian Gallery (212.744.2313, www.gagosian.com) branches in Beverly Hills, Manhattan, London, and Rome, set up an office in Hong Kong, and collaborated with museums and galleries all over the world, including the State Hermitage in St. Petersburg.
Last year proved exceptional for Gagosian’s London space, which expanded in 2004 into what was once a garage for repairing double-decker buses. “In the spring of last year, Ed Ruscha came through with these magnificent gigantic diptychs of past and future images,” says Robin Vousden, one of the directors of the London gallery. “And in the fall, Richard Serra made a grand installation sculpture for us. These are two legendary figures, and to be able to present them to our London audience was extraordinary.” Most recently, Cy Twombly’s 2008 rose paintings graced the London gallery. The show consisted of five large four-panel pieces depicting a rose on each of the first three panels, with fragments of Rilke’s poem cycle “The Roses” inscribed in the artist’s signature craggy hand on the last.