Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Kasmin Limited records
Date (inclusive): 1960-1992 (bulk 1963-1972)
64.21 Linear Feet
(143 Boxes, 3 Flat File Folders)
The Getty Research Institute
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles 90049-1688
The records of Kasmin Limited document
the Kasmin Gallery at 118 New Bond Street in London that John Kasmin directed from 1963 to
1972 in partnership with Sheridan Dufferin. Among the artists represented by the gallery,
and in the records, are Anthony Caro, Helen Frankenthaler, David Hockney, John Latham,
Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Larry Poons, Richard Smith and Frank Stella.
The records consist of correspondence, financial records, scrapbooks, visitor books,
catalogs, invitations, ephemera, and photographs of the artworks handled by John
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Language: Collection material is in English
John Kasmin opened a gallery at 118 New Bond Street in London on April 17th, 1963, with an
inaugural show dedicated to the paintings of Kenneth Noland, an artist that he described at
the time as his favorite painter, albeit a difficult one. The show marked Kasmin's eagerness
to change London's taste in art and to promote abstract art.
Born into a Jewish family in Whitechapel in 1934 under the name John Kaye, John Kasmin, who
would later be known as Kasmin or "Kas," attended Magdalen College School in Oxford. He then
traveled to New Zealand. Upon returning to England in 1956, he took on jobs at several art
galleries, including Gallery One and Kaplan Gallery. In 1958, he met Jane Nicholson, niece
of the painter Ben Nicholson, who would become his wife and the mother of his two sons,
Aaron and Paul. In 1960, he accepted a position to manage the New London Gallery for the
well-established Marlborough Fine Art. It had been founded by Harry Fischer and Frank Lloyd
who had innovative financial arrangements with artists and who placed emphasis on the need
for proper documentation for artworks entering the stock of the gallery, such as reference
numbers, labels on verso of the works, and photographic documentation. This placed
Marlborough Fine Art at an advantage in respect to other galleries dealing with contemporary
artists that had a more informal workflow. At the Kasmin Gallery, Kasmin would pursue these
practices and benefit from the significant financial backing of the Marquis of Dufferin and
Ava, a Guinness heir and an art collector who was a client of Marlborough Fine Art.
The partnership between Kasmin and Dufferin began in the fall of 1961, when Dufferin
offered Kasmin a regular income to pursue his interest in representing artists that
Marlborough Fine Art was not willing to represent, such as David Hockney and John Latham.
Kasmin and Dufferin spent nearly two years looking for suitable premises and eventually
chose the architectural firm of Ahrends, Burton and Koralek to transform the space of an old
art gallery on New Bond Street. Stylish, crisp and bold, the Kasmin Gallery at New Bond
Street was designed and built especially to show stark, clean and large artworks. This was
meant as a departure from the exhibition space at Marlborough Fine Art with its velvet
draperies, armchairs and easels. Accessible through a long corridor, the Kasmin Gallery
space remained quiet, removed from the bustling activities on New Bond Street. Large
skylights provided a diffused light on white walls in a space that could accommodate the
large abstract paintings of six square feet or more. Represented were the British painters,
Bernard Cohen, David Hockney, John Latham, Richard Smith, and sculptor Anthony Caro, and
American painters, Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, and
Frank Stella. It is at the Kasmin Gallery in 1963 that David Hockney-the only figurative
artist among those supported by Kasmin-had his first one-man show. Kasmin would remain
Hockney's primary dealer for many years. The gallery became a proponent of American Color
Field abstract painters. It dealt in post-1908 pictures in general and in some antiquities
and Indian miniatures, but the exhibition space was solely for contemporary art.
During the 1960s, the Kasmin Gallery on New Bond Street became a notable site for
contemporary art, along with other exhibition spaces, such as the ICA and the Robert Fraser
Gallery. Described as the "most beautiful room in London," the Kasmin Gallery succeeded in
shaping a taste for contemporary art, with its narrow focus on a small group of artists-an
essential component of John Kasmin's ambition as the long list of letters of rejected
artists suggests-and its succession of striking exhibitions, which were primarily one-man
In 1972, John Kasmin and Dufferin parted ways, marking the closing of the gallery space on
New Bond Street with a festive celebration at the Savoy. Dufferin pursued other interests,
while Kasmin continued on as an art dealer, transferring the business to a non-exhibiting
premise on Clifford Street.
References: Tickner, Lisa, "The Kasmin Gallery,"
30, 2, 2007, 233-268; Letter by John Kasmin, 1963 August 16, Box 5,
Kasmin's Sixties, Paul Kasmin Gallery, 2001.
Open for use by qualified researchers.
Kasmin Limited records, 1960-1992 (bulk 1963-1972), The Getty Research Institute, Accession
Acquired in 2001.
Opened for research with a preliminary online inventory by Kelly Nipper, 2002; in 2018,
Karen Meyer-Roux completed the cataloging, and processing, and wrote the descriptive
Scope and Content of Collection
The records of Kasmin Limited provide a comprehensive survey of the operations of the
Kasmin Gallery at 118 New Bond Street in London that John Kasmin directed from 1963 to 1972
in partnership with Sheridan Dufferin. There is also documentation on John Kasmin's
activities as an art dealer in the early 1960s and after 1972.
The records of Kasmin Limited are comprised of correspondence with artists, other
galleries, collectors and critics; financial records, including stock books and contracts
with artists; scrapbooks of press clippings; visitor books; catalogues, invitations and
ephemera; photographs of exhibitions and artists' works, with a large section documenting
the work of David Hockney, and a short unreleased documentary film on the gallery. Among the
artists represented are: Edward Avedisian, Walter Darby Bannard, Stephen Buckley, Anthony
Caro, Bernard Cohen, Robin Denny, David Evison, Helen Frankenthaler, David Hockney, John
Latham, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Larry Poons, Richard Smith, Frank
Stella, annd William Tucker.
Arranged in nine series:
Series I. Correspondence, 1960-1987 (bulk
Series II. Visitor books, 1963-1966;
Series III. Diaries and travel notebook, 1962-1977;
Series IV. Scrapbooks,
V. Gallery invitations and mailing lists, 1963-1977;
Series VI. Financial
Series VII. Printed matter, 1960-1978;
Series VIII. Photographs,
Series IX. Architectural documentation, 1963-1973.
Subjects - Names
Subjects - Corporate Bodies
Subjects - Topics
Art dealers -- England -- London
Art -- Collectors and collecting
Art galleries, Commercial -- England -- London
Art, Modern -- 20th century
Art, Modern -- Collectors and collecting
Genres and Forms of Material