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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical/Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Related Material
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Kasmin Limited records
    Date (inclusive): 1960-1992 (bulk 1963-1972)
    Number: 2001.M.1
    Creator/Collector: Kasmin Limited
    Physical Description: 64.21 Linear Feet (143 Boxes, 3 Flat File Folders)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles 90049-1688
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10020/askref
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: 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 Kasmin.
    Request Materials: Request access to the physical materials described in this inventory through the catalog record   for this collection. Click here for the access policy .
    Language: Collection material is in English

    Biographical/Historical Note

    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 shows.
    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," Oxford Art Journal, 30, 2, 2007, 233-268; Letter by John Kasmin, 1963 August 16, Box 5, folder 1; Kasmin's Sixties, Paul Kasmin Gallery, 2001.

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Kasmin Limited records, 1960-1992 (bulk 1963-1972), The Getty Research Institute, Accession no. 2001.M.1.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired in 2001.

    Processing History

    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 notes.

    Related Material

    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.

    Arrangement note

    Arranged in nine series: Series I. Correspondence, 1960-1987 (bulk 1963-1972); Series II. Visitor books, 1963-1966; Series III. Diaries and travel notebook, 1962-1977; Series IV. Scrapbooks, 1961-1984; Series V. Gallery invitations and mailing lists, 1963-1977; Series VI. Financial records, 1960-1992; Series VII. Printed matter, 1960-1978; Series VIII. Photographs, 1960-1981; Series IX. Architectural documentation, 1963-1973.

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Names

    Caro, Anthony
    Stella, Frank
    Smith, Richard
    Olitski, Jules
    Poons, Larry
    Louis, Morris
    Noland, Kenneth
    Kasmin, John
    Latham, John
    Frankenthaler, Helen
    Hockney, David

    Subjects - Corporate Bodies

    Kasmin Limited

    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

    Stock books
    Photographic prints


    Kasmin Limited