John Kasmin

Kasmin with his hat.
Kasmin with his hat. Courtesy Collection Kasmin. Image not licensed for reuse.

Biography

John Kasmin

John Kasmin is a British art dealer and gallerist. His formal career began at Victor Musgrave’s Gallery One in D’Arblay Street, London. Listen to Kasmin relate the unusual circumstances that led to his job with Musgrave on Voices of art. After learning the ropes at Gallery One and the Kaplan Gallery, Kasmin ran Marlborough’s The New London Gallery for its directors Frank Lloyd, Harry Fischer and David Somerset. In 1961 he founded Kasmin Limited with Sheridan Dufferin, 5th Marquess of Dufferin and Ava. Dufferin was heir to a Guinness fortune and his financial backing enabled Kasmin to have what he called the gallery ‘of one’s dreams’. He wanted to create a space able to exhibit large abstract works that could be lit to the best advantage, something not otherwise available in London at that time. Architects Richard Burton and Peter Ahrends of Ahrends, Burton and Koralek, (ABK) created what became known as ‘the most beautiful room in London’. Hear Richard Burton describing the Kasmin Gallery dynamics on Voices of art.

The Kasmin Gallery opened in 1963 with an exhibition of the American artist Kenneth Noland, and the gallery became known as a place to see new work by the group that became known as colour field painters. In the same year Kasmin also showed paintings by the young David Hockney, who he had discovered at the Young Contemporaries exhibition in 1961. Others who had important shows at the Kasmin Gallery include Gillian Ayres, Anthony Caro, Robyn Denny, Helen Frankenthaler, Howard Hodgkin, John Latham, Morris Louis, Jules Olitski, Richard Smith and Frank Stella. The Kasmin Gallery itself closed in 1972 and Kasmin went on to run other spaces. Kasmin Ltd continues to the present day.

Biography and education

John Kasmin was born John Kaye on 24 September 1934 in Whitechapel, London. He attended Magdalen College School in Oxford before moving to New Zealand aged 17. While abroad he dropped the name John and has since become widely known just as Kasmin or Kas. In 1956 he returned to Britain and began his career, becoming one of the most celebrated art dealers in Britain.

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