Karsten Schubert, gallerist who championed the YBAs, 1961–2019

Karsten Schubert. Courtesy Karsten Schubert Gallery, London

The London gallerist Karsten Schubert has died at the age of 58. Schubert, who was born in Germany, opened his first gallery in London’s Charlotte Street in April 1987, with a solo exhibition of Alison Wilding. Schubert quickly became a key figure in the emergence of a new generation of British artists in the late 1980s and early 90s, especially the centre of activity at Goldsmiths College, which led him to show artists including Liam Gillick, Gary Hume, Rachel Whiteread, Anja Gallacio and Michael Landy (who staged his Closing Down Sale at the gallery in 1992.) While the gallery became known as a champion of the YBAs, Schubert was instrumental in opening new channels toward both European and American artists too, showing artists such as Gerhard Richter, Gunther Forg, Georg Herold, Dan Flavin and Ed Ruscha. Navigating the uncertain, recession-hit art market proved to be difficult however, and Schubert’s gallery finally closed in 1996, after which he concentrated on private dealing, investing particularly in the print work of Bridget Riley. With the turbo-charged return of the art market in the 2000s, Schubert returned to the job of gallerist, opening his second London space in Lower John Street in 2007, representing artists Rose English, Ann-Marie James, Tess Jaray and Alison Wilding. 

In 1995 Schubert established the publishers Ridinghouse, with fellow gallerist Thomas Dane and collector, Charles Asprey. As well as artist monographs the house also specialised in collected writings by critics, including Dave Hickey, Michael Bracewell, Brian Dillon, Briony Fer, Dawn Adès and Penelope Curtis. Schubert turned himself author too; in 2000 he published The Curator’s Egg, a potted history of the art museum, followed by Dear Images, on art and copyright culture (with Daniel McLean); and in 2015 Ridinghouse published Room 225-6, a semi-ficitonalised chronicle of Schubert’s recovery from thyroid cancer in a suite in Claridge’s Hotel.

31 July 2019