Annely Juda

Influential gallerist and art dealer
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The Independent Online

Anneliese Brauer, gallerist and art dealer: born Kassel, Germany 23 September 1914; Director, Molton Gallery 1960-63; Director, Hamilton Gallery 1963-67; Director, Annely Juda Fine Art 1967-2006; CBE 1998; married 1939 Paul Juda (deceased; one son, two daughters; marriage dissolved 1955); died London 13 August 2006.

First at the Molton Gallery, then the Hamilton Gallery, and from 1967 at Annely Juda Fine Art, Annely Juda's exhibitions changed our understanding of 20th-century art and its driving priorities.

Until the 1950s, Gertrude Stein's statement that in the 19th century, modern art was made in Paris by Frenchmen and in the 20th in Paris by Spaniards did not seem far off the mark. New York's challenge, in the late 1950s, made the art world seem bipolar. In the 1960s Britain responded by asserting herself as a third contender with solid achievements to throw into the ring. But it was still a narrow world.

Harry Fischer at Marlborough Fine Art had introduced Britain to the major Expressionists of the Brücke and the Blaue Reiter sorts, and also to Oskar Kokoschka, the Viennese Expressionist. Annely Juda made it her business to open our eyes and minds to a complementary range of Modernism, mostly Russian, or the geometrical abstract art of Holland and Central Europe, and in her quiet but insistent way succeeded in refocusing our attention. She also displayed and supported contemporary British and foreign artists, some of whom were, or soon became, major figures of the art world.

She was born Anneliese Brauer in 1914 into a solid Jewish middle-class family in Kassel, Germany. Her father was a laboratory chemist, her mother a trained fashion designer whose ambition it was to be a painter. Brought up in the spirit and practices of liberal Judaism, Annely and her younger sister joined their parents in enjoying museums, music and the theatre, books and newspapers. Annely enjoyed sports (she was still ski-ing in her late eighties) and went to art lessons outside her school.

Anti-Semitism reared its head suddenly, in 1932-33: Annely was not allowed to go to university; her father's laboratory was taken over, his library was confiscated. He fled to Palestine, where he established a chemical factory. Annely, her mother and sister followed him, but Annely found life in Palestine too limited and confrontational.

In 1937 she moved to London where she met Paul Juda, who became her husband in 1939. With his help, her parents came to London shortly before the war. Paul and Annely had three children, two daughters, Carol and Susan, and, in between them, David, born in 1946, a "Victory baby", she said. The Judas went back to Germany shortly after the war where Paul wanted to work in his family's property business. In the event, Annely did not feel at home in Germany and, for other reasons too, left her husband, returning to London with her three children in 1956.

Here she worked for the collector and gallery owner Eric Estorick. He was to sack her, but this experience of the art world persuaded her that she should spend her life contributing to it, first at the Molton Gallery, in South Molton Street, which she founded in 1960, and then in the Hamilton Gallery opened in St George Street in 1963. Already she was showing important avant-garde British artists in those galleries, among them key figures associated with the Situation exhibitions of 1960 and 1961, including William Turnbull, Robyn Denny, Bernard Cohen and Gillian Ayres. Soon she enrolled also foreign artists working in London, such as Avinash Chandra and, from Australia, Klaus Friedeberger.

Annely Juda Fine Art opened in 1967 in Tottenham Mews, off Charlotte Street, occupying two floors of an un-smart but curiously apt industrial building. Her displays were marked by quantity, backed by informative catalogues. She had worked for Estorick in Berlin and had formed contacts in the modern art world of Central Europe.

Her first exhibitions in the new gallery ranged widely over European and British art, but in 1970 she declared her hand with the first of a series of "The Non-Objective World" shows. The title was that of the 1927 Bauhaus book presenting Kasimir Malevich's work and ideas; her project was to promote non-Parisian Modernism and diminish British fears of abstraction. Those shows were dominated by geometrical abstract painting of the De Stijl movement (Mondrian, van Doesburg and their allies), abstract art in two and in three dimensions of Russian Modernism (Malevich, Tatlin, Popova, Gabo, Lissitzky etc.), but had room also for more contemporary practioners such as Max Bill and Kenneth and Mary Martin.

In 1986 she presented an amazing exhibition subtitled "The Janus Face of the Twenties". This brought together movements normally seen as contradictory, Dada and Constructivism, and proved their close kinship. Tatlin originals being rare anywhere, she encouraged the young Martyn Chalk to make highly professional replicas of his famous but mostly lost sculptures of 1914 and after.

All this made Annely Juda Fine Art a powerful addition to the London art scene. For a few years in the early 1980s she joined forces with Alex Gregory-Hood of the Rowan Gallery, forming the Juda Rowan Gallery and adding his array of young British painters and sculptors, among them Phillip King and William Tucker, the sculptors, and Paul Huxley and Bridget Riley among the painters.

American artists were seen there too, notably Al Held. Christo, the great wrapper of natural sites and pompous buildings, showed with her repeatedly. Two of Britain's most brilliant sculptors joined the Juda stable, David Nash in 1986 and Anthony Caro in 1989. More recently, she widened her gallery's range by adding David Hockney, her one essentially figurative artist. Her interest in modern Japanese art has been strengthened by her son David Juda's developing connections with it, which included his marriage to the painter Yuko Shiraishi.

As a critic, and then also as a relatively mute art consumer, I always enjoyed meeting Annely Juda in her successive galleries and sometimes at art events elsewhere. She combined firmness of purpose and wide knowledge with gentle ways. She had views on art and artists without imposing them on anyone; in return she enjoyed honest responses to her enquiries. She never flattered, but offered a warm greeting and respect. Artists who have worked with her emphasise her clarity and decisiveness, as well as her kindness.

Moving the gallery (in 1990) to newly developed premises, high up in Dering Street, gave it a more obviously top-of-the-market character, with its contrasting spaces and that great glass roof which opens to admit large sculptures with the help of a crane. David Juda has been Annely's lieutenant and partner in recent years, and inconspicuously took charge of the business when his mother's health forced her to retire from it. He has evidently inherited many of her qualities; the gallery is in very good hands.

Norbert Lynton