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Olga Korper Gallery

Posted by Derek Flack / Posted on July 26, 2009

Olga Korper GalleryOlga Korper Gallery has a lengthy and fascinating history. Started in the basement of Korper's former apartment on Markham Street, after a few years the then makeshift gallery moved to the 4th floor of 80 Spadina, which it shared with Wynick/Tuck Gallery. Though there wasn't much wrong with this space per se, a client of Korper tipped her off about former foundry and Mattress factory on Morrow St. off Dundas West in Roncesvalles Village. The rest, as they say, is history: this location of the gallery is on the cusp of its twentieth birthday.

Olga Korper GalleryThe first to take up shop at the complex on Morrow Avenue, Korper can be thanked for its current existence as a mini-hub of creative and artistic activity, including Peak and Christopher Cutts Galleries. It wasn't easy, however. Having been abandoned after its last industrial incarnation, it took about a year and a half to renovate the gallery and the area around it.

But, as is often the case with conversions of industrial space to gallery space - think of Chelsea in New York - the result is ideal for the display of art. The huge exhibition area can accommodate almost any manner and size of installation, and the high roof/ceiling gives the room a decidedly open feel. In other words, this is not your narrow and claustrophobic start-up gallery. It's as polished as independent galleries come.

Olga Korper GallerySpecializing in contemporary art in all major media, Korper has built an established roster over the years, which includes such heavyweights as Bernd and Hilla Becher, Patterson Ewen and Wil Alsop (and more!). It's pretty remarkable the collection of talent here, and it makes the gallery a good one always to keep an eye on: every show seems to be exciting and challenging.

John Brown PaintingDespite the obvious success she's found as a dealer, Korper remains humble and self-deprecating. As we spoke about the Toronto art community, she continually expressed her enthusiasm and support for young curators and gallery owners who are doing much to enrich a scene that not so long ago was considerably less vibrant. Owning a gallery is a tough way to make a living, particularly in the first years, and when asked what some of her keys to success have been, the main thing Korper cited was luck.

Now I know this isn't the only reason she's built up such a thriving art business, but I'm sure happy that she's had some, because this is one of those pillars that brings great art to the city.

Olga Korper Gallery Exterior



Derek / July 26, 2009 at 10:37 pm
A few years, I also went to the Olga Korper Gallery, and also as an online contributor to a website (a prominent Toronto-related website that it is not necessary to name). My reception at the main desk was frosty--to say the least--from both the receptionist and the gallery director. The gallery was cold and cavernous. The two ladies dimissive and (dare I say it) pretentious. Then the director rushed over to fawn over some baby boomer couple dressed from head to toe in black.

Really, it was quite unfortunate. I like the Korper Gallery and was pleased to read that Ms. Korper herself is welcoming and gracious. Perhaps in the last few years, proprietors of all stripes are realizing that online reviewers deserve the same respectable reception as their counterparts in the print medium.

I wound up at the Christopher Cutts Gallery instead (across the Foundry) and was charmed by the warmth of its space and staff. While it did not influence what I had to say about the collection at the time, it did get the Cutts Gallery an online review, whereas the the Korper Gallery lost out.

That would not have affected their sales, of course, since it's doubtful that my little review could have had that effect, but it certainly affected the number of public visitors to the Korper Gallery. And I think that Olga Korper would have cared about that, because there are few gallery owners who believe that the art on their walls should not be seen by the public.

Birte replying to a comment from Derek / September 5, 2009 at 12:09 pm
Funny you should say that. Hard to argue with success, however, unfortunately,I had a very similar experience, which by now is well over a decade ago --- I never did go back...

Although, I am more than certain it had everything to do with the staff and not the owner.

Still, reality is, how one is received (whether dressed to the 9's - artist, author, buyer, or ?) makes a palatable difference, in any setting and circumstance.

yusuf / October 25, 2009 at 09:53 pm
hay olga ? ?waduh olga ozh'e bagusss banget ceeh, ,pengen donk maen ke ozh'e olga. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .yusuf bocah bogor
yusuf / October 25, 2009 at 09:55 pm
oya . . .satu lagy, ,olga qok ga maen lagi ceeh di opera van java? ? yusuf bocah bogor
judy / December 1, 2009 at 09:55 am
even bad press is good press
krista / March 29, 2010 at 12:41 am
AGREED--these are old posts. But the staff at the Korper gallery were cold, unhelpful and dry.
jill / October 31, 2010 at 04:49 pm
It is hard to think about the staff at the Korper Gallery are seen as being this cold. I am in close relation with one of the curators, and seeing as i am just a highschool student, it is not the age, how you look, or if you're a buyer but the mindset you go into the gallery with.
Olga's a tough woman, very good at what she does, loves keeping her art distributing local and Canadian.

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