Maureen Paley (born 1953) is the American owner of a contemporary art gallery in Bethnal Green, London, where she lives. It was founded in 1984, called Interim Art during the 1990s, and renamed Maureen Paley in 2004. She exhibited Young British Artists at an early stage. Artists represented include Turner Prize winners, Gillian Wearing and Wolfgang Tillmans.
Maureen Paley was born in New York, the daughter of Alfred Paley and Sylvia Paley; she attended Sarah Lawrence College, and graduated from Brown University. Her artwork appears on the cover of the Summer 1973 edition of Sarah Lawrence Magazine.
She received Russian training as a ballet dancer. She emigrated to England in 1977, attending The Royal College of Art, where she gained an MA in photography. In 1978, she met and became one of the first London friends of Helen Chadwick, who, like Paley, lived in Beck Road, Bethnal Green. Paley and other friends took part in Chadwick's first London show, a feminist performance titled In the Kitchen, by strapping themselves in a canvas model of a cooker. Chadwick guided Paley in the conversion of her home into a space for art exhibitions. Paley said, "Helen was always talking about craftsmanship—a constant fount of information".
In 1984, Paley began a gallery programme in her Victorian terraced house. During the late 1980s, she exhibited examples of contemporary art by Tim Rollins and K.O.S., Sarah Charlesworth, Charles Ray, Mike Kelley, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Rosemarie Trockel and Günther Förg. The first artists that Paley exhibited as "represented" artists were Langlands and Bell, Hannah Collins, Angela Bulloch and Helen Chadwick.
In the early 1990s, the gallery presented several exhibitions made by the burgeoning group of artists that were to become known as the YBAs—including, Henry Bond, Angela Bulloch and Liam Gillick. For years she developed the careers of Gillian Wearing and Wolfgang Tillmans. During the 1990s, Paley represented artist and designer Toby Mott. At this time, she was an associate of Joshua Compston.
In 2000, Matthew Collings said, "everybody knows who the good YBAs are: the ones Maureen and the unrealist colleagues have signed up!" She was called by Time Out "a true pioneer of the East End", having presented work there before it was fashionable. She said of London, "There is tremendous talent here, indeed much more talent than there is a market," and that "the problem lies with the limited interest of the audience. Change and newness has always been very dubious in Britain." The gallery ran at a loss for almost a decade, and was supported by Arts Council grants and other patronage. Paley herself served for many years on advisory committees to the Arts Council and the London Arts Board, and received travel grants from the Arts Council during her tenure.
In 1994, she was one of 35 art world signatories to a letter in the Evening Standard demanding that its art critic, Brian Sewell should be sacked for his "artistic prejudice". A letter in response from 20 other art world signatories accused the writers of attempted censorship to promote "a relentless programme of neo-conceptual art in all the main London venues".
On the morning of 15 March 1996, Chadwick visited to collect a fax, while Paley was busy on the phone. Chadwick died later that day of a heart attack, during a visit to the Architects' Association.
In September 1999, the gallery moved to Herald Street in Bethnal Green, occupying "a chic new industrial space." Paley's base in the area was a precedent for leading galleries such as White Cube and Victoria Miro to also locate in the East End."
In 1994, Paley curated a show at Camden Arts Centre of work by Joseph Kosuth, Ad Reinhardt and Félix González-Torres. In 1995, she presented Wall to Wall featuring wall drawings by artists including Daniel Buren, Michael Craig-Martin, Douglas Gordon, Barbara Kruger, Sol LeWitt, and Lawrence Weiner. The National Touring Exhibitions show went to the Serpentine Gallery, London, Southampton City Art Gallery, and Leeds City Art Gallery. In 1996, for the Henry Moore Sculpture Trust, Paley curated The Cauldron, an exhibition of work by Young British Artists—Christine Borland, Angela Bulloch, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Steven Pippin, Georgina Starr and Gillian Wearing. It was installed in the Trust's studio space in Dean Clough, Halifax.
She said in 2001, "Being a tastemaker—someone who invents the future—requires a delicate balance. You need to be of your time—if you're too far ahead you'll be misunderstood."
In 2004, the gallery's name was changed from Interim Art to Maureen Paley. In 2006, when asked why many women have been successful in contemporary art dealing, Paley said,
"Art is one of the last unregulated markets. There are no male gatekeepers and you are not confined to traditional alpha-male values. That makes it very attractive to a certain type of woman with a strong personality, who wouldn't fit into a cookie-cutter working environment, like investment banking."
In 2007, the artist Gillian Wearing was elected to a lifetime membership of the Royal Academy of Art in London (an institution founded by royal warrant by King George III, in 1768), that is, she became a "Royal Academician."
In 2008, Paley sold a photograph by artist Anne Hardy to the British Government Art Collection for £5,875. She was one of the judges of New Sensations, a competition for art students promoted by Channel 4 and the Saatchi Gallery. Jo Craven said in The Daily Telegraph that Paley was one of only five female gallery owners of note in London. The Evening Standard included her in London's 50 most influential people in art and design in 2008 and 2009.
In 2009, she was placed at 87 (from 70 the previous year) in ArtReview's art world Power 100 list. The citation drew attention to the presence of gallery artists at major events, such as Michael Landy at Tate Liverpool, Rebecca Warren at the Serpentine Gallery and Wolfgang Tillmans at the Venice Biennale. Her own gallery programme had an unpredictable agenda, ranging from abstract paintings by David Ratcliff, a new Los Angeles artist, to a long film by Lars Laumann about a prisoner on death-row. With a grant of £25,862 from The Art Fund and as a partial gift from the artist and Paley, the Arts Council purchased nine framed photographic prints by Tillmans for a total of £51,724.
In August 2009, reflecting on the legacy of the YBA art scene, Paley said, "The thing that came out of the YBA generation was boldness, a belief that you can do anything."
In 2010, Paley was one of a group of art dealers including Sadie Coles who made up the selection committee for the Frieze Art Fair. She supports the exhibition programme of the Serpentine Gallery, and is a benefactor of the South London Gallery.
Some of the artists represented by Maureen Paley as of August 2010:
- Sleeman, Elizabeth (ed.) The International Who's Who of Women (London and New York: Routledge, 2002), p. 431. Entry on Paley available as snippet view here
- Renton, Andrew. "Museum wannabes", Evening Standard: London, p47, 23 April 2002. "In her Hackney living room, Maureen Paley showed the Young British Artists when they were even Younger"
- SLC site Retrieved, 11 September 2010
- "87. Maureen Paley", ArtReview, 2009. Retrieved 13 August 2010.
- Camblin, Victoria. "Maureen Paley: London Borough of Tower Hamlets," 032c magazine, Summer 2009
- Beckett, Andy. "What a swell party it was", The Independent on Sunday, 2 June 1996. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
- Ward, Ossian. "The Rise of the East End art scene", Time Out, 1 May 2007. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
- Deepwell, Katy. New Feminist Art Criticism (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995), p. 97.
- Paley, Maureen (ed.) On: Henry Bond, Angela Bulloch, Liam Gillick, Graham Gussin, Markus Hansen (London and Plymouth: Interim Art/Plymouth Arts Centre, 1992), no ISBN but details online here
- "The gallery owner", Evening Standard, 17 December 2001. Retrieved 12 August 2010.
- Gott, Richard. "Where the art is", The Guardian, p.36, 7 October 1995. Retrieved from NewsUK, 13 August 2010.
- Collings, Matthew, "A day in the life of British art", The Guardian, 19 March 2000. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
- Maureen Paley, 21 Herald St, London, E2 6JT, Time Out, London
- Maureen Paley, File magazine, 15 October 2009
- Sewell, Brian. East is so hackneyed, Evening Standard, 21 September 2002. Retrieved 12 August 2010.
- Lister, David. "Millions of pounds of public money are spent on the arts every year", The Independent, 18 February 1995. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
- Sweeney, John. Final say: "‘Demagogue' reviewer bites back at art scene’s gang of 35: It’s 'nul points' for the candid critic’s critics", The Guardian, 9 January 1994. Retrieved from NewsUK (pay site), 11 August 2010.
- Tresidder, Megan. "The Megan Tresidder Interview", The Guardian, 19 November 1994. Retrieved from News UK (pay site), 11 August 2010.
- Lynton, Norbert. "Playing up to the gallery: Abuse is easy, even enjoyable", The Guardian, 29 January 1994. Retrieved from News UK, 11 August 2010.
- "Gallery", Maureen Paley. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
- Barnett, Laura. "Portrait of the artist: Rebecca Warren, sculptor, The Guardian, 7 April 2009.
- Rawsthorn, Alice. "Space Women", The Guardian, 12 October 2006.
- Acquisitions 2008-9 on Government website (DCMS)
- "Artnet news", Artnet, 17 July 2008. Retrieved 12 August 2010.
- Craven, Jo. "Pilar Corias", The Daily Telegraph, 12 October 2008. Retrieved 12 August 2010.
- Art & Design, part of "Influentials: The 1000", Evening Standard, 8 October 2008. Retrieved 12 August 2010
- The One Thousand - Art & Design, Evening Standard, 30 November 2009. Retrieved 12 August 2010.
- "Collection of nine prints", The Art Fund. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
- Douglas, Caroline. "Dan, 2008", The Arts Council. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
- Hannah Duguid, "Women at work: As the older generation of YBAs grows up, a new set of female creators is taking over" The Independent, 28 August 2009.
- Society of London Art Dealers website, 18 August 2010.
- "About", Frieze Art Fair. Retrieved 14 August 2010. Archived on Webcitation.
- "How to support us", Serpentine Gallery. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
- "Thanks", South London Gallery. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
- Whitechapel Art Gallery Patrons. Retrieved 17 August 2010.
- Chisenhale Patrons. Retrieved 17 August 2010.
- Camden Arts Centre Patrons. Retrieved 17 August 2010.
- As retrieved from the gallery's website on 11 August 2010.