The Fruitmarket Gallery aims to make contemporary art accessible, without compromising art or under-estimating audiences.
The Gallery presents world-class, thought-provoking and challenging art made by both Scottish and international artists in an environment that is welcoming, engaging, informative and always free. The Gallery aims to give audiences the confidence to enjoy contemporary art and to understand the importance of art, artists, culture and creativity and their impact on individual and collective lives.
The Gallery’s creative programme includes exhibitions, commissions, interpretation, education and publishing in both print and electronic forms. Gallery facilities include a bookshop and a café. The Gallery is physically accessible and family-friendly.
Originally built as a fruit and vegetable market in 1938, The Fruitmarket Gallery has been operating as a visual arts space since 1974. Rescued by
the Scottish Arts Council from threatened demolition, the building was initially shared between the Scottish Arts Council, the New 57 Gallery and
the Printmakers Workshop. At the end of 1983 the Scottish Arts Council relinquished management of the building, and in Spring 1984, The Fruitmarket Gallery became an independent space with the continued support of the Scottish Arts Council.
The Director in charge of this transformation was Mark Francis. He ran a programme that included memorable exhibitions by Lawrence Weiner, Nancy
Spero, Steven Campbell and the celebrated group exhibition, The Mirror and the Lamp. Mark Francis left the Gallery in September 1987. He is now a director of Gagosian Gallery, London and was formerly Chief Curator and Founding Director of the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. His successor, Fiona Macleod had worked closely with Francis and stepped into the role as Director in April 1988. She brought shows by Canadian Jack Goldstein and British Pop artist Richard Hamilton to Edinburgh.
In July 1992, Graeme Murray was appointed Director of The Fruitmarket Gallery. Later that year the Gallery closed for a major refurbishment by Richard Murphy Architects. Richard Murphy opened up the space to public view by creating a glass frontage for the lower level of the Gallery and brought natural light into the top floor. He hoped to unite the triple purposes of an art gallery, a cafe and a bookshop by making these spaces interactive – the concept of a pavement level cafe and increased visibility to the outside linking the visitor to their surroundings. Nevertheless, the structural fabric was left largely unaltered apart from a New York fire escape-style, centrally-placed, steel-pivoted staircase. The refurbishment has been the subject of several major architecture and design awards and attracts many visitors in its own right.
Murray’s programme in the newly refurbished space included film work by Iranian artist Shirin Neshat, the incredibly popular king of kitsch, Jeff Koons, and the hauntingly beautiful work of photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto. After 11 successful years, Murray left to pursue other projects in 2003 and in May of that year The Fruitmarket Gallery appointed a new Director, Fiona Bradley.
Bradley studied art history at King’s College, Cambridge and the Courtauld Institute. Her gallery career began at Tate, where she worked in the education department in London before joining the staff of Tate, Liverpool as Exhibitions Curator in 1994. In 1998 she moved to London’s Hayward Gallery where she organised several large-scale exhibitions, including a solo exhibition of work by Douglas Gordon. Since her appointment to The Fruitmarket Gallery in 2003, she has overseen the rebranding of the Gallery and has refocused the creative programme, showing Scottish and International artists as part of the same programme, while also increasing the commissioning and publishing activity of the Gallery. Solo exhibitions of the work of Louise Bourgeois, Cai Guo-Qiang, Nathan Coley, Ellen Gallagher, Aernout Mik, Louise Hopkins, Lucy Skaer, Simon Patterson, Fred Sandback and Fred Tomaselli have attracted increased audiences to the Gallery, while a new strand of group exhibitions, curated by artists and curators from outside the Gallery has included Tacita Dean’s An Aside, David Hopkins Dada’s Boys and Childish Things and the exhibition Close-Up, Proximity and defamiliarisation in photography, film and art which is curated by Dawn Ades and Simon Baker.