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By Tom Teodorczuk, November 21, 2011

Harry Blain, co-founder of the Blain Southern gallery in Mayfair, has opened a new Manhattan space, Blain Di Donna, with former Sotheby’s vice-chairman Emmanuel Di Donna.  The pair’s inaugural exhibition, a show of paintings by Belgian Surrealist René Magritte, has drawn packed crowds to the Upper East Side hotel The Carlyle since it opened a fortnight ago.

Blain Di Donna’s Dangerous Liaisons show is New York’s biggest Magritte exhibition for more than two decades and features Magritte’s erotic masterpiece Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1935) which is on display for the first time in 25 years.

The New York Observer called Blain “Britain’s most powerful man in BritArt” and visitors to his new gallery included actor Mark Ruffalo and author Jonathan Franzen.  Blain, a former stock broker, founded the Haunch of Venison gallery and sold it to Christie’s in 2007, leaving last year to set up Blain Southern.

He told the Standard: “It’s been really encouraging to get this response.  New York has always had a thirst for contemporary art and Magritte has achieved much greater recognition in recent years.”

“Many of the pictures in the exhibition hadn’t been seen for two or three decades and people haven’t had the opportunity to engage with the works for a long time so I don’t think anything like it has been seen in New York for quite a few years.”

Art dealer Jean Zimmermann said: “Blain Di Donna’s Magritte exhibition is without doubt the most prestigious gallery show of 2011.  I’ve been twice and both times it was packed.”

Viviane Silvera, a contemporary artist and leading art tour guide for New York’s wealthiest collectors, said: “They have beautiful Magrittes – it’s a gorgeous show taking advantage of the fact that he’s the top surrealist painter and his prices keep going up.”

Blain Southern will show a comprehensive survey of drawings by Lucian Freud next February which will then travel to New York.

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