OMENS could not be better for the 20/21 British Art Fair, which, from September 15 to 19, returns to its roots at the Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7 after a couple of years down the road at The Commonwealth Institute.
Now in its 17th year, the fair, which remains the only one
dedicated to British art from 1900 to the present, is spot-on with
current market trends.
If any fair can be almost guaranteed a favourable reception -
nobody can ever guarantee sales - it is one which offers a wealth
of Modern British works.
When it was founded in 1988 by its present organisers, Gay Hutson
and Angela Wynn, works by most of the artists represented cost a
fraction of their current value.
The present market for Modern British has never been stronger and
numerous records have been set in the past year. The highs include
£4.4m paid in New York last June for a Munnings from the famous
Whitney Collection and £3.6m for a Henry Moore sculpture, also in
Further down the price scale, there have been new highs for Duncan
Grant and the demand for Post-War abstract artists like Peter
Lanyon and Terry Frost is increasing at a pace.
From the greats like Bacon, Freud and Hockney to younger
Contemporary artists like Damien Hirst, the market has never been
All these artists are represented at the 20/21 British Art Fair,
so little wonder that among the 60 exhibitors are top dealers like
Agnews, Crane Kalman, Marlborough, Redfern, Julian Hartnoll and
Peter Nahum, who have long recognised the commercial clout of this
The event was given added prestige last year when Richard Green
and fellow Mayfair dealer Messum's joined its ranks. It is an
indication of the buoyancy of this field that Richard Green, the
UK's number one dealer in terms of sales, recently has moved
heavily into 20th century British work.
Both are back this year when there is only one newcomer, the
Grosvenor Gallery of Albe-marle Street, W1, who will add weight to
the fair's representation of British sculpture.
Naturally, the household names like Lowry, Bacon and Frink will
cost many thousands of pounds, but there will be works available
for less than £1000 from artists who might be the household names
of the future.
Everyone thought the Commonwealth Institute was a splendid
setting, but with its closure as a fairs venue there are few
regrets at the return to the Royal College, where the fair
Indeed, quirky as it is as a venue, The Royal College is where
many of the artists featured on the stands started their careers,
and in that respect the fair is going back to its natural
A couple of lectures are part of the programme and proceedings
start at 3pm on September 15 with the official opening at 5pm by
Jon Snow, the Channel 4 news presenter, who has had a lifelong
interest in art and is a Trustee of the National Gallery.
Admission is £8.
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