Wednesday - 22 October 2014

Art fair back to college – and set on a high degree of success

09 September 2004Written by ATG Reporter

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 New York.

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 more bullish.

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 fixture.

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 started.

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 home.

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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Written by

ATG Reporter

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