NOW in its 15th year, and after a few hiccups, the 20/21 British Art Fair has been on a roll for the past couple of years and its popularity should only be enhanced by its move to the Common-wealth Institute in Kensington High Street, London W8, where it will run from September 18 to 22.
Until this year, this pioneering art emporium was housed in Kensington’s Royal College of Art and the move was prompted by rebuilding plans.
However, the transfer to the Institute is an exciting development and it is doubtful that the fair will return to the RCA – even if that institution ever decides to host fairs again.
The spacious, tiered galleries of the Institute will prove an irresistible backdrop to one of the success stories of the art fairs world.
While other sectors of the market have had more than their share of downs in recent years, one of the buoyant areas has been 20th century British art, an untapped area when organisers Gay Hutson and Angela Wynn homed in on it 15 years ago.
This varied field has also had its setbacks but is now resurgent. For some years this fair has been among the year’s most vibrant in terms of atmosphere and sales.
This year’s staging, which again features British painting, photography, sculpture and selected ceramics from 1900 to the present day, showcases 69 dealers, a larger number than usual in larger stands, courtesy of the layout of the new venue.
Some of the country’s top galleries have long participated at the fair, which this year has attracted a handful of newcomers, like London’s Bernard Jacobson Gallery, Maas Gallery, Alan Cristea Gallery and Rebecca Hossack.
Bacon, Freud, Frink, Hockney, Lowry and all the other great names of 20th century art are featured alongside many newer artists whose work might well be worth a speculative couple of hundred pounds. Prices range from around £100 to many thousands.
Worth visiting is the stand of another gallery making their debut, Paragon Press who will present prints by the high flyers of the last decade such as Damien Hirst. They will feature work by Peter Doig whose pictures have made more than £300,000 at auction this year, while just a decade ago he could have been bought at this fair for under £2000.
An innovation this autumn is a sculpture garden. Again the organisers are aided by an expert advisory committee that includes exhibiting dealers Julian Hartnoll and Peter Nahum.
Admission is £8.