The message at the 33rd London Original Print Fair (LOPF), despite the power – and the prices – of its offerings, is that all visitors are welcome.
Returning to London’s Royal Academy of Arts for its 33rd staging, the fair runs from May 3-6 and hosts 50 dealers who offer Old Master to contemporary prints.
Representatives of museums, established private collectors, artists and printmakers all gather here annually to catch up as well as to admire and acquire some of the finest prints by the likes of Albrecht Dürer, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and modern masters such as David Hockney, Chris Orr and Anita Klein.
Still, as with any art fair, LOPF seeks to attract new clients to its dealers’ stands. It has devised tactics based on education and entertainment to bring fresh young buyers into the presence of its top-quality exhibits.
After all, in terms of price point, prints can be among the most accessible artworks. Even prints created by the most famous artists tumble in value compared to one-off creations. While a Matisse painting may easily cost millions, for example, one of those on offer at LOPF is priced at £900.
Among the attractions is LOPF’s Young Collectors’ Evening returning this year, with talks and printmaking demonstrations aimed at a more youthful audience.
Then there’s the launch this year of A Buyer’s Guide to Prints, written by fair director Helen Rosslyn. The guide (published by the RA, £9.95), is devised as an accessible survey covering the production of prints, compiled with tips from dealers, conservators, framers and artists.
Another feature at this edition of the event is an ‘Art Bus’, designed by British pop artist Peter Blake.
Described as a ‘mobile work of art’ (it is literally a double-decker bus, highly decorated), it will spend the fair parked in the RA courtyard, serving as a central point for a weekend of music, workshops and food trucks to entertain the whole family – given that the fair takes place over the early May Bank Holiday weekend.
Such innovations are, for many exhibitors, agreeable extras to an already strong event. Emanuel von Baeyer, for example, includes the LOPF among a small number of select fairs in his annual calendar of events comprising otherwise TEFAF Maastricht, Frieze Masters and New York’s Fine Art Print Fair.
“In the huge world of art fairs these days you don’t have so many focused events,” he tells ATG. “This is the only art fair that happens at the RA and you’re surrounded by art.”
He specialises in European prints from the 15th-20th centuries and brings a group of Italian Old Master prints, including works by Parmigianino, Castiglione and Guido Reni, from a private collection.
Maybe the market has changed over the years, von Baeyer says.
“As everywhere, the print market is dominated by the contemporary. There is the secondary market and a couple of art publishers. That’s the core in London.”
This is reflected in the fair’s mostly contemporary selection of exhibitors. But von Baeyer views all new entrants with equanimity.
“In a way, our stand is distinctive and I always see that people somehow appreciate it. Old Masters continues to be a small but lively market,” he says.
First-time exhibitors include Japanese print specialist Hanga Ten, Zuleika Gallery, which represents Lucien Freud and Dubuffet among others, and Saint Paulinus Press.
Returning exhibitors include Alan Cristea with 20th century and contemporary prints and Andrew Edmunds, specialist in English and French 18th and early 19th century prints.
Many contemporary exhibitors bring new editions. CCA Galleries will launch a series of screenprints by Peter Blake, while a new print by Jake and Dinos Chapman is showcased by Paupers Press.
The Hallett Independent Acquisitions Award returns and will bestow £8000 to a UK museum or gallery to spend at the fair.
Images are courtesy of their respective galleries.
New exhibitor mixes modern and contemporary
Collector and curator Greville Worthington is among the first-time exhibitors at the LOPF this year, standing as Saint Paulinus Press.
On his stand he features two portfolios of prints by contemporary artist Keith Coventry: Kebab (2014) and Crack Pipe (2017). Worthington and Coventry have worked closely on the development and publication of these original prints along with printer Christopher Bacon of Northumberland.
But Worthington does not think of himself as a dealer primarily. “The thing is, once you publish artworks, you have to sell them,” he says. “I have a real interest in art and I’ve collected all my life. I’ve published prints occasionally but that’s emerged from my work as a curator.”
So extensive is his collection, however, that when he decided to bulk up the selection on his LOPF stand he was able to draw on it for a number of works by modern British artist Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925-2006), who is known particularly for his maritime compositions.
“He passed away in relative obscurity, which has happened to a number of late-20th century artists who have been re-discovered years later. I thought it was a good moment to look back at his achievements,” Worthington says, adding that he hopes the fair will be a chance to raise the artist’s profile among museum buyers as well.