Running from January 16-20, the fair hosts more than 100 exhibitors from around the world in Islington’s Business Design Centre. It features a wealth of works that are likely to appeal particularly to British buyers and admirers of British art.
For example, at the stand of Christopher Kingzett Fine Art is a selection of works on paper by British artist Graham Sutherland (1903-80) including a drawing showing two studies of Winston Churchill’s right hand. These were completed in preparation for Sutherland’s notorious 1954 portrait of the prime minister, which was commissioned by the Houses of Parliament.
The finished portrait was presented to the statesman on his 80th birthday and during the reception Churchill remarked that it was “a remarkable example of modern art. It certainly combines force and candour”.
However, the portrait was not put on display when it was taken to Churchill’s country home at Chartwell. Later it became clear that Lady Churchill had destroyed it months after its delivery.
The study is among a number of sketches Sutherland completed at Chartwell, most concentrating on Churchill’s hands and face. This particular work shows the sitter’s hands as though poised to do the trademark victory sign.
Also focusing on Modern British art at the fair is Crane Kalman Gallery, this year celebrating its 70th anniversary, and bringing works by artists such as Barbara Hepworth, LS Lowry, Alfred Wallis and Edward Burra. Other dealers showing Mod Brits include Alan Wheatley Art and Waterhouse & Dodd (see 5 Questions below).
Gormleys Fine Art brings a selection of major recognisable modern and contemporary names. Among its highlights is a watercolour by the Spanish modernist Joan Miró (1893-1983), which the gallery acquired to show at the fair. According to the gallery’s Gerard Gormley, original works by Miró “are there in the market, but it’s rare to get one of this quality. It’s not a test piece or a study for a larger work. It’s got all those classic Miró features and is nice from a tonal point of view.”
Also available from Gilden’s Art Gallery is an original gouache by US artist Alexander Calder (1898-1976), primarily known for his works as a sculptor, particularly his mobiles. With its primary colours and thin lines, however, Untitled 1963 has much of the same aesthetic appeal.
The gallery’s Stephen Gallagher says: “The use of primary colours makes his works quite clean in composition. Although Calder stood outside many of the 20th century’s movements, his work is so distinctive you can’t confuse it with anyone else.”