The London Art Fair is a great place for new collectors to start out, says Chris Carter.
The London Art Fair in Islington gets the new year under way for the art market in the capital. More than 131 galleries from around the world will be on show from Wednesday, exhibiting contemporary art from the 20th century onwards. Last year, big-name works by Grayson Perry, Eduardo Paolozzi, Edward Burra and Pablo Picasso changed hands. This time around, pieces by David Hockney, Perry and Banksy will be up for grabs.
Hockney in particular had a stand-out year in 2018, with his Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) from 1972 fetching $90.3m at Christie’s in New York. The sale was, in the opinion of art magazine Apollo’s Susan Moore, the “most extreme case of hyperinflation” in a market where “works of art come to auction with estimates that bear no relation to an artist’s established market value”. Strong words. So, will the contemporary art market meet its reckoning in 2019 or will the good times continue to roll, at least for now?
“It’s hard to predict what will happen in any given year, but we hope the fair is able to build on its performance in its 2019 edition,” London Art Fair director Sarah Monk told MoneyWeek. But even if the bloated end of the market does flop over (and there’s nothing to say that it will – see right), there could still be bargains for art collectors willing to take a risk on relatively unknown artists. After all, says Monk, “London Art Fair nurtures collecting at all levels, from prints and editions starting in the hundreds to major works by internationally renowned artists and there is certainly scope to invest across this spectrum”.
Art Projects, an initiative that is now in its 15th year, sits alongside the main fair and aims to support “emerging” galleries and new artistic talent. This year, 33 galleries from 11 countries will come together to showcase “the most stimulating and innovative contemporary art practice today”, says Monk. London Art Fair has form, having played host to a number of successful artists early on in their careers. British artists Chris Ofili and Jenny Saville are two examples and both were awarded “rising star” awards at the fair in 1996. Those turned out to be good calls when you consider Saville’s Propped sold for £9.5m at Sotheby’s in London last year – proof that young, emerging artists can and do go on to become big names with prices to match. The winner of the 2018 De’Longhi Art Projects Artist Award for emerging talent, in case you were wondering, was Turkish artist Nilbar Güres. This year’s winner will be announced on Tuesday.
As with any sort of collecting, it’s a good idea to do your research before reaching for your wallet. Art fairs are a great place to start, since they “encourage new collectors into the market… while being less intimidating than visiting traditional galleries”, says Monk. “I hope that… London Art Fair allows visitors to make new connections and explore new territory.”
Runs until 20 January, £16 advance, LondonArtFair.co.uk.
New world order
“Miami mania” took hold last month as the 17th edition of Art Basel Miami Beach, plus more than a dozen satellite fairs, opened for business in Florida, says Melanie Gerlis in the Financial Times. Many of the 268 galleries had brought works reflecting “the new art-world order that seeks minority-ethnicity and female artists with socio-political overtones” in their work. “Buyers responded well.” Among the “VIP-day” sales, Mark Bradford’s Feather (2018 – pictured) sold for $5m, while Strained Roots (2014), by Ghanaian-born artist El Anatsui, sold for $1.2m.
Yet looks can be deceiving, says Brett Sokol in The New York Times. Many of the “dizzying” accompanying celebrity-studded fashion shows and private dinners, that at best had a tenuous connection to the world of art, “looked, well, marvellous”. But the real talk among monied collectors was on the effect of a skidding stockmarket coupled with a dramatic cooling of the price of luxury property around south Florida. Wealthy collectors aren’t quite sure what to make of it all, as art-collecting website Artsy’s Alexander Forbes discovered: “confronted with a partially gilded plate of risotto piled high with white truffle shavings at a dinner to celebrate the Haas Brothers’ show… a prominent designer and architect turned to me and shrugged, ‘People say that there’s a crisis coming, but I look around and I don’t see it’”.
An anonymous Dutch princess has put up for auction a number of artworks from the collection of William II, who reigned in the Netherlands from 1840 to 1849, according to website Dutch News. Among the lots for sale at Sotheby’s in New York on 30 January is Nude study of a young man with raised arms, a drawing by Dutch master Peter Paul Rubens that served as a study for an altarpiece in the cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp in Belgium. In the 1980s, it supposedly hung from the wall of the New York apartment of Princess Christina, the youngest sister of the former Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. The early 17th-century black chalk drawing is expected to sell for between $2.5m and $3.5m.
A dress worn by Princess Diana (pictured) at a banquet hosted by the Emir of Bahrain in 1986 sold last month for £161,200 (including fees) at Kerry Taylor Auctions in south London. The seller had bought the David & Elizabeth Emanuel dress for £200 in 1994 when the housekeeper of Mynde Park estate in Herefordshire, home to Diana’s close friend Caroline Twiston-Davies, brought the dress into the second-hand shop the seller was working in at the time. But the seller only realised the significance of her purchase when she saw the Princess of Wales wearing it in a documentary. A doll that belonged to the Queen as a child also sold at the same auction for £221,150.