Thursday, January 25, 2007

Reflections on the London Art Fair

Last Sunday I went to the London Art Fair. It was really buzzing! It had galleries on three floors, used all the available space in the Business Design Centre in Islington and was absolutely packed with people looking at art with their wallets at the ready!

The Fair comprises most (if not all) the leading galleries from Cork Street, Old Bond Street (eg Browse and Darby, Messums, Agnews, ) and beyond (eg the Lemon Street Gallery in Truro) and included some, such as The Fine Art Partnership, which don't have a physical gallery but rather trade exclusively in the original works of art on paper through the internet and select fairs.

It exhibits and sells the sort of contemporary art which gets into the leading galleries - as well as established Masters who are already in Museums - with an emphasis on paintings and original prints although sculpture was well represented. (Maybe a bit more Lucien Freud than Damen Hirst?) Bottom line though it meant that the prices of much the original art was far from cheap. The least expensive things I saw were in the high hundreds and the most expensive were in the tens of thousands.

I gather the fair had done good business - we certainly saw a lot of red dots and some galleries were saying that the work of some artists had been selling very fast. Catalogues for the more popular had run out by the Sunday.

In London, the general impression seems to be that some galleries are not doing so well but that auctions and good quality art fairs are doing very good business. Having seen the depth and range of choice that anybody wanting to buy art has at a fair like this one I can well understand why anybody wanting to buy art will go to a fair in preference to a gallery - or will decide to buy work by an artists and/or become a client of a gallery at a fair. There's just so much choice - any collector will have more confidence about buying art having seen the huge range of alternatives. Unless they liked it all of course!

Do have a browse through the work of the artists represented by some of the galleries I've listed - it's a very stimulating experience, especially being able to see original drawings and original prints by modern masters. I found looking at contemporary art by excellent artists for four hours really helped me to understand better what I liked, didn't like and what sort of path I want my art to travel.

For all those artists who work in pastel take a look at the work - and the prices(!) of Andrew Hemingway (exhibited by Messums)

Some artists I liked included:
I met up with Vivien Blackburn (also known as "Vhere") who is a professional artist and who was there with members of her local Art Society. She's written an excellent post about the fair here - and I cannot hope to better it - well except for the fact that I've got a photo of what it looked like from the cafe area! It's always great to meet somebody you've been corresponding with in cyberspace for ages. As always you feel like you've known the person forever!

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  1. Wow! I've never seen such a large art fair. Lucky you to be able to attend. I can see where this would be an excellent venue for someone looking to buy art. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I wish I could get down to the Kurt Jackson show - those beetroot are wonderful!

    Though his landscapes/seascapes have to remain my first love!


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