Market focus: All’s fair at art fairs
The beginning of March saw the auspicious inauguration of a new contemporary art fair on the London art calendar, Art13 at Olympia. Apart from attracting many serious collectors and a certain member of the teen-sensation pop group One Direction, the fair itself seemed to be plotting a rather more diverse, global course than its rival London offerings. It also offered price-points that were accessible to younger, entry-level buyers who might otherwise be put off by the big-ticket items at the Frieze Art Fair in the autumn.
The art-going calendar is already stuffed with international fairs and biennials, usually prompting the question of who can possibly be attending them all and for what purpose. But the alternate positioning of Art13, which no doubt will be clearer by the time Art14 rolls around, suggests that there is room for added competition even in a sector as crowded as the art fair circuit.
If, in our fast-paced world, art fairs are increasingly seen as the most efficient marketplaces for selling contemporary art (and to a lesser degree antiques and other collectables), then it also makes sense that there should be different events catering for the different echelons of galleries and varying wallet-sizes of collectors. With prestigious fairs cropping up everywhere from Dubai and Hong Kong to São Paolo and Mexico, it seems that the next diversification might not be geographical but commercial, with art fairs giving platforms to ever younger artists and more affordable work. Any fair that functions to feed new shoots in the art trade, at whatever level, should be applauded, so long as it doesn’t stick to just one direction.
London speaks the Latin lingo
London seems to be awash with Latin American artists at the moment. Many great female exponents of geometrical abstraction from South America have passed through town recently, from 98-year-old Cuban painter, Carmen Herrera (shown at Lisson Gallery) and 91-year-old Brazilian Judith Lauand (at Stephen Friedman), as well as a few younger artists, such as Edith Dekyndt from Mexico (at Carl Freedman) and Fernanda Gomes (at Alison Jacques – another of whose artists, Ana Mendieta, will be the subject of a major Hayward exhibition in October).
This trend is set to continue, partly gracias to another relative newcomer to the summer art fair season, Pinta London, Europe’s only art fair dedicated to modern and contemporary Latin American art, which is now an annual fixture every June at the Earls Court exhibition centre. There will be a whole host of Latin American events taking place in parallel to Pinta, when it will be the turn of the boys to exhibit around town, with solo shows for two fantastic Argentine sculptors Leandro Erlich at the Barbican and Adrián Villar Rojas at the Serpentine Gallery. The connections between London and Latin America are nothing new, but perhaps the arrival of so many artists from the region signifies an intensification of the city’s international status, as well as a reflection of the gathering strength of the collectors emerging in those countries, given that Brazil now accounts for one per cent of global art sales or €455 million per annum, according to TEFAF’s annual market survey.
The fourth edition of Pinta London is at Earls Court, June 4-7
Barocci or bust
The National Gallery in London is hosting a major exhibition entitled ‘Brilliance and Grace’, of the work of the little-known Old Master, Federicco Barocci (1533-1613), although anyone with a working knowledge of the finest Roman, Florentine or Umbrian churches will certainly have heard of this prolific painter of altarpieces. This show has indeed left some sizeable holes above many an Italian altar, as one member of the Seymours team discovered on a recent trip to Rome. He was frustrated to find so many great pieces, such as Barocci’s ‘Visitation’ and his ‘Institution of the Eucharist’ missing from the Chiesa Nuova and the church of Santa Maria, while he noticed similar yawning gaps on walls owing to a current Titian show at the Scuderia. Still, not many make the pilgrimage to see Barocci’s magnificent ‘Entombment’ at the Compagnia del Santissimo Sacramento e Croce in the out-of-the-way coastal town of Senigallia, so perhaps the National Gallery is not such a bad temporary home for the stunning works of this notoriously travel-shy artist from Urbino.
‘Barocci: Brilliance and Grace’ is at the National Gallery until May 19
Old to the New
An unconventional display at an antique dealer caught our eye earlier this year, when Harris Lindsay staged a mixed show of contemporary artists nestling among their own collection of period furniture and Oriental works of art. Artists such as Adam Dant, Tom Price, Des Hughes and Charlotte Hodes, who normally exhibit with two East End galleries, Ancient & Modern and Hales, had invaded the window and interiors of the Jermyn Street shop, butting up against an eighteenth-century bureau or an Arts and Crafts walnut chair.
Yet, the juxtaposition of old and new was surprisingly harmonious and far from jarring, perhaps given the contemporary artists’ use of traditional techniques, such as découpage and sepia ink drawing, as well as such familiar materials as bronze, ceramic, and gouache. Indeed, many of the best collections employ this kind of eclectic approach; meaning one should never discount any era of art or object as inappropriate. Quality and taste must be passed down through the centuries so that each subsequent generation of artists and makers can appreciate the historical resonance they have with their forefathers.
Harris Lindsay can be found at 67 Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6NY