The 20/21 British Art Fair, now in its 28th year, is the only fair which exclusively covers Modern and Post-War British art. This year, it will take place at the Royal College of Art from 9th – 13th September.
The 55 dealers specialise in 20th and 21st century British art ranging from British Impressionism to pop and conceptual art of the 1960s and 70s and continues up to the present day.
The fair plays an important role within the market, promoting the specialised knowledge of dealers, some of whom work privately, who are supplying art for knowledgeable collectors and first time buyers alike at price points from a few hundred pounds to tens of thousands.
A newly-discovered portrait of Sir Winston Churchill by Walter Sickert (1860-1942) is set to attract international attention when it goes on display for the first time.
Priced at £50,000, this important work of art is for sale from The Court Gallery from West Quantoxhead, Somerset. Court Gallery director Denys Wilcox describes it as a very historic work that has come on the market for the first time, having originated by descent from the private collection of Paul Maze, the artist and friend of Churchill.
This year, the fair will once again reflect the consistent growth in the market for 20th century British artists as witnessed in the auction rooms and will present work by the most popular artists at auction.
Since last September’s fair, dozens of auction records have been broken at every level for artists whose work will be represented at the fair. Among the most spectacular has been the rapid rise in demand for the sculpture of the late William Turnbull (shown at 20/21 by the Merville Galleries) whose auction record now exceeds £700,000.
Of course, auction results are not the only measure of success and interest. Many galleries at the fair are displaying works by artists who have recently or are about to be celebrated with exhibitions in museums and public galleries.
Here is an orienteering map:
Four galleries will be exhibiting paintings by the Scottish artist William Gear whose centenary is celebrated this year with a major retrospective exhibition at the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne, including Whitford Fine Art and the Redfern Gallery, which represents the artist’s estate, both of whom have lent works to the retrospective.
Other 20/21 artists with museum shows are Barbara Hepworth at Tate Britain (Osborne Samuel); Sir Anthony Caro, whose career is currently being celebrated in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (Piano Nobile, Merville Galleries, Whitford Fine Art); Leon Underwood the subject of a recent survey at Pallant House (Redfern Gallery); Walter Sickert (England & Co, Court Gallery) and David Jones (Court Gallery), the subject of current and upcoming shows at Pallant House; Frank Auerbach (James Hyman), the subject of a retrospective at Tate Britain this autumn; John Hoyland (Goodman Fine Art, Gwen Hughes, Alan Wheatley) who has been selected by Damien Hirst as the subject for the opening show of his new gallery in South London in October; Terry Frost (Piano Nobile; Austin Desmond, Freya Mitton, Dominic Kemp, Whitford Fine Art) whose centenary is being celebrated at Tate St Ives this autumn; Bryan Wynter (Jonathan Clark, Alan Wheatley), who currently has special focus in Tate St Ives’; and Paul Nash (Waterhouse & Dodd, Simon Hilton, Babbington Fine Art) whose eagerly awaited retrospective takes place at Tate Britain next year. Whilst Dennis Creffield (James Hyman) was featured at Pallant House in 2014.
Scottish art is well represented throughout, particular through two specialised dealers, Duncan Miller and Ewan Mundy, who have both chosen to highlight Samuel John Peploe’s more affordable paintings of Iona, as well as works by the other colourists, Cadell, Fergusson and MacLauchlan Milne.
As ever, there is a strong representation of print galleries. Supplying early 20th century engravings by some of the year’s stars - Stanley Anderson (at the Royal Academy this year), Gertrude Hermes (an auction record breaker for her sculpture) and Eric Gill (also a record breaker for his sculpture) is Hilary Chapman. Post war abstraction (Henry Cliffe, William Scott) at Dominic Kemp. William Weston, one of the world’s most experienced modern print dealers, brings a taste of Bacon, Frink, Caulfield and Hirst, while Dominic Guerrini also keeps an eye on Britain’s international contemporary stars with works by works by Freud, Hockney, Hodgkin, Bridget Riley and Tracey Emin.
Photography buyers will welcome the inclusion this year of Pierre Spake who includes 20th century fashion photography by Norman Parkinson and Angus McBean’s surreal collages on his stand.
‘The British Art Fair has the reputation of being one of the happiest fairs of the year’ (Huon Mallalieu, Country Life, September 2014)