Masterpiece London VIP Sales

After three years of exclusively online projects and private viewings, London’s multidisciplinary Masterpiece show opened to VIPs at the Royal Hospital Chelsea yesterday (until July 6) with a festive air.

Guests were greeted by a sunny entrance dominated by large-scale drawings of yellow anemones by British artist Sarah Graham, and a buzz of conversation suggesting sales were underway. The armed robbery at TEFAF the day before seemed to have done nothing to upset anyone.

There was a comfortable mix of new galleries (Jonathan Clark Fine Art, Waddington Custot and Adrian Sutton) and more familiar ones (including Dickinson, Charles Ede, Annely Juda Fine Art, Philip Mold and Pangolin), while a new focus of the floor plan (rotating 90 degrees) brought a calmer crowd flow to the 11th edition of the fair.

Sculptures exhibited in the aisles of masterpieces Ben Fisher Photography, courtesy of Masterpiece London

Relocating the cocktail bars to the sides of the tent has also allowed for greater prominence for the series of sculptures, curated this year by Melanie Vandenbrouck, curator of sculpture at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Three-dimensionality was certainly abundant, with works such as David Annesley Untitled (1969), Angela Palmer The final frontier (2021) and Lynn Chadwick walking woman bronze sculpture (1984), which sold for just under £2 million by the end of day one.

“People are looking for different experiences and their sense of space has changed,” says Lucie Kitchener, President and CEO of Masterpiece. “Experiencing art digitally can be quite a lonely experience, so there’s something very celebratory about coming together to experience it collectively.”

David Aaron’s 66 million year old triceratops skull Ben Fisher Photography, courtesy of Masterpiece London

As promised in the pre-fair announcements, there was also an abundance of natural world references throughout the booths. The impressive 66-68 million year old triceratops skull that sits on David Aaron’s stand quickly sold for an undisclosed sum to a ‘young’ private collector. Gallery director Salomon Aaron suggested that there is “a developing collector base, but with a lot of crossover with pre-existing clients – after all, collecting and curiosity go hand in hand”.

Amethyst from the Goboboseb Mountains (23cm), from Fine Minerals International Photo: James Elliott

Meanwhile, New York-based Fine Minerals International drew quite a crowd for its inaugural presentation at the fair. It brought in more than $1 million in VIP day sales, including that of a fluorite from Russia, discovered in the 1980s and considered one of the “greatest known examples of superior quality”. It sold to a “well-known mineral collector who came from overseas”, with a price tag of around $600,000.

“We decided to do Masterpiece [in part because] it was a vision of the late President Philip Hewat-Jaboor. He wanted to raise awareness in the artistic community about this exciting area of ​​collecting that has not been shared with the community, in a way like this before,” says Daniel Trinchillo, the gallery’s founder.

Gogottes exhibited at ArtAncient Ben Fisher Photography, courtesy of Masterpiece London

Combining the sculptural and natural worlds was London’s ArtAncient, whose collection of little-understood gogottes (natural sandstone formations from the prehistoric sand dunes of Fountaineblue, near Paris) cost between £4,500 and £150,000, eight of which sold during the premiere.

The conference program picks up on the fair’s broader focus on female talent “undiscovered” female talent, which included a painting by Anne of Cleves (1825) by Marie Victoire Jacquotot at E&H Manners and A blue and yellow macaw (circa 1800) by Sarah Stone, the first British female painter of birds and animals to receive professional recognition. The work, on the stand of Karen Taylor Fine Art, was in reserve for a museum.

Away from the gallery stands there were stimulating light installations All the flowers are for me (2017) and This is NOT a Refuge II (2018) by American-Pakistani artist Anila Quayyum Agha, represented by Sundaram Tagore Gallery. An exhibition dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, organized by the Factum Foundation and Skene Catling de la Peña, also offered a stimulating respite after roaming the tent floors.

Celebrating the event of multidisciplinarity with its touch of luxury can sometimes feel like a bubble. But, after tough years that have seen a global pandemic, the fallout from Brexit and a lingering cost-of-living crisis, looking at “beautiful” things can feel pretty sweet.

About Wesley Williamson

Check Also

What is Dazzling Camouflage?

In the 21st century, dazzling camouflage has moved from maritime warfare to a less destructive …