artnet Asks: Art Fair Brings Hidden Masterpieces to London

Masterpiece London kicks off the summer art season

Iván Navarro, Impenetrable Room (2017). Courtesy of Paul Kasmin Gallery.

This summer, ancient artifacts and contemporary compositions are on display at Masterpiece London. Since 2010, art enthusiasts and collectors interested in “cross-collecting” visit the annual event to view never-before-seen works from across the globe. This year, the fair is also showcasing an original installation work from Chilean artist Iván Navarro as part of their new initiative “Masterpiece Presents.”

Chairman Philip Hewat-Jaboor told artnet News what viewers can expect from Masterpiece 2017.

Philip Hewat-Jaboor. Photography by Andy Barnham Photography.

Cross-collecting is one of the fair’s emphasises. Why is this, and how does Masterpiece encourage cross-collecting?
I’ve always wondered when the barrier was erected between old art and contemporary [art]. Throughout history, people have always bought both old and contemporary works and exhibited them side-by-side. In this way, cross-collecting is not revolutionary, but so often, fairs divide their exhibitors by period or kind so that visitors can’t appreciate works on the same level. At Masterpiece, we will be presenting exceptional works for sale across a range of price points from over 150 exhibitors and across every major market discipline.

How do you expect Brexit and the UK election to affect the fair?

The end of June and the start of July is a vibrant time for London’s art scene. Masterpiece London is one of the centerpieces of the season and has become an unmissable event for international collectors, museum directors, and gallerists.

London is the center of the art market, and I am confident that we’ll see again this year that Brexit is not a deterrent [to our patrons]. We opened last year just days after the Brexit vote and saw reliable and sales. In fact, the weakness of the pound is a draw for collectors to buy in the United Kingdom. Masterpiece is a place where galleries and specialists from around the world can be found under one roof.

Matteo Loves, Judith with the Head of Holofernes (c. 1620–1630). Courtesy of Galerie Giovanni Sarti.

How has Masterpiece developed over the last eight years?
Over the last eight years, we have sought to develop the fair’s depth and breadth, bringing together the best exhibitors in every field and presenting the finest works of art from 4,000 BC to the present day. We’ve remained true to our identity as a multidisciplinary fair maintaining a balance between the disciplines we present, while continuing to evolve the space and content of the fair to keep abreast of the direction of the art market.

We have placed an increasing emphasis on new younger collectors, which is made possible through the wide range of works we offer for sale.

Can you reveal any specific masterpieces being shown this year?
You can expect to see exceptional paintings from across history—from a beautiful Dutch landscape from 1882 by Vincent van Gogh, which is being presented by Dickinson, to a number of never-before-seen-on-the-market works from the pre-Raphaelites, such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Proserpine from 1878 and Joseph Solomon Solomon’s Eve from c. 1908, which Agnew’s is bringing. [Additionally] from Paris, Galerie G. Sarti will bring a dramatic painting from c. 1620–1630 by Matteo Loves showing Judith with the Head of Holofernes, a scene which has been depicted by painters Lucas Cranach the Elder to Paolo Veronese.

German-American photographer Horst P. Horst, whose work was recently celebrated in a retrospective at the Victoria & Albert Museum, will have works offered for sale at our new exhibitor, Bernheimer Fine Art Switzerland.

André Derain, Les trois Grâces (c. 1906). Courtesy of Stoppenbach & Delestre.

What is new this year?
We are looking forward to welcoming so many world-renowned exhibitors. This year, the fair launches Masterpiece Presents, an annual entrance installation project.We were keen to give our visitors an immediate, immersive, and unexpected welcome, as well as demonstrate and deepen our commitment to the contemporary and modern aspects of the fair. We invited Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York to transform the entrance with a site-specific installation titled Impenetrable Room, by the highly regarded Chilean artist Iván Navarro.

More and more dealers are holding works aside for Masterpiece, showing their confidence in the fair. For example, Long-Sharp Gallery is bringing a collection of new-to-the-market rare drawings by Andy Warhol from 1953–1957. New exhibitor Vertes will be bringing a work by Alexander Calder that has been in private hands since 1976, when the artist personally gifted it to Paul L. Meaders III when he visited Calder to prepare the artist’s will. Piano Nobile is offering a unique set of plates by artistic couple Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, which was commissioned by Kenneth Clark, the former director of the National Gallery, and has never been seen on the market before. These are just three of the many discoveries to be made at Masterpiece London.


Masterpiece London 2017 sponsored by Royal Bank of Canada takes place from June 29–July 5 (preview 28 June 28) at Royal Hospital Chelsea, London.

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