Masterpiece London 2016 Opens with a Buoyant Mood Post Brexit Vote

Discussions revolved around which currency was preferable, to whom, and why.

Blain Southern at Masterpiece London, 2016. Photo ©Andy Barnham. Courtesy Masterpiece London

Masterpiece London is the first fair to take place here following the Brexit result of last week that has shaken the country and continues to do so in myriad ways. Now in its seventh edition, the fair has been under the stewardship of Nazy Vassegh for three years and in that time has developed from a fair that proudly focused on luxury and the decorative arts to one which has evolved to also include a wide range of fine art.

Conversations on opening day were peppered with concern over the impact of Brexit on European trade and which currency was preferable, to whom, and why. In the face of the current political turmoil, Masterpiece CEO Vassegh was considered: “On Friday I was having an out of body experience, I think I was in shock and then I started to look at all the facts,” she recalled.

“We’ve all known that the referendum was happening last week and that didn’t put off my exhibitors so it shouldn’t put me off. If they’re confident, I’m confident.”

Vassegh added that she was also encouraged as she saw the quality of work and the effort exhibitors have put into the presentation; the booths at Masterpiece are truly something to behold.

Artworks on view includes masterpieces by Claude Monet, Anthony van Dyke, John Constable, and Lucio Fontana. These works are on sale alongside fine jewelry and design items—a highlight this year is a pink sapphire broach by fine art jewelry legend, Jar, that sold in the first couple of hours of VIP day for an undisclosed sum in the seven figures.

Early sales included Untitled (Superficie) (1961) by Enrico Castellani for €700,000 that went to a European private collection sold by M&L Fine Art, and two large, striking sculptural works at £65,000 each sold by the London based gallery Based Upon. Stockholm gallery Modernity also sold a 1920s long case clock by Jens Jacob Bregno for £100,000 to an anonymous Scandinavian collector.

David Gill  has staged a wonderful non-selling booth dedicated to Zaha Hadid. As her first gallery representative, they are showing drawings, designs, shoes, jewelry, and furniture created by the late architect.

Dickinson at Masterpiece London 30 June - 6 July 2016 (2). Photo credit Andy Barnham. Courtesy Masterpiece London

Dickinson Gallery at Masterpiece London 2016. Photo ©Andy Barnham Courtesy Masterpiece London.

London gallery Dickinson created a lot of interest at their stand with a newly authenticated Van Dyck work Madonna, Child and St. John (1627), discovered by gallery founder Simon Dickinson, and a rare Juan Gris still life Nature Morte (1916), as well as works by JMW Turner and Edward Lear.

The gallery reported discussions and items placed on reserve but no sales on VIP preview day. There’s plenty of time for negotiations at Masterpiece, as the fair runs for an entire week and doesn’t close until July 6.

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Lucio Fontana, Untitled (1953). Photo courtesy Cortesi Gallery

There is a strong showing of post-war Italian art at the fair and Cortesi gallery, in their first year exhibiting at Masterpiece with a rare glazed ceramic by Lucio Fontana, Untitled (1953) and a black and white work on paper by Zero Group’s Heinz Mack. Mazzoleni also has an impressive stand of post-war Italian work on view with works by Castellani, Bonalumi, Fontana, and Burri plus abstract work by Piero Dorazio.


Frank Stella at Lyndsey Ingram. Photo Amah-Rose Abrams

Newly founded Lyndsey Ingram is showing a small but perfectly formed booth of works on paper that included lithographs by Frank Stella and prints by Donald Judd, and Ellsworth Kelly that is definitely worth a visit.

William Weston sold an Alexander Calder work as I stood at the stand with the buyer quite literally carrying the work away with him. Also on view at the stand are a preparatory work by Christo for the Avenue des Champs Elysees “wrapped trees” project and a mixed media work by Roy Lichtenstein, Seascape (1964).


Claude Monet Dejeuner sous la Tente, Giverny at Gladwell & Patterson (1883-85). Photo Amah-Rose Abrams

Gladwell & Patterson are showing a range of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works, with a stunning, large, work by Claude Monet—with a price tag of around £13.5 million—Dejeuner sous la Tente, Giverny (1883-85). Richard Green, as always, have staged a great booth of Impressionist, post-Impressionist, and post-war work with paintings by Marc Chagall, Pierre Bonnard, Ivon Hitchens, and L.S Lowry.

The overall impression from the fair’s opening was that the atmosphere was busy with inquiries, with some early sales being made, and with most dealers reporting a lot of browsing and excitement but no definite sales.

Masterpiece London 2016 is on view until July 6. 

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