See 15 Exceptional Finds at Masterpiece London

From skeletons to bronzes, a whistle-stop tour of London's answer to TEFAF.

Photo: © artnet News
Photo: © artnet News

Now in its fifth edition, London’s Masterpiece has finally found its place in the crowded art fair calendar. Even contemporary art champions Jay Joplin and Charles Saatchi made it to the VIP opening on June 25, which also welcomed designer Tom Ford and rock star Rod Stewart.

Described by a dealer as a “snapshot of TEFAF with an English eccentric twist,” Masterpiece hosts over 150 dealers with an offer spanning 3,000 years of art and design. It’s a place for enlightened amateurs, as keen on French furniture as they might be on diamond earrings, painting, or Victoriana. This year, the fair also boasts a sculpture park retracing the career of modern British sculpture Phillip King, courtesy of Thomas Dane Gallery.

The Chelsea fair is a great opportunity to dig out exceptional, rare, or quirky pieces – some of them all of above. artnet News takes its pick.

Photo: © artnet News

Photo: © artnet News

Contemporary tapestries and marble, Tomasso Brothers Fine Art, London
The Tomasso Brothers have a knack for combining ancient and modern art (their Damien Hirst showcase at TEFAF raised a few delighted eyebrows). They strike again at Masterpiece, this time inviting the Parisian Galerie Chevalier to exhibit some of their exquisite tapestries from the 1970s and 1980s, including a piece by Mathieu Matégot, presented alongside 19th century marbles.

 

Photo: © artnet News

Photo: © artnet News

Butterfly painting, Dickinson, London
This might have been at the back of Hirst‘s mind when he developed his signature butterfly works. This piece, entitled Pied de Mur aux Demi-Deuil, is the brainchild of Art Brut champion Jean Dubuffet and dates from 1957.

 

Photo: © artnet News

Photo: © artnet News

Gold hat, Adrian Sassoon, London
Goldsmith Giovanni Corvaja was the buzz of TEFAF last March, and he’s getting much attention at Masterpiece with this headpiece, entirely made of gold threads, each measuring between 15 and 20 microns in diameter. It took 2,500 hours to complete and is, literally, the crown of his “Golden Fleece” collection.

 

Photo: © artnet News

Photo: © artnet News

Burnt piano, Carpenters Workshop, London
Well, to be precise it’s the Smoke Pleyel Piano by designer Maarten Baas. To create this surreal number, the Dutch maverick took all of the instrument’s innards out, burnt the box with a torch, and stabilized the result with resin, before getting piano giant Pleyel to put it back together. We were assured it has lost none of its acoustic qualities.

 

Photo: © artnet News

Photo: © artnet News

Mammoth earrings, Hemmerle, Munich
Yes, that’s right. These delicate hoops are made with 40,000 years old petrified mammoth tusk, offset by pavé set pearls from the South China Sea.

 

Photo: Adrien Millot

Photo: Adrien Millot

Matisse Prints, Frederick Mulder Ltd, London
You’ve seen it at Tate Modern, now you can buy it at Masterpiece. Mulder Ltd is cannily attracting punters with a bijou display of Henri Matisse’s Jazz prints, which captured his transition from painting to cut-outs. Also on the booth of this print specialist is Pablo Picasso’s entire Vollard Suite, 100 etchings commissioned by the legendary dealer Ambroise Vollard, which took the Spaniard seven years to complete.

 

Photo: © artnet News

Photo: © artnet News

Fancy shadow puppet, Blain Southern, London
Quite. This intricate artwork, The Masterpiece, was commissioned by the gallery from Tim Noble & Sue Webster especially for the fair. Using the duo’s signature device, an assemblage of mummified animals cast in silver projects a shadow shaped as a double portrait.

 

Photo: © artnet News

Photo: © artnet News

Two Sam Francis acrylics on paper, Osborne Samuel, London
A lovely pair of intimate works (both Untitled, 1978 and 1979), that manage to capture all the energy of Francis’s more ambitious compositions on a surface no bigger than an A4 sheet of paper.

 

Photo: © artnet News

Photo: © artnet News

“Soft” marble sculptures, Hirschl & Adler Modern, New York
A mind-blowing selection of Carrara marble pieces by the Californian Elizabeth Turk. So boundary-pushing is her intricate carving technique (which involves dental tools in its late stages) that Turk has received the MacArthur Foundation fellowship.

 

Photo: © artnet News

Photo: © artnet News

Breathing Pillow, Leila Heller Gallery
An uncanny contraption by the Swiss designer Rolf Sachs, poetic and creepy in equal measures. It makes an unexpected centerpiece for a booth dedicated to the likes of Mimmo Rotella, Maurice Estève, and Jean Dubuffet.

 

Photo: © artnet News

Photo: © artnet News

Bronze dominos, Bowman Sculpture, London
A delightful little sculpture by the grande dame of British modernism Barbara Hepworth, who appropriates the familiar shape of domino pieces for her experiments in space and volume in this Two Forms (Domino) from 1969.

 

Photo: © artnet News

Photo: © artnet News

Baby Skeleton, Finch & Co, London
Finch & Co’s booth feels like a wunderkammer, straight out of a long-gone era. Among the horns, shells, and exotic, is this awkwardly appealing human skeleton of an “unusually tall newborn displaying gigantism,” from the mid-19th century.

 

Photo: © artnet News

Photo: © artnet News

A life-sized artist’s studio, Sladmore Contemporary, London
Sladmore grafted the entire studio of the equine-obsessed Nic Fiddian Green to the fair. The bold move has paid off. The booth was buzzing during the opening, and it won the Stand of the Year award.

 

Photo: © artnet News

Photo: © artnet News

Bronze Concetto Spaziale Natura, Brun Fine Art, London
Lucio Fontana’s “slash paintings” may be the stars of the auction block, but sculpture remains a much lesser known aspect of the Italian artist’s work. These two small bronzes, Concetto Spaziale Natura (1967), provide a glimpse into this fascinating aspect of his production.

 

Photo: © artnet News

Photo: © artnet News

Photograph of Andy Warhol, Mallett, London and New York
Who doesn’t like an Andy Warhol portrait? Reminiscing about the shoot, photographer Harry Benson remarked how the Pop king “always knew how to make himself look interesting.” He’s posing in front of his diptych of singer Pia Zadora­—the ensemble set off here by two golden tureens. No doubt Warhol himself would have reveled in the lushness of the setting.

 

Masterpiece London 2014 runs through Wednesday, July 2nd. 

 

 

 


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