From Basquiat to Medieval Manuscripts, Here’s What to Expect at Masterpiece London 2017

For its eighth edition, the art fair is boosting its contemporary art offerings.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled (1981). Courtesy Samuel van Hoegarden.

From June 29-July 5, the fair Masterpiece London will return to the Royal Hospital Chelsea in the UK’s capital for its eighth edition. Gathering 153 international galleries (just one less than last year), the 2017 edition of the fair promises to exhibit the best in art, antiquities, design, and jewellery.

David Hockney, Afternoon Swimming (1979). Courtesy Lyndsey Ingram.

The fair typically draws up to 40,000 visitors each year, who attend the week-long event to view the wide array of pieces on offer, from antique treasures to contemporary art.

The year, the fair counts 29 new exhibitors, including New York’s Paul Kasmin; London’s Robin Katz Fine Art; and Galerie De Jonckheere, which has locations in Geneva and Monaco. Interestingly, 11 of these 29 galleries are returning to the fair after opting not to participate last year, signaling a revived interest in the event after its 2016 success.

The question leading up to this year’s opening is if the 2017 iteration will maintain momentum after last year’s fair, which reported healthy sales despite occurring on the heels of the controversial Brexit vote.

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

The effort to keep up this high energy and inject fresh elements—most notably, a bid to bring more contemporary art to the fair—can be seen in the launch of a new feature called “Masterpiece Presents,” which will see the fair joining forces with newcomer Paul Kasmin Gallery to commission a large-scale installation, located right by the fair’s entrance.

Titled Impenetrable Room, the installation by Chilean artist Iván Navarro definitely amps up the fair’s contemporary angle. And it’s not just for show: this cutting-edge, immersive work will be available for purchase, for a cool $900,000.

“Masterpiece has always offered collectors the opportunity to view and buy masterworks from antiquity to the present day, and this year we are stretching boundaries,” the organizers said in a statement.

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

The fair will also pay tribute to its setting in the heart of central London, featuring staples of the city’s gallery scene like Robin Katz Fine Art, Osborne Samuel Piano Nobile, Lyndsey Ingram, and Christopher Kinglet. These galleries will all show works by British Modern masters such as Henry Moore, Howard Hodgkin, Bridget RileyBarbara Hepworth, and David Hockney.

One of the biggest highlights of this year’s edition is, no doubt, a 1981 Jean-Michel Basquiat work on paper at Belgium’s Samuel van Hoegaarden Gallery, which has a price of £400,000 ($509,200). Meanwhile, a stunning Luba ivory pendant from the 19th century, shown by Patrick & Ondine Mestdagh, will cost you £40,000 ($50,920).

Meanwhile, a stunning watercolor by André Derain titled Les trois Grâces (1906) will be available at the booth of Stoppenbach & Delestre for €280,000 ($312,000).

Luba ivory pendant (19th century). Courtesy Patrick & Ondine Mestdagh

Les Enluminures—which has branches in New York, Paris, and Chicago—will display a royal manuscript, dating back to 1370-80, that was commissioned by the court of King Charles V of France. Remarkably, the manuscript’s provenance remains nearly unbroken despite its age, and it has not been up for public sale for more than 25 years—two factors that will make it especially appealing to buyers, who can own it for a steep $4,500,000.

Histoire Ancienne jusqu’à César and Fait des Romains. Illuminated manuscript on parchment (c. 1370-80). Courtesy Les Enluminures.

The gallery is also presenting a 13th-century missal from Soissons, France ($1,500,000) as well as a $95,000 Roman ring bearing the inscription “Utere Felix,” which translates roughly from Latin to “use it with luck.” Presumably made for a high-ranking member of the Roman Empire, the ring’s designs match with other jewellery from the 2nd to 4th centuries AD.

Oak Country House Post Box (Circa 1860 – 1870). Courtesy Apter Fredericks.

Among the oddball collectibles are Oak Country House Post Box (1860—70), shown by Apter-Fredericks and priced at £32,000 ($41,251), or the sterling silver tankard from 1708 (during an era known as the Queen Anne period) brought by Ambrose Stephenson, which costs $50,920.

Of particular note is the teaming-up of New York-based Safani Gallery—which shows museum quality works of ancient art—with Washington D.C.’s Geoffrey Diner Gallery, which specializes in pre- and post-WWII furniture and art.

This nontraditional pairing of ancient Egyptian, Roman, and Greek antiquities alongside 20th century and contemporary design ultimately plays up the fair’s intention to encourage cross-collecting.

For example, the duo’s display includes a Greek marble head of Demeter from 400 BC (priced at $550,000), paired next to the 1973 Condoid bench by George Nakashima for $110,000. Also available is and Egyptian bronze statue of Bastetwhich dates back to 663-525 BC and can be purchased for $365,000.

Greek Marble Head of Demeter from 400 BC (4th century BC). Courtesy Safani Gallery.

“It is our hope that visitors to Masterpiece will appreciate that great art transcends time, and that any work of art, whether it is modern or thousands of years old, has the ability to communicate beauty or emotion to those who view it,” gallerist Alan Safani said in conversation with artnet News.

The 2017 edition of the art fair Masterpiece London will take place at The Royal Hospital Chelsea, from June 29 – July 5, 2017.


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