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Record numbers attend 24th London Art Fair
Visitors at London Art Fair 2012.

LONDON.- London Art Fair today reports a record attendance for the 24th edition of the UK’s largest and longest running fair for contemporary and Modern British art.

25,020 visitors attended the event at the Business Design Centre, Islington between 18-22 January 2012, compared with the previous record of 24,389 in 2011. Many of the 120 galleries exhibiting have reported strong sales as a result of the increased interest, with the busiest day, Saturday 21 January, 1,000 up on visitor numbers for the previous year.

“We are delighted to have had so many visitors to our most successful London Art Fair to-date”, commented Jonathan Burton, Director. “The fair is often a barometer for the year ahead, so let’s hope that this positive start will ring true for the rest of 2012.”

The increased footfall did not go un-noticed, with a number of regular galleries including Osborne Samuel, Danielle Arnaud, Pratt Contemporary and BEARSPACE reporting their busiest fair to date.

With quantity also came, quality. “There were some good, decisive buyers” said gallerist Stephen Paisnel, who sold paintings by Terry Frost and John Hoyland in the region of £40,000 each, as well as an exceptional Leon Underwood for under £20,000.

Visitors were also “more serious and better informed”, said Rebecca Hicks of Purdy Hicks, whose artists sold well across the board, including a number of large photographs by Tom Hunter. Gallery owner Danielle Arnaud, meanwhile, was pleased by the “wide age range” of attendees.

Despite economic concerns, the atmosphere was refreshingly upbeat. “It felt like pre-recessionary times”, said Sarah Myerscough, who sold a Merete Rasmussen piece to the Fitzwilliam Museum and several Maisie Broadhead photographs, some of which will feature in a National Gallery exhibition later in the year. Louise Jones of Lemon Street Gallery concurred. “We’ve felt more positivity over the last six months”, she commented.

Modern British sales remained strong. Offer Waterman & Co sold sculptures by Anthony Caro and Peter Lanyon, while Whitford Fine Art sold a large painting by John Golding for £14,000, as well as an Ascher silk screenprint by Alexander Calder for around £10,000. “It’s been consistent with previous years”, said Adrian Mibus from Whitford Fine Art, “but we’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well contemporary work has sold”. Works by pop sculptor Clive Barker and Dutch photographer Ingrid Baars each sold in the region of £10,000.

Many contemporary galleries, including Pertwee, Anderson & Gold, Lemon Street Gallery, Beers.Lambert Contemporary Art, Hoxton Art Gallery and T E N D E R P I X E L ., whose drawing robot featured on ITN and Channel 4 News, found that they grew their client base significantly over the week.

“It was a good experience, good for business” said gallerist James Golding, who sold out of Rabbit with Curlers by Nancy Fouts, a limited edition of ten at £1,800 a piece, one of which will appear at the Esbjerg Art Museum, Denmark in February.

Lydia Cowpertwait from Hoxton Gallery recounted that a visitor who came to fair for the first time in 2011, on a complimentary ticket, returned this year to buy her first artwork for £1,500, a painting by Kate Simms.

First-time exhibitors featured in Art Projects found the exposure particularly beneficial. “The fair sparks interest in young galleries such as ourselves”, said Giovanna Paterno of dalla Rosa Gallery who sold work by Caroline Kha and Aaron McElroy. Romanian gallerist Andrei Jecza was also pleased to sell a number of works by a young artist Michele Bressan.

Meanwhile the Catlin Guide, which highlights the most promising work of recent and current graduates, sold out. “It was a collecting crowd, lots of buyers” said Justin Hammond, Director.

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