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A focus on quality keeps sales on track at London Art Fair 2015
London Art Fair 2014 James Champion.

LONDON.- London Art Fair 2015 closed on Sunday with brisk trade reported across the Fair in both Modern British and contemporary art, including painting, sculpture, photography and works on paper. The Fair’s strategy to target a more focussed buying audience across all levels of collecting paid off, delivering an engaged audience of 23,789 throughout the week.

‘It’s been tremendous’ said Mark Goodman, of Goodman Fine Art, who exhibited for the first time in 2014, ‘I’ll certainly be back next year’. Goodman sold his centrepiece Alan Davie as a result of an enquiry on set up day fetching around 180,000 for ‘Anamorphic Figures 1’, 1958, before the Fair had even opened. He also sold works by Ben Nicholson and Peter King.

‘We made sales every day, ranging up to 45,000,’ says Stephen Paisnel from Paisnel Gallery. ‘Over 90% of the works we sold went to new clients, including lots of sculpture and works by William Gear.’ Around the corner, James Hyman Gallery returned to the Fair for the first time since 2012. ‘We’re glad to be back,’ said Hyman, ‘We sold well across the board – photography and painting including Jon Tonks, Keith Vaughan, Walter Sickert, Alan Davie.’

Contemporary galleries also fared well, with Merville Galleries selling ‘Medusa’, a significant new work by Susie MacMurray, for around 60,000. VIGO reported sales of works by Biggs & Collins from 14,000 to 24,000, as well as Oliver Marsden at around 17,000, while John Stark, another popular artist at the Fair, sold well at CHARLIE SMITH LONDON.

With 14% of exhibitors now coming from overseas, work by international artists proved increasingly popular. CAIS / Skipwiths reported ‘sales across the board’ for their Korean artists including So Young Choi and Chun Kwang Young, while Belgium’s Rainhart Gallery sold drawings by emerging Brazilian artist Kilian Glasner. African artist Aboudia did well for Jack Bell Gallery and Galerie Olivier Waltman, Paris also reported a good Fair.

Hamburg Kennedy Photographs from New York and fellow US photobook publisher 21st Editions both reported strong sales, due in part to Wednesday’s Photography Focus Day which saw a visit from the Tate Photography Acquisitions committee and a series of discussions and tours led by PhotoVoice, Photomonitor and Sotheby’s Institute of Art. ‘It’s been very busy’, said Sophie Hall at Flowers Gallery, which was exhibiting work by Simon Roberts, Nadav Kander and Edward Burtynsky alongside contemporary paintings and installations, ‘we’ve met lots of people and had interest in all of our work.’

Hosted in a pavilion at the front of the Fair, this year’s museum partner was Pallant House Gallery from Chichester, West Sussex. They presented an exhibition on ‘The Figure in Modern British Art’, curated by Artistic Director Simon Martin, who said, ‘As a regional gallery the Fair gave us a platform in London to demonstrate the strength and breadth of our permanent collection of Modern British art. We reconnected with past visitors as well as introduced the gallery to totally new audiences, both London-based and international, giving us the chance to promote our upcoming exhibition season.’

Sharing the pavilion were Jonathan Clark Fine Art, PIANO NOBILE and Rowntree Clark. ‘It’s been very good being next to Pallant House Gallery’, said Matthew Travers of PIANO NOBILE. ‘There’s a lot of crossover between our clients and their audience. Duncan Grant and John Golding have both had a lot of interest.’ Simon Martin agreed: ‘It was a great opportunity to meet many dedicated collectors of Modern British art,’ he said, ‘existing relationships with dealers were strengthened, including securing a significant loan via PIANO NOBILE for our summer 2015 Sickert exhibition, and we were able to make new contacts that may well result in future collaborations.’

‘There’s a good calibre of visitors at this Fair,’ said Oliver Sears from Dublin, ‘and we’ve connected with clients that we haven't seen for a long time, including London-based Irish collectors’. Sally Townsend from The Multiple Store, who sold at least one of each of its 28 artist editions, agreed: ‘There’s always a good quality of visitor at this Fair, very informed’.

A VIP programme included special offsite events for collectors at the Embassy of Brazil in London and the Connaught, as well as exclusive curator-led tours of the Fair itself, with a complimentary car service provided by Infiniti. Collectors and curators attending included Yorkshire-based collector Ronnie Duncan; Stuart Evans, founder of the Lodeveans Collection; Simon Baker, curator of photography and international art at Tate; Richard DeMarco, founder of the Edinburgh Festival; Martin Barnes, senior curator of photographs at the V&A; Francois Delage, chief executive officer of De Beers Diamond Jewellers Ltd and art collector and philanthropist Valeria Napoleone.

In Art Projects, there was a lot of interest in Jeremy Hutchison’s ‘Demand and Supply’ placards at Division of Labour, following his win of the inaugural Art Projects Artist Award furnished by the Fair’s education sponsor Sotheby’s Institute of Art. South Kiosk was a highlight for many, with a 5m lightbox by Joachim Setzick and works by The Catlin Guide artist Dominic Hawgood. ‘We’re a new gallery and it’s our first UK Fair, but we’ve met really good quality people,’ said curator Dave Charlesworth. James Pidcock from grey area said of Dialogues, ‘The Fair was an excellent success from a commercial point of view, but more importantly from an artistic standpoint. We met a lot of people and we developed a great relationship with our Dialogues partner Space In Between.’ Next door, John Marchant reported sales for all of his artists, including Fabrice Cazenave who penned an original drawing onto the wall of the stand at the start of the week.

London Art Fair returns to the Business Design Centre from 20-24 January 2016 (VIP Preview 19 January 2016).

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