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A tour around January’s art fair highlights

2 January 2017

Now in its 29th year, London Art Fair returns to the Business Design Centre in Islington from 18–22 January. The fair has established itself as one of the most welcoming in the UK’s calendar, and with over 125 galleries it promises the best in modern British and contemporary work. Displays worth searching out include Lynn Chadwick at Osborne Samuel, Paul Feiler and John Hoyland at Alan Wheatley Art, Ivon Hitchens at Austin Desmond Fine Art, and Chris Agnew at Kristin Hjellegjerde. Agnew’s solo presentation is part of Art Projects, the section of the fair dedicated to emerging artists and galleries.

This year the fair is partnering with the Lightbox in Woking, following museum collaborations with the Jerwood Gallery last year, Pallant House Gallery in 2015, and the Hepworth Wakefield in 2014. Drawing on the Ingram Collection of Modern British Art, ‘Ten Years: A Century of Art’, curated by Peter Hall and Jo Baring, celebrates the Lightbox’s 10th anniversary and features works by key 20th-century artists, including Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Barbara Hepworth, and Eric Ravilious.

Forest Shelter (1961), Ivon Hitchens. Courtesy of Austin Desmond Fine Art

Forest Shelter (1961), Ivon Hitchens. Courtesy of Austin Desmond Fine Art

Running alongside the main fair are two curated sections: Art Projects and Photo50. Miguel Amado, senior curator at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, is in charge of the former and stages ‘Dialogues’, a series of five collaborative displays between UK and international galleries. Photo50 is the fair’s platform for contemporary photography and is curated this year by Christiane Monarchi, the founding editor of Photomonitor. A lively programme of talks accompanies proceedings, including a discussion chaired by Apollo’s editor Thomas Marks on the cultural links between the UK and Europe viewed through the lens of British art – timely in the wake of the Brexit vote (21 January; 2.30pm).

Also in London, the fifth edition of the Mayfair Antiques & Fine Art Fair runs from 5–8 January and presents 44 dealers offering everything from silver and ceramics to antique furniture and contemporary painting. There’s also plenty of fine jewellery: newcomer the Gilded Lily offers an 18ct white gold, diamond, and emerald dress ring from the 1960s, while T. Robert reveals a cut-glass scent bottle with a Medusa-head stopper of around 1875. Glass enthusiasts will find plenty at Brian Watson Antique Glass and at Fileman Antiques (look out for the latter’s Regency six-light cut-glass ormolu-mounted chandelier dated to around 1825), while Mary Cooke Antiques and J.H. Bourdon-Smith are returning with exceptional silver. For furniture, head to S&S Timms Antiques to view a Queen Anne walnut corner cupboard (c. 1710) and a pair of Regency rosewood lamp tables, attributed to Gillows (c. 1820). Painting is well represented too at Haynes Fine Art, Cambridge Fine Art and Atelier – alongside works on paper by Whistler and Sickert, Atelier brings Isoult la Desirous and the Forest Maidens (1908) by William Russell Flint.

The London Antique Rug and Textile Art Fair (LARTA), which takes place from the 24–29 January, launched in 2011 as the UK’s only specialist event to focus on fine antique carpets. The fair has since grown, attracting an international clientele, and this year it moves to a larger Battersea Park venue within the Winter Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair. The 20 exhibitors are all experts in woven art from the 18th century to the present day, and bring with them work from all over the world: Chinese silks, kilims from the Middle East, and tribal cloths from Africa. Among the returning exhibitors, James Cohen offers a colourful South Caucasian long rug and Brian MacDonald brings a 19th-century shadda (a woven cover typically used as a horse blanket). Newcomer C. John Rare Carpets presents an early 19th-century Chinese hand-knotted woollen rug, and Liberty Oriental Carpets launches a stunning selection of fine silk rugs, woven in Laos to Liberty designs.

Meanwhile, in New York, the 11th edition of Master Drawings New York – which coincides with the city’s Old Master auctions – returns from 21–28 January. The now well-established event sees 24 exhibitors – including dealers from London, Paris, Florence, and Vienna – stage themed displays in galleries along the Upper East Side, presenting drawings, watercolours and oil sketches from the 14th to the 20th century. Stephen Ongpin presents a huge range of drawings at Dickinson Roundell, including a study of a Breton woman by Gauguin and a 1951 bullfight drawing by Picasso. Other modern masterpieces include a selection of Secessionist drawings that have not been on the market for 37 years at David Tunick, and Degas’s Dancer (Melina Darde) at Jill Newhouse Gallery (part of a wider display of French drawings). Among the Old Master highlights are a number of fine Italian works, including an ink and chalk drawing of a sower by the great 16th-century painter Jacopo Bassano at Christopher Bishop, and a Guercino drawing at Day & Faber. At Didier Aaron, meanwhile, don’t miss Vasari’s Allegory of Eternity, a pen and ink study for the fresco in the refectory of the convent at Monteoliveto, Naples.

(c. 1585), Lavinia Fontana. Robert Simon Fine Art

Portrait of a Lady of the Gonzaga or Sanvitale Family (c. 1585), Lavinia Fontana. Robert Simon Fine Art

 

Also in New York, the Winter Antiques Show celebrates its 63rd year at the Park Avenue Armory from 20–29 January. Among the 70 exhibitors is newcomer Robert Simon Fine Art, whose selection of Italian paintings includes baroque works by Michele Rocca and Jacopo Amigoni, and Portrait of a Lady of the Gonzaga or Sanvitale Family (c. 1585) by Lavinia Fontana – one of the first women artists to create publicly commissioned portraits. Furniture is well covered by H. Blairman & Sons, Thomas Coulborn & Sons, and Ronald Phillips. The latter has a range of wares on offer, including the Glemham Hall Gainsborough Armchairs – an exceptional pair of library armchairs of around 1755 – and a pair of George III demi-lune commodes thought to be by Thomas Chippendale. This year’s loan exhibition pays tribute to the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, the oldest US museum dedicated to American folk art, which celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2017.

From the January issue of Apollo. Preview and subscribe here.

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