London Art Fair reports record attendance figures, and ‘pre-recessionary’ buying atmosphere
The London Art Fair has finally released its roundup of the weekend’s events. And, (excitingly, given that ArtLyst was a media partner this year), they have revealed record attendance figures, with 25,020 visitors to the Islington Business Design Centre, compared to the previous record of 24,389 in 2011. Sunday was the busiest day, with 1,000 up on visitor numbers for the previous year.
Says Director Jonathan Burton: ‘We are delighted to have had so many visitors to our most successful London Art Fair to-date’. What’s more, ‘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.’
Best of all, the leap in visitor quantity was not coupled with diluted engagement. ‘It was a collecting crowd, lots of buyers’ said Justin Hammond, Director of the Catlin Guide to art graduates, which coincidentally sold out at the fair. In fact, visitors were ‘more serious and better informed’ this year, according to Rebecca Hicks of Purdy Hicks, whose artists sold well across the board, including a number of large photographs by Tom Hunter. ‘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. Gallery owner Danielle Arnaud, meanwhile, was pleased by the “wide age range” of attendees.
Despite all the readily-propagated economic doom and gloom, 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. But contemporary work also sold well: ‘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 ., 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.
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.
Follow ArtLyst on Twitter for breaking art news and latest exhibition reviews