Art market

Modern British art fair returns to London

Henry Moore's Seated Mother and Child: Four Studies (1980) will be with Osborne Samuel at the 20/21 British Art Fair Osborne Samuel

When London’s 20/21 British Art Fair was cancelled last year after the sudden loss of its venue, the Royal College of Art, many thought it would never be revived. Although a minnow in the world of international fairs, it is alone in focusing on Modern British art since its inception 28 years ago and has a loyal following among galleries and collectors. Due to exhibitor demand, owner-organisers Gay Hutson and Angela Wynn are relaunching it in the Mall Galleries in St James’s from 13–17 September.

There are 34 exhibitors (down from 56), maximum capacity for the venue, with a narrower focus on Modern and post-war British art, including the dealer Robert Upstone, formerly a director of the Fine Art Society and curator at the Tate, and London galleries such as Osborne Samuel and Richard Green.

A handful of big contemporary galleries have started investigating 20th century names, namely Gagosian's show of Michael Andrews in London and Hauser & Wirth Somerset's Elisabeth Frink exhibition earlier this year. But still, aside from a few notable exceptions such as Henry Moore, Lucian Freud, Barbara Hepworth and Francis Bacon, many 20th century British artists remain under the international market's radar. "We do not expect exhibitors to bring high-end, £10m examples," Hutson says, "Our emphasis is on quality but also an element of affordability."

While Hutson believes that some areas of Modern British art remain undervalued, the market is less prone to price shocks than the contemporary field, “so while it satisfies modern tastes, especially with post-war abstraction, it can also be a safer place to put your money." Hutson notes a recent increased demand for Neo-Romantics, such as Keith Vaughan and John Minton, the latter currently the subject of a solo show at Pallant House in West Sussex (until 1 October).

• 20/21 British Art Fair, Mall Galleries, St James’s, 13-17 September

Appeared in The Art Newspaper, 293 September 2017