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20/21 British Art Fair celebrates its 25th anniversary

— September 2012

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John McHale (b. Glasgow 1922-1978 Houston), ‘Telemath’ collage, 1958.

The 20/21 British Art Fair, the only Fair that specializes exclusively in modern British art, will take place from 12–16 September at the Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London and will be opened by A.N. Wilson at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, 12 September. 

This year is a landmark year as the fair is celebrating its 25th anniversary.  Founded in 1988 as The 20th Century British Art Fair (it became the 20/21 British Art Fair in 2000) at the Cumberland Hotel, it moved to the Royal College of Art, arguably ‘the spiritual home of British art’, in 1991.   At that time modern British art, with the exception of Moore, Bacon, Freud and Nicholson, was much undervalued and needed a flagship.  

Having survived the depths of the recession in the early 1990s, the Fair thrived but few people could have foreseen the meteoric rise of interest in art that has occurred since then.   Attitudes to buying have also changed dramatically; whereas in the late 1980s,  it was more the domain of the elite, with the advent of the ‘young British artist’ (yBa) movement headed by Damien Hirst and his contemporaries,  and the phenomenal success of Tate Modern,  art now appeals to be very broad audience as is borne out by the huge numbers visiting big public gallery shows, dealer exhibitions and art fairs.

The only art fair I make an effort not to miss is the 20/21 British Art Fair.….It is the only gathering of dealers I find really enjoyable and inspiring with a wide range of high-quality Mod Brit on show…     (Andrew Lambirth, The Spectator, September 2011).

This year, the 56 leading dealers, many of whom were at the first fair, will show work by the great names of the 20th century:   Bacon, Freud, Frink, Frost, Hepworth, Hockney, Hodgson, Lanyon, Lowry, Moore, Nash, Piper, Riley, Scott, Spencer and Sutherland.     Alongside will be a large selection of contemporary work by established  names such as Hirst, Emin, and Banksy as well as both emerging artists and recent graduates.

The history of 20th-century British art is represented: Vorticists, Camden Town, Scottish Colourists, Bloomsbury Group, Surrealism to post-war abstraction, Pop art, the artists named above and more recent graduate work.   With paintings, sculpture, prints and works on paper from 1900 to 2012, British art in all its strength and depth, can be enjoyed, under one roof, for five days in September.   

Market news

Interest in modern British sales shows little sign of abating with recent sales attracting good  prices. The price range at the fair is from under £1,000 upwards. 

The Fair is once again proudly sponsored by EFG Private Bank.

Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2EU

12 – 16 September 2012

Wed: 3–9p.m.; Thurs: 11a.m.–8p.m.; Fri/Sat: 11a.m.–7p.m.; Sun: 11a.m.–6p.m.

Admission £9 (concessions £6)

Contact Gay Hutson Tel: +44 (0)20 8742 1611 E: [email protected]






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