Fairs
Fairs
Fairs

What to see at Masterpiece: from a four-metre Delaunay to a £1m Venus discovered by nuns

Seven highlights from this year's edition of the London fair

by Ermanno Rivetti  |  26 June 2015
What to see at Masterpiece: from a four-metre Delaunay to a £1m Venus discovered by nuns
Exterior of Masterpiece London 2015 with Adam and Eve by Richard Hudson, represented by Leila Heller Gallery. © Deniz Faragulle
With exhibitors including Theo Fennell, Hemmerle, Maserati and Jaeger-LeCoultre, and food provided by Le Caprice, Scott’s and The Ivy, Masterpiece London, now in its sixth edition, is all about the finer things in life (until 1 July). This includes a broad range of fine art, from antiquities to contemporary, that sit comfortably in the tent, designed and built by Stabilo, the company also responsible for the Tefaf, Maastricht tent. Masterpiece does have a feel of the Dutch fair, but is weighted much more towards the luxury arena and its cross-collectors rather than museums and trade specialists. One of the fair's strengths is its timing, says the Rome-based dealer Alessandra di Castro: “It coincides perfectly with the Impressionist and Modern auctions this week, post-war and contemporary next week, and London Art Week—everybody is here.”

Here are some highlights you should not miss:

A Chelsea Hospital pensioner inspects work at Blain Southern's stand

Blain Southern
(D27)
Jeroen Verhoeven, Lectori Salutem (2010)
£200,000

In line with its previous two presentations at Masterpiece, contemporary art specialists Blain Southern have a single-piece booth with a work by the young Dutch artist and designer Jeroen Verhoeven. “There’s a slightly different demographic [than at a contemporary art fair],” says the gallery's co-founder Graham Southern, “it’s more traditional, but the collectors here still have an interest in contemporary art.”

Venus of Fourvière Hill (first century AD)

Ariadne Galleries (B30)
Venus of Fourvière Hill (first century AD)
£1.1m

The London and New York-based antiquities gallery is presenting the head of Venus found buried in 1882 near Lyon, France, close to the convents of two religious orders, the Carmelite Sisters and the Visitation Sisters. “It’s very rare to know the exact provenance of a piece like this,” says Mark Merrony, the London gallery's director. “It’s a great story: the head of the Roman goddess of love was found by the most chaste orders of nuns.”

Gio Ponti, Table in walnut, lacquered wood and ground glass (around 1950)

Alessandra di Castro and Valerio Turchi (A34)
Gio Ponti, Table in walnut, lacquered wood and ground glass (around 1950)
£120,000
Torso of an athlete, Roman (second century AD)
£600,000

The veteran Roman dealers shared a stand last year, but this time they have mixed ancient and Modern together rather than keeping them separate. “These days it’s all about putting the right pieces together,” Di Castro says.

Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale Venezia d’Argento (1961)

Mazzoleni Art (B37)
Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale Venezia d’Argento (1961)
€4.5m

“The fair is of enormous quality and we’ve seen some dedicated collectors here,” says Luigi Mazzoleni, scion of the Turinese dealers and head of their newly opened London branch. This work by Fontana is part of a series of 22, made between 1961 and 1962, which showed critics and admirers that his work was not just about the cuts that he is now so famous for.

Robert Delaunay, La Ville de Paris, la Femme et la Tour Eiffel (1925)

Dickinson
(D2)
Robert Delaunay, La Ville de Paris, la Femme et la Tour Eiffel (1925)
£3.9m

Visitors can’t miss this oil on canvas at the centre of Dickinson’s booth, where—at around 4.5 meters—it towers above the rest of the works. Delaunay painted it for the 1925 Exposition International des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, where the term “Art Deco” became popular, earning this work the honour of arguably being  one of the first Art Deco paintings ever.

Glass sculptures by Lino Tagliapietra

Mallett
(B6)
Series of glass sculptures by Lino Tagliapietra (2000-present)
around £30,000-£50,000

Widely known and collected in the US and Italy, but relatively unknown in the UK, the Venetian glass sculptor Lino Tagliapietra’s work is always recognisable, especially his bird and dinosaur pieces. He is currently in talks with UK institutions to organise his first exhibition in the country, according to the gallery.

Saint James the Moor Killer (around 1500)

Sam Fogg
(A36)
Saint James the Moor Killer (around 1500)
£120,000

"It’s very rare for a wooden sculpture of this kind to survive intact,” says Matthew Reeves, a director at Sam Fogg gallery, “especially with the original colouring.” This work, which was previously owned by the early 20th-century New York dealer Ercole Canessa, would have been found somewh ere along the pilgrimage route that led worshipers to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain.

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