Making news late last year when MCH Group acquired majority stake (65.7 per cent) of Masterpiece London, the fair, co-founded by Harry Apter, Simon Philips and Harry van der Hoorn in 2010, returns this summer in its purpose-built structure in the south grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, London. Welcoming 160 exhibitors, the art fair will continue to provide visitors with objects from antiquities and rare books through to furniture and contemporary artworks, shares managing director Lucie Kitchener and Philip Hewat-Jaboor, the fair’s chairman.
Barbara Hepworth. Three Forms (Zennor Carn). 1965. Carved slate on original black-painted wooden base. Height: 19cm, excluding base. Courtesy of Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert.
Maintaining its unique cross-collecting ethos, Hewat-Jaboor remarks that there is careful and considerate balancing of the showcases across artistic genres. “The ethos and mission of Masterpiece remains constant: to present the most extraordinary pieces across all the major market disciplines, and to open the eyes of visitors to new and unique works and experiences,” he says. “Many of our exhibitors are based in London, and we are proud to be the unmissable event at the very height of the summer cultural season in London. Masterpiece is committed to engaging with the art-loving public of London and beyond.” Of particular note, he adds, the fair’s philosophy and remit will be strongly reflected in many of the galleries who have opted to pair art and design in their booths this year, as well as exhibitors who will be juxtaposing works from antiquity with 20th-century artworks.
Elie Nadelman. Female Head (La Mysterieuse). circa 1908. White Marble. 34.29cm. High, base 8.26cm. Courtesy of Collisart, LLC.
While visitors will discover that the physical layout has been adjusted and expanded, they will also be privy to several new galleries. “We are thrilled to be welcoming a number of new exhibitors this year to enhance further the very high standards of the fair,” says Hewat-Jaboor. “These include Hill-Stone, Hammer Galleries; Hauser & Wirth; Jill Newhouse Gallery; Kallos Gallery; Landau Fine Art; Lullo Pampoulides; Vigo Gallery; and jewellers Moussaieff and Cindy Chao.” Hewat-Jaboor also shares a selection of highlights including Ronald Phillips’ presentation of rare furniture by Thomas Chippendale on the occasion of the tercentenary of the famed English cabinetmaker’s birth; Les Enluminures’s examples of illuminated manuscripts and medieval and Renaissance jewellery displayed alongside historic rare maps brought by Daniel Crouch in the rare books field; Van Cleef & Arpels’s “spectacular array of unique contemporary jewellery”; and new exhibitor Landau Fine Art’s display of works by Modern Masters, including select pieces by Picasso.
Bridget Riley. Study for Clepsydra. 1976. Pencil and gouache on paper. 62.6x95cm. Collection of the artist. Courtesy of Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert.
Most dramatically, however, will be the second edition of Masterpiece Presents, a large-scale exhibition space at the entrance of the fair that greets visitors with immersive works of art. This year will feature Marina Abramovic’s Five Stages of Maya Dance. “Representing a change of direction in her work, five carved alabaster self-portraits challenge the viewer’s sense of image, surface and space,” Hewat-Jaboor explains of the haunting physical presence of the work. “The portraits were created by Abramovic at the Factum Arte workshops in Madrid and developed alongside a team of photographers, engineers, software writers and technicians.” The experimental edge Abramovic has adopted in exploring new ways to form her ideas makes her “a true innovator across disciplines—a perfect fit for Masterpiece Presents,” says Hewat-Jaboor.
‘Gherkin’ Ring in yellow gold and lapis by Francesca Grima. 2017. Courtesy of Grima.
Additional programming will include a comprehensive roster of talks, workshops and public programmes, including two new initiatives. The Curator and Art Trade Day on 30 June, co-chaired by Hewat-Jaboor and Thomas Marks, Apollo editor, will call for papers from academics. The second is a Families Day on 1 July and will include special workshops for young audiences, and ‘How to Look At’ talks that offer tools on how to engage with and enjoy a broad array of art across many disciplines. “Masterpiece provides a unique opportunity for our local and international visitors to engage with the whole spectrum of the arts; to be able to look and learn as well as to acquire beautiful works of art presented in an extraordinary and glamorous setting,” says Hewat-Jaboor.
The fair is keeping its integrity intact in showing high-quality historical objects, while showing that it is able to adapt and cater to an evolving contemporary audience.
Masterpiece London 2018 sponsored by Royal Bank of Canada will take place from 28 June – 4 July (preview 27 June) at Royal Hospital Chelsea, London. Masterpiecefair.com