The Masterpiece Art Fair 2019, London

On the Balcony, 1893
Eugene von Blaas, Oil on canvas, 23 x 31.5" / 58.4 x 80cm (Private collection, UK)

 

This year’s event ran from 27th June to 3rd July.  Just like last year’s, I thought it was a great show with a new collection of masterpieces on display.  Vetted paintings, sculpture, precious metals like silver and gold, marquetry, jewelry, chinoiserie and furniture from around the world were presented in one grand place for the world to see.  The show was the hub of gallery exhibitors, art collectors, curators, art dealers, art critics, artists, interior designers, and art and design students.  Other visitors, like myself, came to look, admire, appreciate and get inspired by beautiful masterpieces that normally live in private homes or galleries in different countries. Shows like this is a great opportunity to see beautiful privately owned art collections, museum loaned masterpieces.

I will not pretend that I am a good writer; my views and observations here are from my personal experience as I immersed and have had a glimpse in the beautiful but rather complicated world of art as a curious admirer.

 

The Exhibition

At the centre of the spacious hall, the show’s curator staged larger sculptures; carefully chosen and curated.  Although they are large pieces, they do not get in the way.   In fact, there is still plenty of space for people to stop and look at them, go around them to see all the angles.  This hand-made copper garment-like sculpture here is the work of a British artist, Susie MacMurray.  To know more about Susie and her other work there’s more info here.

Medusa, 201-2015
Handmade copper chain mail over fiberglass and steel armature.

 

This masterpiece commands a value of £1,750,000.00 plus 5% import tax! This is one of the quite captivating and magnificent pieces that I’ve seen on the show.  It tells a story in a tensed and suspenseful way.  Sources claim that this is a depiction of a story of Clelia and other women escaping to Rome via the Tiber river from the capture of  Lars Porsena, the Etruscan King. “This rare 16th century panel by Giorgio di Giovanni, with its wealth of naturalistic and topographical detail, also boasts a significant provenance: it was recorded in the 1644 inventory of Cardinal Antonio Barberini, and it hung alongside masterpieces by Caravaggio at the magnificent Palazzo Barberini, designed in stages by Carlo Maderno, Francesco Borromini and Gianlorenzo Bernini.”-@masterpiece

La Fuga di Clelia (The Flight of Cloelia), c.1525-30 
Giorgio Di Giovanni (D.1559), Oil on panel, 74 x 123.5cm (29 x 48in.)

 

This sculpture looks mysterious and with so much calmness and pride.  This is the work of what the Financial Times referred to as ‘Britain’s greatest living stone sculptor’.  According to Bowman Sculpture, the artist’s work is in important public and private collection.  She has been exhibiting in other prestigious art fairs outside England. This piece had a price tag of £260,000.00

Green Lake Head, 2018  
Emily Young, Green onyx, H: 37" (94cm), Bowman Sculpture

 

In previous exhibitions that I have visited, I have come across with few of Joan Miro’s work.  As I probably mentioned in another post, my first encounter with a Miró painting was in Boston, Ma. during a Thanksgiving visit a few years ago.  The moment I saw it on the wall, I immediately asked who’s work was that.  That’s the first time I’ve heard about Joan Miró.  I was amazed by the price of that masterpiece.  It was hinted to be worth a couple of regular houses!  It’s not about the Miró price tag that I love about his work; it’s about the  ‘childlike’ characteristics of the objects that he put together and his choices of bright primary colors, just like in this one here. It awakens the child-like in our consciousness; it almost makes us forget the rather stressful existence of our everyday lives.

Intérieur et Nuit (Interior and Night), 1969 
Joán Miró. Original lithograph in colours overprinted onto textured wallpaper. Miró Lithographs no.522

 

This stainless steel wave-like creation is one of the larger modern and contemporary sculptures that adorned the center aisle of the show.  A rather conventional work of art sculpted by this modern-day artist who has completed his postgraduate study in the Sculpture Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in China in 2009.  This piece is represented by Sundaram Tagore Gallery.

Water in Dripping, Chao, 2016 
Zheng Lu, Stainless steel, 75 × 78 × 88 in, 190.5 × 198.1 × 223.5 cm

 

The most memorable painting for me was this fiery one, which was based on the eruption of the volcanic Mount Vesuvius in Naples, Italy.  This is the same volcano that is famously known for its deadly eruption during A.D. 79 that buried the ancient Roman city of Pompeii.  It is remarkable how the artist worked on the colors of fire and bright smoke of ashes around the opening of the volcano’s mouth and the way he dramatically put the different shades together to immortalize the inferno that Vesuvius thrown out during that one deadliest day in Pompeii.  In the actual painting, it looked so real, alive and powerful that it gives you a chill and a silent sense of fear.  The few minutes I spent standing before this big painting made me feel like I was at the scene with the people in the painting; standing and watching the volcano striking away its anger.  The contrasting quietness of the moonlit night from afar makes the whole scene a place and a moment of melancholy. This is such an enthralling masterpiece.

The Eruption of Vesuvius from the Atrio del Cavallo, c.1771 
Pierre-Jacques Voltaire, French school, Oil on canvas, H: 84cm  W: 167.5cm, Perrin Fine Art, Holland Park, London

Mount Vesuvius today.  
Photo credit: National Geographic, Vesuvius - Asleep for Now an article by Stephen S. Hall

 

A contemporary and skillfully crafted ceramic sculpture by a Mexican artist who grew up in Tijuana, the border city of Mexico just south of California.  Most of her work is inspired and reflected from the objects she saw at the border during her childhood.   She currently lives in Los Angeles.   This is a unique piece that has a hint of surrealism.  To know more about Melina, please check here.

Me Know Howgh, 2018  
Milena Muzquiz, Lacquered ceramic, H62 x L68 x D67cm / H24.4 x L26.8 x D19.3 in.

 

At first glance, I can’t figure out what this composition was all about.  To me, it looked like an elongated fetus beside a reproductive organ or a nautilus shell.   Looking closer, it was still a mystery.   I looked at the tag, and it says what it is.  I retreated farther away from it and stared at it again, and then the title made sense.  From a distance, it looked like a condensed landscape.  I wonder what other people see when they look at this painting for the first time.   I wonder whether people in the art industry saw it as a landscape at first glance, or whether they would know instantly that this painting is worth a million-dollar.  As small as it is, this masterpiece commands a staggering over a million sterling pounds tag price!  It must be a combination of the fact that the painter was highly acclaimed in the Russian Avant-garde for his incredible achievements as an artist and an art theorist in the then USSR plus the originality and the puzzling compositions of his paintings.  And maybe more.

Landscape, Caucasus (Undulating composition), 1915
Alexander Bogomasov, Oil on canvas, 41.9 x 40.6cm, £1,2000,000.00

Some of the famous artists that are no longer with us had their share of life’s sad stories and tragedies as we all have at one point or another.  This beautiful painting here is one of the many masterpieces of an English 19th-century painter who was born in Wimbledon, London.  At the age of 61, he committed suicide, leaving a note saying that “the world is not big enough for [both] myself and Picasso”.  His estranged family, who had disapproved of his becoming an artist, were ashamed of his suicide and burned his papers. Only one photograph of Godward is known to survive. (info from Wikipedia).  This painting is a private collection in the United Kingdom.  Price is upon application.

A Happy Awakening, 1903
John William Godward, Oil on canvas, 12.5" x 26.3" (31.8cm x 66.8cm)
Trinity House, London

 

The post cover photo


On the Balcony
Framed size: 32 x 40 in – 81.3 x 101.6 cm
Provenance: Private collection, Austria; MacConnal-Mason Gallery, London; 
Private collection, UK 
Exhibition:Kunstlerhaus Wien, 1898, no.1314
Artist Biography:Eugene de Blaas was born to Austrian parents. His father, Karl (1815-1894), teacher to him and his brother Julius (b.1845) became Professor at the Academy in Vienna and Venice, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was in Venice that Eugene de Blaas established himself as the leading painter of Venetian genre. The golden Italian climate and the magnificent old stone facades had made Venice an essential stop on the Grand Tour since the early eighteenth century. Past visitors had returned home with views and portraits; the late nineteenth century visitor wanted more. The affluent Venetian visitor wanted human interest, a sense of life by the canals and campos of the city, as a result of which, a school of artists developed to supply this market. Native Italian artists including Antonio Ermolao Paolettii (1834-1912) and Antonio Rotta (1828-1903), Sir Samuel Luke Fildes, RA (1843-1927) and William Logsdail (1859-19444) from England, but above all Eugene de Blaas, depicted the life of fisherfolk, gondoliers and most notably the famed Venetian beauties. These smiling, conversing, flirtatious ladies are often displayed against the pale, impressionistic, stonework of the city walls. One particular beauty, Paola Prina, married de Blaas in 1870 and is often depicted is his works. The titles of his paintings “The Love Letter”, “Stolen Kiss”, “The Suitor”, with his highly polished technique, the depiction of embroidered lace, auburn hair and a coquettish glance, ensured that his paintings were of universal appeal. Between 1875 and 1891 de Blaas exhibited twelve works at the Royal Academy, London. By 1885 he was represented by the art dealer Arthur Tooth & Son in London before moving to his rival T. Maclean from 1886, also in London, an indication of the artist’s enduring popularity in Britain. His works can be found in museums in: Bournemouth; Leicester; Nottingham; Sheffield; Vienna; Melbourne and Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales.-@MacConal-Mason

 

The Venue

The venue is right at the heart of Chelsea, London in a stunning South ground of the Royal Chelsea Hospital building.  The halls and aisles are spacious, it gives visitors enough space not to get bumped and squeezed by other people.   It is close to Saatchi Gallery for more artworks to view if your time allows when you are already in the area.  The River Thames is a stone throw away for a relaxing walk along the paved riverbank on a nice summer day.  DA access is available if needed.  Bags get checked at the entrance for safety of the exhibitors and visitors.  For direction and transport to the venue, here is a very useful guide from Moovitapp

 

Internet Connection/ Food and Refreshment / Dresscode

There is always a very good internet connection on-site.  Choices of food and refreshment were available.   There was a cafe that serves patisserie and cakes, choices of salad, sandwiches, tea, and Italian coffee.  A champagne bar and fine dining were also provided.   The dress code was mostly smart casual for the majority of visitors.  It was one of the hottest days in London on a Saturday when I visited.  Most ladies were wearing smart summer dresses or light-colored cotton trousers and blouses.  Men were wearing khaki and smart shirts, although there were few in shorts and t-shirts.    The exhibitors were in more formal business coordinates; men in shirts and ties whilst the women were sporting light colors work outfits.  Last year there were ladies that were dressed to the nines.  But really, as visitors,  it is up to you what you are comfortable with as long as it is decent.   The standard atmosphere is quite formal but relaxed at the same time.

Overall Experience

The things that I like about the event is that it is always well-organized and they always present excellent collections.  The registration at the show is very quick, the value of the regular entrance fee is fair and it’s worth it.   The staff at the entrance are always polite.  The show was inspiring, entertaining and educational.  I’ll definitely go back next year to see a different collection.

 

 

 

 

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