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Bargains at London Art Fair? Exclusive chat with the director 12 January, 2010

Posted by Annie Deakin in Annie's blog.
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Image credit: Lord Foster by Isabel Rock

Can savvy buyers pick up bargains at this week’s London Art Fair (13-17 January 2010)? I met the fair’s director Jonathan Burton to find out how galleries are responding to the financial glut – and if we can sniff out deals at the fair.

‘Two years ago, the market was crazy,’ recalls Burton. ‘People rushed into art fairs and the first two hours were frantic with people buying work at a frightening pace. But it’s been a tough year for galleries. There is a general agreement that prices across the international contemporary art market have fallen by 30-40% in the past year.’

Image credit: Unreachable by Thomas Allen

The good news for bargain hunters at the London Art Fair is that prices start at £20 (but ahem… they do soar up to £1million). Print Now space is flogging limited edition prints by hot shot names (think ICA, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Saatchi Gallery bookshop) around the £250 mark. Burton’s hot tip? Look out for an edition by Turner Prize nominated artists Mark Titchner at 176. ‘We’re all the same; it’s reassuring to buy something by someone well known,’ laughs Burton.

But, how about whopping discounts on major pieces at the show? The bad news is that dealers won’t be dropping prices willy nilly. ‘Twelve months ago, I would have said yes definitely, there would be big discounts. London Art Fair 2009 took place in the middle of the economic firestorm.’ says Burton. The past twelve months has shown some kind of price correction meaning galleries are less desperate to slash prices.

The early bird catches the worm so hotfoot to the Business Design Centre tomorrow to get the best deals…
(Boring but essential info: Tickets cost £12 in advance; £15 on the door)

Image credit: Untitled by Richard Allen




1. candidabalfour - 12 January, 2010

Although prices might have been lower last year, I am a huge fan of the Art Fair. I think it is so important that art is available to everyone, whatever their price bracket. Too many London art dealers cater for high end customers and ignore students and others who have an interest but can’t afford to keep up. I am very excited to see what is on offer!

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