There will be thousands of objects at the Open Art Fair from an eclectic and inter- disciplinary mix of dealers, to surprise and delight visitors who relish ‘intellectual and decorative shopping’.
This apt phrase comes from a new book (The Man in the Red Coat by Julian Barnes) true story of three French grandees of the Belle Epoque (1880s and 90s), a prince, a baron, and innovative surgeon to the great and good: all three dedicated aesthetes, aware that the West End of London would be the most promising destination for a treasure hunt. . .
The Open Art Fair will be held at Duke of York Square from 18th to 24th March 2020, inclusive, versatile, and fun. www.theopenartfair.com A few steps away, once in a lifetime Tutankhamun exhibition continues until May.
The co-founders of Masterpiece Fair (Thomas Woodham-Smith and Harry van der Hoorn, owner of Stabilo, designers and makers of exhibition stands around the world) have now bought the 27-year old BADA Fair, to replace a traditional trade gathering with a revolutionary new concept. .
They have assembled about 100 exhibitors, to sell an infinite variety of fine art, furniture, vintage binoculars, devices, jewellery, watches, artefacts, carpets, objets d’art. The stands are not expensive, and the exhibitors not limited to grand and costly pieces.
The Fair does not emphasis any one style, but includes highest standards of fine art and craftsmanship, the romantic and the classical, together with the edgy and quirky, big names and lesser lights, high-quality art and design from antiquity to 21st century. They are avoiding the ‘A’ word, ie ‘antiques’.
A keen eye on the zeitgeist from my observations so far. The respected BADA vetting processes are still in place to be consulted when necessary.
Have tried to give you a taste of the variety they will be showing in a selection of images below. The fair is intended to be a happy, entertaining event full of surprises and discoveries, to be found in a light-hearted atmosphere. Food and drink up to the minute: Gimlet cocktail bar and clever all-day menu, at Vardo, a new rotunda restaurant in Duke of York Square.
Director and creator Thomas Woodham-Smith says: Chelsea has always been a cultural and commercial centre, with a maverick aspect driven by its bohemian past, and the small physical scale of most of the shops and cafes. This means that what’s on offer can be more experimental or specialist. We welcome the modern as well as the ancient.’
As a dealer for many years, described by a city reporter as a ’towering force in the antique trade’ Thomas goes on to say; ‘The great challenge for the market, not just the fair, is to make itself relevant for the 2020s. Taste changes all the time, dealers are leaving behind the traditional methods of shop based dealing. The private dealer who works from fairs, catalogues and the internet, is the way things are going. At the Open Art Fair we are geared to being nimble enough to provide an ever changing platform. ‘
Highlights at the Fair include rare Chinese porcelain from Imperial times (Gibson Antiques) to boys’ toys from Hatchwell Antiques and Mark Goodger, including a handcrafted model of a 1908 single cylinder steam motor car, aeronautica, and automobilia, even a Bugatti radiator turned decanter.
For collectors of fine paintings the fair offers romantic English landscape, sailing boats cleaving through heavy waves, luscious summer gardens, handsome thoroughbreds, in noble stables and contemporary racetrack, and recollections of the Mediterranean idyll.
Tickets for The Open Art Fair £20 at the door, and through the website www.theopenartfair.com
Image credit: Chinese Famille Rose Porcelain Vases Qing Dynasty Yongzheng: Period £320,000 - Gibson Antiques