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Around the sale rooms

Looking at the catalogue of forthcoming auctions of modern British art at Christie’s I was struck how artists can rise and fall in appeal and value.

Johnny Minton in the 50s was regarded the equal of his friend Francis Bacon.

I saw and liked his work exhibited last year at that excellent museum the Pallant Gallery in Chichester.

I like his colourful, vivid representations of the Caribbean. There were several picture of his in the auction with estimates less than £5,000.

I knew Carel Weight RA in the eighties.

He was a lovely old boy and – Alan Tanner would be interested to know – a Fulham fan.

His pictures were edge of reality, typically a landscape with a couple of confused frightened figures in the foreground.

He made a bad career move to a gallery which jacked up his prices. The estimates are lower than in the 80s.

Both Minton and Weight offer interesting affordable pictures with the potential to rise again in value.

One artist who keeps a tight rein on his prices is Ken Howard who is now represented by the successful Portland Gallery.

The Portland owner Tom Hewlett is an old friend and judging by the website there is an enthusiastic take up of works shortly to be exhibited.

A collector of Picasso ceramics informed me that the sale at Chrsties last week achieved  full prices and 100% sales. Those like Luke Johnson who are cynical about the art world should note that these ceramics have risen  in value more than the FTSE 100; that the auctions are regular so the asset is liquid as it’s sale-able; and if you want to retain them you have beautiful decorative items which cannot be easily forged … and Picassos at that.

Finally a word on Civilisations, the first of which was presented by Simon Schama. It began in Palmyra where the curator was beheaded rather than hand over the works to ISIS.

He illustrated the startling similarity of bulls drawn in a cave aeons ago to  those bulls depicted by Picasso all his life. Kenneth Clark was a bit grand and patrician for this naughty rebellious art school student but he did bring the appeal of art to many homes.

Simon Schama has done much the same but it’s early days and we will have to wait and see how the other 2 presenters Mary Baird and David Olusugo fare. It’s very wide and ambitious in scope and there is the risk that the presenter becomes more than an interface and is too vain, opinionated and intrusive front of camera.

About Alice Mansfield

A graduate of the Slade, Alice has painted and written about art all her life. With her children now having now grown up and departed the nest, she recently took up sculpture. More Posts