Yesterday I visited the New English Art Club exhibition at the Pall Mall Gallery.
The New English was founded in 1885 by a group of artists working in Paris and has been an important element in English art. In its first exhibition in 1886 George Clausen, Stanhope Forbes, JS Sargent and Wilson Steeer all exhibited. Every member of the Camden group were members and in the twenties Stanley Spencer, Paul Nash, Mark Gertler and Duncan Grant. The New English has been regarded as staging post to the more staid Royal Academy but it is more complementary than complimentary of the venerable institution. Moving to the present day it tends to champion figurative art more strongly.
I liked much of the work on view yesterday and the prices were more affordable. For example there was an atmospheric depiction of the rooftops of Marrakech by Karl Terry for for £650. Nowadays you would do well to pay that for a prize-winning student at the Glasgow School of Art. Ken Howard who had work exhibited seemed a dominant influence. Jane Corsesellis and Mary Jackson ‘s works were in his style. Artists have to make a living like everyone else and I have no problem with them following a genre that sells.
At the art fair at Basel the big boys of modern art were not selling but there was greater interest in more daring modern international abstract work than on view at the Pall Mall. However I am sure the New English will continue to foster artists whose work will appeal at affordable prices as of course the works do not bear the 20% buyer/seller premium of the auction houses nor the commission that the galleries takes.