Studio Showcase 2020: Some of the highlights from our studio this year

26 November - 24 December 2020




This year has, it goes without saying, provided an unprecedented test for galleries and collectors alike. As we cast around for evidence of when the 'old normal' will return or what the 'new normal' will look like, we have had to adapt to a new way of presenting, discussing and selling art. While some innovations have been a welcome addition to the way we work (the iPhone video from the artist's studio is here to stay) one of the many frustrations of this year has been the severe curtailing of our exhibition programme in the Gallery and the Print Room, along with the suspension of our weekly Open Studios during lockdown. These closures not only quash regular selling opportunities but they also remove a vital link to the community of collectors that has flourished around the Galleries and Studio over the last decade. Along with the major Art Fairs that we exhibit at (also sadly suspended this year) Private Views, Collectors' Evenings and Open Studios are a forum for news to be disclosed, gossip to be shared, and ideas to be tested. They are a fertile source of market intelligence for ourselves and fellow collectors and in the absence of this, I thought I would share with you some of the trends that have emerged over the last year behind the headline shows that we have been able to showcase online and in the galleries in between lockdowns. While it has been a year unlike any other it has been a very busy one nevertheless.


Away from the contemporary artists that we work with directly, a significant percentage of our sales this year have been in established 20th Century and contemporary Masters. The secondary market in Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Picasso and Miró has performed extremely well this year and we have also seen a significant growth in sales of established contemporaries such as Julian Opie and David Hockney. The graphic work of Howard Hodgkin has also seen a particular surge of interest since the summer. While it is perhaps to be expected to see established 'names' emerge as a secure investment in unsettling times, it is interesting to note that all these artists have either bolstered or improved their ranking within the ArtPrice 500 Index of leading artists over the past year. ArtPrice is the market leader in auction price data and while this can be a blunt tool for assessing the value of an artist when taken in isolation, it does enable us to take the temperature of the wider market and relate it to our own experience. I think it is telling that the market performance of all these artists is driven to a large degree by sales of graphic work. Nine out of every ten Howard Hodgkin works sold at auction is a print while multiples by Hockney and Miró sell in a similar ratio.


A particularly gratifying development this year has been a sustained interest in the graphic work of Barbara Hepworth. Our Hepworth | Moore show in June exceeded all expectations and was an opportunity to reassess the importance of these two towering exponents of British sculpture in the development of the print market in the post-war era. Hepworth's graphic output, while relatively small, is satisfyingly coherent and examples from seminal series such at her Aegean Suite, Twelve Lithographs and Opposing Forms have found a ready audience this year. More recently, we have seen a renewed interest in the work of Howard Hodgkin, with our online autumn showcase returning very strong sales. To my mind, Hodgkin is responsible for some of the most beautiful prints ever made and his offerings in sumptuous hand-colouring and wonderfully textured carborundum helped to redefine what was possible in the medium.


Of course, the commercial popularity of these artists makes them a tempting investment and this will undoubtedly be a driver of their strong market performance over the last twelve months. We are repeatedly asked about the investment potential of the works we sell and while it is always reassuring to see the wider market endorse the artists we choose to promote, the most satisfying point is that these works are all simply beautiful works of art. The most important investment you are making when buying any work of art is in your own pleasure. A canny collector put it well when he told me just recently: "Art is the most important thing I buy. A new suit will live in a wardrobe, a new car in my garage. A good artwork will be on my wall and I will see it countless times a day, every day. It has to be beautiful." If you are able to invest in your own pleasure safe in the knowledge that you are making a shrewd financial investment as well, then you are enjoying the best of both worlds.


Happily, we anticipate being able to open our Studio up again from next week and in advance of that I have put together a selection of pieces that we currently have available to purchase. Our acquisitions have naturally been shaped by opportunities that have come our way this year and we look forward to sharing these with you. We have a particularly good selection of works by Barbara Hepworth and Howard Hodgkin along with some choice examples by David Hockney, Picasso and Henry Moore among others. I hope that you enjoy browsing the viewing room that we have put together below and if you would like any further information or would like to arrange a time to view any of the works you are interested in, please feel free to drop me an email at [email protected] or call me personally on 020 7407 6561  |  07884 433 578.


Vincent Eames, November 2020