Colin Gleadell uses the opening of the British Art Fair last week to detail the rapid progress made by the entire field recently:
The salerooms have had a record-breaking year, with Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Bonhams selling more than £90 million in their 20th-century British art sales in the past 12 months – and that doesn’t include the British art sold in the international contemporary art sales. Christie’s sales this year have increased by 257 per cent over last year, overtaking sales for Russian, American and Latin American art, while Sotheby’s, which took £41.4 million for the Evill/Frost collection in the summer, has increased by even more.
Auction prices for many established artists represented at the fair have risen greatly since January 2008, according to the Art Market Research Index. These include two of the stars of the Evill/Frost sale, Edward Burra (up 191 per cent) and William Roberts (115 per cent); the St Ives artists Christopher Wood (74.7 per cent) and Roger Hilton (65 per cent); the neo-Romantics Keith Vaughan (59 per cent) and Graham Sutherland (48 per cent); and the sculptors Henry Moore (120 per cent), Barbara Hepworth (52 per cent), and Jacob Epstein (45 per cent).