What do we need? A new fair! When do we want it? Now! Actually, no thanks, it’s the last thing, especially at the moment, after the slew of fairs, auctions, biennials and a documenta (enough in itself, from what I read anyway). Masterpiece London Art Antiques Design 2012 (the 3rd to date) is rather soothing on the eye (and belly) though the name is a misnomer, even with a $93,000,000.00 Caravaggio, 1571-1610 (Saint Augustine) on view. Weighing down such an historic painting of interest is a slightly less expensive but insipid Hirst sculptural thing-y covered in gold, which would be better served by a pigeon.
As one of the sponsors/participants is a restaurant company, there are more restaurants and menu choices than fine art works. But any fair that exhibits classic Jags and Ferraris alongside British Mod, Picasso and vintage Marc Newson is not a bad thing, no matter how you look. Artists you don’t see enough of like Graham Sutherland, L.S. Lowry drawings and paintings of landscapes and people not of the typical matchstick variety, Kossoffs, Auerbachs, Caufield and Rileys; all in all, just a quirky juxtaposition outside the small ball of intertwined worms that form the typical art world axis.
Back to food, I’d call this event a palate cleanser after a 19-course meal of exhibits et al. over the preceding season, a year when much of the fare tasted the same, the identical group of international artists you see over and over ad infinitum on the looping conveyer belt of contemporary art galleries, fairs, and museums. It’s about time for a coffee and cig brake and a long one. Call Masterpiece the poor cousin of Maastricht, though there are plenty of pricey things (lot’s of jewelry): certainly no fortunes will be made here nor are there any great discoveries, but it’s a rather nice, refreshing and tasty little meal in itself. Fair squared: the quality is fair, but the admission policy is too (a positive thing in this instance). And like any first-rate fête, a good bit of fun.