Francis Bacon is set to be a main draw at Sotheby’s Contemporary art sales in London in early July but he’s not the only British artist who will feature in the sales.
“All of these British artists are gaining increasing international interest and the values of their works are rising,” Mr Barker said. Sotheby’s contemporary sale has works totalling an estimated £204m, 35 per cent of which is accounted for by British artists. In the equivalent sale in 2010, they made up 12 per cent of total value.
Mr Barker said part of the explanation for Bacon’s renewed popularity was that collectors in the past decade had become more willing to have difficult subject matter hanging on their walls. “Figurative art for a long time was unfashionable, and particularly art that was psychologically very challenging. These are powerful images to live with,” he said.
The market has simultaneously undergone a dramatic phase of globalisation. Ten years ago, bidders for works by Bacon came from around three countries on average, Sotheby’s said. Today they come from 18, with strong interest from Russia and China.