Connecting the Dots at Masterpiece London

In an effort to modernize, some art fairs have retrofitted themselves to mix the genres, periods and media of the material on display — as opposed to the traditional focus solely on, say, antiques or contemporary art.

But Masterpiece London, which presents its 10th edition through July 3 on the South Grounds of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea, was explicitly conceived as a heterogenous presentation.

“We have strongly promoted the concept of cross-collecting,” said Philip Hewat-Jaboor, the chairman of Masterpiece London. “We do it in a way no other fair has done.”

Mr. Hewat-Jaboor, a former Sotheby’s executive and private art adviser, said that in his experience, an eclectic event was the way to reel in clients who might not have experience in buying art objects.

“We want to open this world up to a new group of people,” he said. “We have works from all walks of art historical life, and we put it all together in a glamorous setting.”

Around 156 dealers will gather in what the organizers call a “bespoke marquee” — otherwise known as a fancy tent — making it a medium-size fair in the universe of similar events.

The large majority of galleries are European, giving the event a distinctly Continental flavor. Several dealers specialize in British art, including Christopher Kingzett and Pangolin London, and they are mixed with galleries that include the New York silver specialist S. J. Shrubsole and the international contemporary art powerhouse Hauser & Wirth.

Neil Wenman, Hauser & Wirth’s senior director in London, said in an email that Masterpiece’s eclectic presentation was appealing because “one of our core principles is the importance of connecting the dots — identifying the affinities between generations of artists and mediums, as well as periods of artistic development.”

Artists in the gallery’s booth include Alexander Calder, Eduardo Chillida, Luchita Hurtado, Pablo Picasso and Anna Maria Maiolino.

One element that attracts dealers is the art-rich, cosmopolitan nature of the host city, which other fairs, including Frieze, have capitalized on.

“In London, we are at the fulcrum of the art world,” Mr. Hewat-Jaboor said.

Late June and early July in particular are known as “the season,” with events like London Art Week highlighting the offerings at galleries, and new exhibitions debuting at the Serpentine Pavilion and the Royal Academy of Arts (not to mention major nonart events like Wimbledon).

Masterpiece offers free shuttles among events, which Mr. Hewat-Jaboor cited as one reason it gets solid attendance.

“Visitors make multiple visits, and that distinguishes us from other fairs,” he said.

The fair makes small changes to its layout and design every year (this time it has enlarged the private dining room for V.I.P.s), but it is sticking with one of last year’s innovations, a wider cross aisle that organizers said made the arrangement of booths feel more open.

Ceramics are in the spotlight at several galleries this year, and, given the fair’s cross-collecting philosophy, it’s no surprise that they have far-flung histories.

Errol Manners, of the London gallery E&H Manners, said of ceramics, “The joy of it is that it can take you into any period, any culture, from the most ancient to the cutting edge.”

Mr. Manners, who once worked as a specialist in Chinese art at Christie’s, is showing for the third time at Masterpiece.

He added that unlike paintings or photographs, ceramics had an unparalleled longevity.

“People have this idea that ceramics are fragile,” Mr. Manners said. “But they are what survives the millennia. You can look at pieces from the 17th century and they are unchanged — the enamels are fired for eternity.”

Among his collection is a boldly patterned late 16th-century charger from southern Germany displaying what he called “arresting geometric simplicity.”

“It will astonish people,” Mr. Manners added. “It will speak to people across the centuries.”

He is also showing a circa 1756-60 bust of Francis I, the Holy Roman emperor, that was modeled in soft paste porcelain, likely by Antoine Gilis.

The London dealer Adrian Sassoon will be the ringmaster for a large presentation: 300 contemporary works across a variety of media, including ceramics, as well as about 100 pieces of French porcelain from the 18th century.

“There’s a momentum right now in terms of having a lot of fine porcelain” on display at the fair, Mr. Sassoon said.

Mr. Sassoon will feature the work of the contemporary maker Andrew Wicks, known for creating hand-carved and hand-thrown ceramic vessels and then putting them together in an arrangement known as a garniture.

Another highlighted artist, Kate Malone, gained fame on British TV for her work as a judge on “The Great Pottery Throw Down.” She is represented by her 21-inch-high piece “A Woven Honey Basket” (2019).

“People are very open-minded about ceramics here in the U.K.,” Mr. Sassoon said, adding that Ms. Malone would be at the booth for a few days.

“There’s a lovely immediacy to that,” Mr. Sassoon said. “Especially for someone who also deals in antiques. I can say to people who inquire, ‘Well, why don’t you ask her, she’s standing right here.’”

The makers of the objects in the booth of ArtAncient — among them coins and limestone reliefs — are long gone. But Costas Paraskevaides, the gallery’s founder, said their creations had a vibrancy that made them immediate.

“They are works of art and deserve to be seen as that, not just as cultural relics,” Mr. Paraskevaides said.

One ancient Greek coin on view in the ArtAncient booth shows the god Dionysius drunk, leaning back unsteadily atop a donkey.

Mr. Paraskevaides expressed the most excitement about a silver dekadrachm he is bringing; the coin, valued around $250,000, was minted by the city-state Syracuse around 405 B.C. It depicts a local nymph, Arethusa, seen in noble profile, and two tiny dolphins.

“A coin was the way you’d boast of your city’s greatness, in the age before TV and the internet,” Mr. Paraskevaides said. “They had to tell stories.”

The dekadrachm “feels so heavy in your hand, it’s more like a medal,” Mr. Paraskevaides said, before adding, “it’s a small masterpiece.”

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