THE critically acclaimed Modern British loan exhibition, which has in recent years become the trademark of the Spring Olympia fair in London, has been abandoned and will be replaced by a sleeker, more contemporary show.
Loan exhibitions have been a feature of Spring Olympia for the past 11 years, but since 1999 when the subject was Augustus John, the exhibitions curated by Angus Stewart and Matthew Hall have been the focus of advance publicity for the fair and dominated the event itself.
The exhibitions prompted a reassessment of the work of chosen artists and, in some cases, especially with John, Edward Burra and Keith Vaughan, had an effect on the market.
However, fair director Dan Gorton, feels the Modern British shows are not in sympathy with the increasingly contemporary flavour of the Spring fair, which was this year renamed Fine Art, Design and Antiques.
At next year’s fair from February 28 to March 5, the exhibition will be Icons and Influences, curated by Sir Peter Blake and featuring works which have had an effect on the artist.
There is also a cost factor. Apart from the salaries of a curating and publicity team, Modern British has become more expensive, with commensurate increases in insurance costs. And the expense of physically mounting a major, heavily advertised exhibition became considerable.
Mr Gorton: “In a way the exhibitions are a victim of their own success. Angus Stewart helped bring Modern British back into prominence and now it is time for new things.”