Gurr Johns News


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Last night the art market had its first major public test since the lockdown with a major ‘Evening auction’ session at Sotheby’s. This was certainly not a return to business as usual; viewing was by appointment, there were no glitzy receptions, and there was not even a saleroom filled with paddle-wielding bidders: instead, Oliver Barker, Sotheby’s European Chairman, stood on a rostrum in London for over four hours and conducted a livestream auction with staff manning phones in front of him, as well as in salerooms in New York and Hong Kong, and with clients also bidding directly online. It is often said that auctioneering is the second oldest profession; and while last night’s innovative event was a futuristic, slick-looking operation, the fundamentals were very much the same; supply, demand, a sense of occasion – and guarantees.

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In support of the global effort to contain COVID-19, and for the safety and well-being of our staff, collectors, and visitors, Gurr Johns is operating on core business basis. Until further notice, clients are welcome by appointment only. We wish everyone good health and safety, and we look forward to being in touch ahead.


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We’re looking forward to the 4th year of the Art Business course at ESA, the Middle East’s leading business school, which starts on 17th March. Gurr Johns has partnered with the ESA since 2017 offering both post-graduates and professionals the opportunity to gain specialised knowledge and insight into the most important and relevant aspects of the art business, including the role of law and finance in the art world.
The 6-month course culminates in a 4-day trip to London, visiting  important museums, galleries and auction houses, as well as exclusive studio visits with leading contemporary artists.
Applications close on 1 March for this year’s course: more details are available here.

Shown above is the class of 2019 visiting the home of a collector.


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Gurr Johns announces the appointment of Ben Clark as Deputy CEO of Gurr Johns International. Ben will be based in London where he will continue to develop the firm’s global advisory business, with a focus on the company’s growth in Asia.

Ben joins Gurr Johns with 20 years of experience in the art market, the majority spent at Christie’s where he was a trusted advisor and proven deal-maker. Most recently, Ben has been based in Hong Kong as Deputy Chairman of Christie’s Asia, before which he was Managing Director and Global Head of Client Strategy, based in London. His global experience allowed him to cultivate a deep understanding of the international art market and build a track-record in fostering long-term relationships with art collectors and institutions.

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Female artists have often been overlooked in the traditionally male-dominated art world, a trend which has been receiving more and more recognition and coverage in recent years. However there have been some encouraging and interesting trends of late, not least in the art market which can often act as a bell-weather for cultural trends.
According to Shea Goli, Contemporary Art Advisor at Gurr Johns, “Over the last 12 to 18 months in particular there have been real signs of change in the market, both in the middle market and with mid-career artists, and also at the top end where the major evening auctions have included many more female artists. At the top end, Jenny Saville made a record for a living female artst in October at Sotheby’s with a self-portrait which sold for £8.25million, while in New York in May, a Louise Bourgeois spider went for $32million and a Joan Mitchell triptych fetched $21.1million. These are signs of real progress at many levels of the market: although there’s still a very long way to go.”

The market is reacting to a broader shift, which has also seen more major museum shows recently on some fantastic female artists, including retrospectives on Annie Albers, Joan Jonas and Dorothea Tanning, to name a few. And this summer promises even more unmissable shows, including the Natalia Goncharova exhibition at Tate Modern which we covered in our last post. We have picked out a few which caught our eye:

* Not to be missed is the sensational retrospective on Lee Krasner which opened last week at the Barbican in London. ‘Lee Krasner: Living Colour’ celebrates the work of the pioneer Abstract Expressionist, whose significance has often been eclipsed by her marriage to Jackson Pollock.  She once said, “I like a canvas to breathe and be alive.  Be alive is the point.”, and her energetic, bold and striking works are testament to her passion and her spirit for invention. It is an outstanding show which runs until 1st September 2019.

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This summer promises a host of unmissable exhibitions. From Fra Angelico at the Prado and Natalia Goncharova at Tate Modern to French modern masters at the Hermitage and Manga at the British Museum, there is something to suit all tastes. Read on for some of our favourite picks:

Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid
28 May – 15 September
At the Prado, ‘Fra Angelico and the Rise of the Florentine Renaissance’ includes 82 works loaned by more than 40 institutions in Europe and America, and explores the artistic significance of the early Florentine Renaissance. The highlight of the show is Fra Angelico’s ‘The Annunciation’, recently restored and shown alongside ‘The Virgin of the Pomegranate’, a new addition to the Museum’s collection. Known for his rejection of the preceding Gothic style, Fra Angelico embraced the new artistic language of the period and his pious and beautiful works are exhibited with an extensive group of works by his contemporaries including Masaccio, Masolino, Donatello and Ghiberti.

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