Interview with Jo Baring
Curator of Sculpture Series, Masterpiece London
Tell us a little bit about the history of Sculpture Series, as part of the cross-collecting fair, Masterpiece London.
Masterpiece is such an exciting Fair to visit because of the cross-collecting idea. Guests are introduced to objects and artworks they might otherwise not be able to see. Sculpture has always been an integral part of Masterpiece Fair. It’s well known for the dramatic monumental sculptures outside at the entrance to the Fair. This is the inaugural Sculpture Series at Masterpiece and I’m delighted to be working with Masterpiece to present a variety of sculptures from exhibitors which demonstrate the variety of materials and domestic potential of sculpture.
How do you, as the first external curator to work with Masterpiece London, ensure that the Sculpture Series program stays contemporary and current in the fast-paced world this is the art market?
The artwork comes first – it is important to me to consider the sculpture visually and academically. I think it’s important not to follow trends, and have actually highlighted some artists who perhaps will be new to visitors. I am also interested in showcasing different aspects of an artist’s work – so for example I have included one of our best known contemporary artists, Gary Hume. The fact that he makes sculpture is a surprise to most people.
Is there something in this year’s program that you are particularly looking forward to?
I’m most looking forward to an In Conversation I am hosting with Gary Hume at the Fair on Monday 1 July at 7pm. Gary is one of our most celebrated contemporary artists and rarely speaks in public. We will be talking about the importance of sculpture in his practice, and the talk will be illustrated with never before seen photographs from his studio of new pieces he is working on. Masterpiece has a great talks programme, and I would highly recommend visitors to attend a talk when they visit Masterpiece. There really is something for everyone.
What do the artworks being presented at this year’s Masterpiece Sculpture Series reveal about the current trends and market?
I think there is a general trend to identify artists who have historically been overlooked. So artists who are in all the right institutions, who had excellent critical reception and exhibitions during their lifetime, but perhaps the market has not quite caught up. Robilant + Voena are presenting works by Pietro Consagra, who, whilst extremely well thought of in his native Italy, is less well known here and therefore presents an opportunity to collectors. There are also younger women artists gaining commercial success, such as Susie MacMurray in the Sculpture Series, shown by Pangolin London.
What advice do you have for the collectors that will be attending the fair this year?
Definitely attend a talk! The education aspect of Masterpiece is what sets the fair apart. The talks are free, and either take place in the lecture theatre or – for those with less time – there are shorter, focused talks on exhibitor stands. I would also recommend that visitors take advantage of all the knowledge in one place. Talk to the exhibitors! They are all extremely knowledgeable experts in their fields, so it is a wonderful opportunity to discuss, ask questions and learn.
In addition to the Sculpture Series, what exhibition or event is on your “must-see” list?
I can’t wait to see the Phyllida Barlow presentation by Hauser & Wirth. Phyllida’s show at the Royal Academy has just closed, and it is a very special opportunity to see a work by one of our leading artists. It is a testament to Masterpiece’s position and standing that this work will be shown at the Fair.
Masterpiece London 2019 sponsored by Royal Bank of Canada will take place from 27 June – 3 July (preview 26 June) at Royal Hospital Chelsea, London.