Printing Money

The 25th London Original Print Fair
The Royal Academy of Arts, London. 29th April – 23rd May

I felt sorry for the girl in her twenties leaning against a table, staring into space, in front of a white wall full of bright prints by an artist I’d never heard of, whose work I would never wish to own. She had a chair to sit on but I sensed she had already done a lot of sitting and had stood up to break the boredom with a change of perspective. It was the first day of the show and I hoped that for her sake things might pick up.

Much like the atmosphere in their often-busy book illustrations, the adjacent booth buzzed with Jean and Laurent de Brunoff’s Babar the Elephant fans. Elsewhere, not giving much away – every so often, though there expressions never changed, they mumbled quietly to one another – a well-dressed, elderly couple tottered from one booth to the next of the sixty seven crammed into the Academy’s main galleries. Whether they were more excited by Sean Sculley’s blocky abstracts, the dark Goya aquatints or by Allen Jones’ erotic editions was difficult to say.

Agents – the male ones – almost to the man, sported that Euro-look; dark blazer worn over a sky blue formal shirt, unbuttoned at the neck, with once-washed, dry-cleaned, dark denims, ironed but not creased, and brown slip-on leather shoes, probably from Bally or Gucci. Tanned, too, of course, they had well-coiffed hair – close-cut at the sides and back, quiffy at the front – sometimes with just a hint of blonde streaking. Incessantly talking loudly into their Blackberrys, now in English, then in German or French or perhaps Russian, it was difficult to guess at their origin. Exceptions were the two or three obviously English dandies, one in a cream linen suit and dark green shirt worn with a black tie, whose longish dark hair was swept straight back to reveal a good deal of forehead, whose booth was decorated with a big, square glass vase filled with the most exquisite, orange tulips.

Afraid they might already have missed the Matisse they saw earlier and weren’t sure about whether it would go with the drawing room carpet a rather plain, middle-aged couple darted quickly from one stall to the next. People all around me were actually buying Goyas, Picassos, Hockneys, Bridget Rileys and Kitajs. Arriving with the intention of whizzing around in about twenty minutes, I stayed almost an hour and a half, wandering around making the occasional note in my catalogue; I’m sure I was taken for a dealer. If I could have afforded anything it would have been one of Julian Opie’s 3D Lenticular prints, View of Mount Fuji with daisies from Route 300, 2009.

Did anyone visit the print fair? Please post a comment
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