Christies have two major art auction houses in London, but this visit was to the South Kensington location., to watch Post War British art go under the hammer.
One of the things I love most about London is the ready access to some of the best art you can see anywhere in the world. You might be familiar with the National Gallery or the Tate, but have you ever thought of a visit to an art auction? Here you get to see paintings that are rarely seen, moving out of a private collection and often disappearing into another private collection. You are part of the excitement of seeing works by major artists put on the easel right in front of you, watching the build up as bids are taken 'in the room' online and from 'absentees', of course it is even more exciting if you are ready to bid! But watch it, there is a buyer premium and this can push up the price you pay.
I was with a friend and we had looked up the catalogue online days before, and we did buy a copy of the catalogue as a momento of our visit. You can look the days before to see the work displayed and that in itself can be great fun and very interesting, but nothing quite takes the place of being in the room during the auction. Almost as interesting is watching the bidders, and seeing the breath taking amounts of money they are willing to pay. Who are they? Our neighbour was an art dealer bidding on behalf of a client, the group in front of us were public gallery people bidding for museums in Germany, but who the rest were was hard to say.
It was a long day, and we could have left at any point, but so fascinating was the experience we stayed on and on. Much to my surprise my friend starting putting up his hand when one particular small painting was put on display. I nearly fell off my chair when it was knocked down to him. No wonder we hadn't left earlier.
What a day. What excitement and all it cost us was the price of the catalogue. An unusual day out in London.
If you are more interested in antiques or some other art form, there is sure to be an auction at Christies to interest you. Check out their website to see the vast array of auctions scheduled at any time.