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Affordable Modern Masters

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Article by Jonathan Horwich

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Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso, David Hockney, Pierre Auguste Renoir are just a few of the Titans of Modern Art. They all have stellar international reputations, with their finest works being fought over by mega-collectors worldwide and making millions.

This leaves us mere mortals, who might aspire to own a work by any of these greats, without hope; the assumption being that price precludes ownership. Thus, collectors may totally discount the possibility of acquiring anything at more affordable prices.

However, there are buying opportunities out there for all of these artists which may not seem immediately obvious. When faced with astronomical prices for finished major works, collectors should be encouraged to look below the surface for less apparent opportunities…

For example, during Francis Bacon’s early career in the 1930s, he worked as a commercial furniture and rug designer. After the war he emerges as the great painter we know today, and of course his paintings are now out of financial reach to the masses. However, his rugs, although expensive, and his much cheaper surviving pieces of furniture, offer some buying opportunities, (no.’s 1-2). As do his limited-edition prints, each one is signed by him, even all three works in a Triptych, (no.’s 3-5).

Following this theme, I looked for more affordable pieces. Among my favourite finds is no. 7, Lucian Freud’s artist’s palette. It is one he actually used and still has all his signature colours. Equally, Freud’s etchings are accessible and affordable and they are a direct link to his skill as a draughtsman. The process of making an etching involves the artist drawing his subject direct onto the printing plate, and so is only one step away from an original drawing in my mind.

I think David Hockney offers us the greatest number of different buying opportunities, from faxes, to iPad drawings, to office-made, limited-edition ink jet prints and he is still finding new ways to make art, which at 83 is truly remarkable!