This year art is expected to overtake wine as the best-performing luxury asset, spectacularly highlighted by the record-breaking sale of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi for $450m (£333m) in October.
On a more sobering note, artists and curators who favoured 'Remain' contemplated the potential lack of EU funding for future exhibitions and projects, while others hoped that Brexit might present the opportunity for a relaxation – or even a complete repeal – of the ARR Directive (payment of artists resale right).
The market for original prints performed strongly over the year, print-buying appealing to an increasingly wide and diverse audience, and the industry's key event in May, the 31st London Original Print Fair was busy and successful with collectors, dealers, artists and curators in attendance.
Our strongest performing artists this year were the 'four H's': Hodgkin, Hockney, Hepworth and Heron. Sadly, this year saw the death of Howard Hodgkin, aged 84. The wonderful exhibition Painting India at The Hepworth Wakefield explored the enduring influence of India on Hodgkin’s work, and Sotheby's Howard Hodgkin: Portrait of the Artist (sale total £5,184,887) in October realised record-breaking prices for many of his prints along with artefacts from India that inspired those prints. Hodgkin was friends with other artists such as Robyn Denny, Peter Blake, Stephen Buckley, Peter Kinley and Patrick Caulfield – whose works also featured in the sale.
The first exhibition of portraits by Howard Hodgkin Absent Friends was held at the National Portrait Gallery in March.
David Hockney, who turned 80 in July of this year, was given a major Retrospective at the Tate which pushed the already high prices for Hockney prints into a new sphere. The fabulous exhibition drew in almost half a million visitors making it Tate Britian's most popular exhibition to date. Although Hockney was a prolific printmaker and took printmaking very seriously as an art form, it disappointingly contained very few prints.
Some of Hockney’s latest experiments in print have seen the biggest price leaps this year. Two landscape prints made from iPad drawings sold at Phillips in January for £31,250 each. Hockney's scarce 1980s 'home-made' prints, printed in fairly small editions of between 30-50 and run off on Toshiba or Canon copiers, continue to be extremely sought after by our customers, exactly 30 years after the first Home Made Print exhibition in 1987.
If you are on a modest budget, or wondering how to start an art collection, keep an eye out for original David Hockney posters, signed or unsigned, which we think will increase in value in line with his prints and originals.
The prices of Barbara Hepworth prints skyrocketed again in 2017, though perhaps not quite as dramatically as in the preceding 3 or 4 years. Her beautiful, minimal lithographs ensure that she is still a favourite for print-buyers in 2017. The Hepworth Wakefield won the Art Fund Museum of the Year Award in July, their permanent exhibition exploring the work of Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore (both born in the Wakefield district) alongside other modern British masters including Eileen Agar, Jacob Epstein, Patrick Heron, Ben Nicholson, John Piper, Lucie Rie and Graham Sutherland.
We'd name Patrick Heron as our 'flying off the shelves' artist of 2017, and we eagerly await the well-deserved Retrospective at Tate St Ives coming up in May 2018. The artist's beautifully coloured, bold, large and immediately recognisable images are exactly what people want on their walls at the moment. Print prices are increasing rapidly due to the lack of available prints in good condition.
It's a similar story with early Patrick Caulfield prints and we also noticed a huge increase in prices this year for the scarce, large, early works.
Demand for Pop Art prints remained strong in 2017, and there were several important Pop Art exhibitions during the year. Every great Pop artist made prints, taking inspiration from the world around them – billboard advertising, global politics, Hollywood and household objects – while investigating new materials and techniques. Pop Art in Print a touring exhibition organised by the V & A brought together an international collection of graphics featuring Andy Warhol, Patrick Caulfield, Richard Hamilton, Allen Jones, Roy Lichtenstein and Ed Ruscha.
Pop Art toured to the UK from the US in Warhol to Walker: American prints from pop art to today, and coincided with The British Museum’s American Dream exhibition in March investigating the explosion of pop art in the 1960s and including works by the most celebrated American artists from Andy Warhol to Julie Mehretu – all boldly experimented with printmaking.
In Newcastle, The Hatton Gallery's Pioneers of Pop aimed to position the North East as the birthplace of Pop Art, their newly renovated space including a reinterpretation of Kurt Schwitters’ culturally important Merz Barn Wall.
So who are the artists to be watching out for in the coming year? The British Pop artists Joe Tilson, Peter Phillips, Allen Jones and Peter Blake, all who featured in Malborough Fine Art's Two Decades: British Printmaking in the 1960s and 1970s (running until 6 January, 2018) and Scotland's very own 'father of Pop Art' Eduardo Paolozzi, honoured by a fantastic retrospective at the Whitechapel Gallery are artists who produced beautiful, evolutionary, eye-catching and iconic prints and collages which remian 'affordable' (under £1000) – for the moment!