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Paint it black: 14 artists to profit from

With private clients increasingly allured by the solidity of art, in comparison to equities and bonds which may prove vulnerable to the vagaries of macro-economic headlines, we shine the spotlight on 14 artists who could be worth backing in 2013.

Matthew Draper

Since moving to Scotland in 1997, Staffordshire-born Draper has seen his work exhibited in numerous galleries throughout the UK and US, including the Royal Academy of Arts and the Open Eye Gallery in Edinburgh.

The Bank of Scotland and Kelvingrove Museum and Gallery in Glasgow also hold collections of his drawings, as do many private collections in Australia and North America. Draper, who principally identifies himself as a draughtsman, is influenced by the dramatic imagery of eighteenth and nineteenth century painting. His work focuses on vivid landscapes, inspired by the ‘luminism’ of the great German Romantics.

Next January he will be exhibiting at the Mall Galleries in London alongside the Dutch masters from the collection of Dulwich picture gallery.

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Vilhelm Hammershøi

Following its heyday in the eighties, Scandinavian artists are starting to enjoy somewhat of a resurgence, with art specialists highlighting Vilhelm Hammershøi as a top pick.

Danish painter Hammershøi was born in Copenhagen and remained there for most of his life. His work includes both landscapes and portraits, while he has become best known for his paintings of interiors which frequently contain a single figure often with their back turned. Hammershøi is seen as a bit of an enigma with his poetic, simplistic artistic style being relatively difficult to place, perhaps explaining why he has remained so popular. At an auction at Sotheby’s earlier this year, a portrait of his wife entitled ‘Ida Reading a Letter’ sold at a record price for any Danish work of art.

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John Hoyland

The energetic painter and printmaker John Hoyland began his training at the tender age of eleven in his hometown of Sheffield before graduating from the Royal Academy in London, where his finals show was stripped off the walls by the then president. However, it was not long before he was one of the major players in London’s sixties art scene, which had become one of the most exciting art capitals in the world.

A trip to New York in the late 1960s, where he came into contact with the artists Helen Frankenthaler and Kenneth Noland, had a significant influence on his work, which was characterised by simple shapes and high-key colour. In 1991 he was elected to the Royal Academy and his art is held in major public collections by the National Portrait Gallery and Tate Galleries. He died in 2011, aged 76.

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Willem Van de Velde - the younger

Jonathan Horwich, global director of picture sales at Bonhams, believes that value opportunities among Old Masters is starting to emerge, and highlights Dutch artists, such as Willem Van de Velde the younger and elder as potential picks in this space. Born in 1633, van de Velde moved to England in 1673 to help his father to make draughts of sea fights. He was engaged by Charles II and later patronized by the Duke of York and by various members of the nobility.

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Willem Van de Velde – the elder

Dutch artists the van de Veldes (father and son) laid the foundations for marine painting in England in the 18th and 19th centuries. Van de Velde the elder was famous for his accurate monochrome representations of ships on panel (pictured), while his son later shaped the development of seascape painting in England in the 18th century.

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Xu Zhen

Born in 1977, the young Shanghai-based artist Xu Zhen has rapidly grown to become one of the leading figures in China’s booming art scene. Largely influenced by globalisation and consumerism, he has become best known for his witty and provocative installations that aim to challenge socio-political taboos. His work crosses over various disciplines, ranging from photography and video to performance and painting. He has seen his work exhibited internationally, including presentations at The Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Venice Biennale.

Xu Zhen represents a potential pick for investors seeking access to the Chinese contemporary market.

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Thomas Gainsborough

One of the great masters of the eighteenth century and a royal favourite, in 1780 Gainsborough was commissioned to paint portraits of George III and Queen Charlotte. His tutor, the renowned French painter Jean-Antoine Watteau, remained an influence throughout his life and Gainsborough was strongly associated with fellow English artists William Hogarth and Francis Hayman.

His work can be found amongst some of the most prestigious collections in the world, including those at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and the National Gallery of Art in London. Jonathan Horwich, global director of picture sales at Bonhams, picks out Gainsborough as an artist worth backing in 2013.

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Song Dong

Heather Maizels of Victoria Private Investment Office, suggests contemporary Chinese Art is one way to invest in the wealth and growth created by China - and an alternative to accessing the volatile equity market.

While short term buyers have boosted the Chinese art market, indices which measure confidence in the Chinese contemporary market have dipped, causing prices of new works to soften and secondary markets to fall. This could create potential buying opportunities and Maizels recommends veering away from obvious choices like Al Weiwei in favour of less well known but nonetheless established names like Song Dong.

This Chinese contemporary artist is active in sculpture, installations, performance, photography and video and has been involved in many solo and group exhibitions around the world.

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Rashid Rana

Rashid Rana, one the top selling artists of Pakistan, is so far the only contemporary artist to have a solo show at the Guimet Museum in Paris and was recently commissioned to do a piece of work for the new Louis Vuitton showroom in Paris.

Jonathan Horwich, global director of picture sales at Bonhams, highlights Pakistani contemporary art as an area to monitor for next year with pieces ranging from £10,000 to £20,000, while Rashid Rana represents a top pick in this space.

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Kevin Francis Gray

London-based Irish artist Kevin Francis Gray is perhaps better known for his ‘Face-Off’ sculptures constructed out of cast resin and glass crystals that aim to merge classical forms with a gritty, urban aesthetic. Such work has become increasingly celebrated, most recently inspiring the character of the Queen in the Tim Burton blockbuster ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’. Since completing his studies at various international institutions, Gray has witnessed the solo exhibiting of his work at galleries including Goff+Rosenthal in Berlin and Haunch of Venison in New York.

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Henry Moore

Jonathan Horwich of Bonhams and Heather Maizels, managing director of Victoria Private Investment office, both highlight Henry Moore as an artist and sculptor who could be worth investing in next year on the back of valuation opportunities.

‘There are opportunities there as you can go out tomorrow and buy Henry Moore, who is interesting and collectable, at under £10,000 or you can spend £10 million for an artist whose range is so wide,’ Horwich said.

Maizels added: ‘Here you are buying an established name with a wide international following and where there are also prints available which can support a growing collection or be entry pieces for new collectors.'

Born in 1898, Moore is best known for his semi-abstract monumental bronze sculptures. He was a driving force behind the introduction of a form of modernism in the UK, won the International Sculpture Prize at the Venice Biennale in 1948 and famously turned down a knighthood in 1951.

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Elisabeth Frink

Dame Elisabeth Frink, who died in 1990, is internationally recognised as a major twentieth century British sculptor. Using the forms of men, animals and birds, she always retained her interest in figurative work, while continuously exploring the possibilities of her chosen medium – plaster cast in bronze. During her lifetime she was awarded public commissions and her work has been widely exhibited and purchased for public and private collections, including those at the Tate and Chatsworth House.

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El Anatsui

Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui trained at the College of Art, University of Science and Technology, in Kumasi, in central Ghana. He began teaching at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in 1975 and now as an established artist has had his work exhibited all over the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Hayward Gallery and the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona.

Jonathan Horwich, global director of picture sales at Bonhams, highlights El Anatsui as a contemporary African artist that could be worth backing next year. El Anatsui has sold pieces for up to £500,000 over the past 12 months.

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Urban art represents a growing area of interest for art collectors, with the works of Banksy, a London-based graffiti artist, becoming increasingly sought after.

The artist is famous for using a distinctively stencilled street art technique to challenge the political views promoted by mainstream media. Although he has preferred to remain unidentified, his work has become considerably prolific worldwide, as well as garnering a cult following amongst the younger generation. As part of its Urban Art Sale earlier this year, Bonhams sold eighteen of Banksy’s works for a total of £405,425. The auction included the artwork ‘Girl and Balloon’, which fetched almost five times more than its pre-sale estimate.

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