Hockney, Hirst and Banksy in Gormley’s most valuable exhibition yet

Signed lithographs, etchings and screenprints in Dublin gallery’s British art sale

Crown Jewels: The Best of British Contemporary Art, opens today, Saturday, February 12th at Gormley's Fine Art gallery on South Frederick in Dublin, featuring the work of Francis Bacon, David Hockney, Banksy and Julian Opie, in what is the most valuable collection hosted by the gallery.

David Hockney’s His Views of Hotel Well II, a lithograph on paper, signed and numbered from an edition of 75 is seeking €114,000. It is a lot of money considering there are 74 others in circulation but then again, Hockney in 2018 achieved a record, when his Portrait of an Artist (Pool with two Figures) sold at Christie’s for $90 million (€78.8 million) making it the most expensive artwork by a living artist sold at auction.

Jeff Koons took the title from him in 2019, when Rabbit achieved more than $91 million (€79.7 million).

One of the key pieces in the exhibition is Francis Bacon's Triptych, an original etching from 1986-1987. It has an asking price of €55,000. "The master of the modern triptych, Bacon used the format to distil and tell a complex story in a bold way," says James Gormley of the gallery.

Love him or loathe him, Banksy, the street artist whose work appears to rise in value the more he insults collectors, is also featured with two works: Stop and Search, a screenprint from 2007, signed and numbered from a run of 500 is listed at €110,000.

“In it, the Wizard of Oz character Dorothy is shown having her wicker basket searched by a uniformed police officer in a satirical take on the controversial stop and search legislation first introduced by the UK government in the 1980s,” explains Gormley. The second piece is Monkey Queen, “a provocative screen print” listed at €40,000, which may give an indication of the anonymous artist’s thoughts on the woman who just celebrated her platinum jubilee, marking 70 years of service as monarch.

Damien Hirst also features with three works, which are etchings from runs of about 50. The artist, who is Britain's wealthiest painter, was slated in the New York Times recently: "With each attempt to monetise his talent, Hirst's originality as a conceptual sculptor becomes an ever more distant memory."

Hirst, who admits openly that his assistants create many of his works has fallen from grace in the art auction market, where sales for 2021 generated $24 million, down from $268 million in 2008. Irishman Frank Dunphy, who died in 2020 aged 82, has been credited as the business brain behind the artist, having conceived two auction sales, where works were sold directly to collectors via an auction house, hence cutting out the 50:50 split of sales that artists normally share with a gallery.

Hirst’s three etchings include two of his signature Butterfly works: Big Love (€72,000) and Altar (€31,000).

Grayson Perry, Harland Miller, Ian Davenport and Patrick Hughes also featured and the exhibition runs until March 5th. gormleys.ie