Ian Swankie is a Londoner with a passion for art and architecture. He is an official guide at Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Guildhall Art Gallery and St Paul’s Cathedral, and gives regular tours at each venue. Also a qualified and active freelance London guide and a member of both the City of London and Westminster Guide Lecturer Associations. Clients include WEA groups, Transport for London, the National Trust and London Open House. In 2012 he established a weekly independent art lecture group in Richmond and gives talks on a variety of subjects.
In the last few years the combined price paid for the dozen most expensive artworks is about the same as the cost of building three large public hospitals. This lecture is not about the excesses of the top end of the over-heated art market, but an excuse to examine some beautiful and varied art. These works would not achieve such sky-high prices if they were no good. So we’ll see some wonderful paintings including those by Picasso, Cezanne, Rembrandt, Modigliani, Klimt, Bacon and Pollock, all held together by the common thread of their extraordinary commercial value. But we will also look at the buyers and sellers, the back-story of the works, the reasons for changing hands and I will try to answer the question “Are they are really worth hundreds of millions of pounds?”