Friday, May 24, 2019

Modern & Post-War British Art - Exhibition at Sotheby's

I spent more time today looking at the catalogue for the Modern & Post-War British Art evening auction taking place at Sotheby's in London on 18th - 19th June 2019

It's got a lot of interesting artworks by various artists and I very much recommend you 

  • view the 5 day exhibition (see dates, times and venue address at the end) in advance of the auction
  • take a look at the catalogue if interested in this period of British Art 
    • click the link to Modern & Post-War British Art 
    • either scroll down the page 
    • or click a pic and go straight to the detailed page for that artwork - and click the pic again and get a larger image

The feet of "Beautiful Girl Lying Down" by Euan Uglow (1932-2000)
oil on canvas | 61 by 93.5cm.; 24 by 37in. | Executed in 1958-59
Estimate £300,000 - £500,000

Artists include:
  • Edward Burra
  • Sir Eduardo Paolozzi
  • Euan Uglow - I was transfixed by the very beautiful painting "Beautiful Girl Lying Down" - do read the catalogue note about his work
  • Alison Watt
  • Leon Kossoff
  • LS Lowry
  • Walter Richard Sickert
  • Henry Moore - both sculpture and shelter drawing
  • Ben Nicholson
  • Dame Barbara Hepworth
  • Patrick Heron
  • David Nash
  • Graham Sutherland
  • John Piper
  • Roger Hilton
  • David Bomberg
  • Winifrid Nicholson
  • Augustus John
  • Duncan Grant
  • Vanessa Bell
  • Paul Nash
  • Craigie Aitchison
  • Dame Lucie Rie
  • Dame Elisabeth Frink
  • Sir Peter Blake
  • David Hockney
  • Sean Scully
  • Christopher Le Brun
  • Sir Terry Frost
  • Gillian Ayers
The exhibition dates and times - at Sotheby's at 34-35 New Bond Street London W1A 2AA - are as follows
  • Friday 14 June 9am - 5pm
  • Saturday 15 June 12pm - 5pm
  • Sunday 16 June 1pm - 5pm
  • Monday17 June 9am - 5pm
  • Tuesday18 June 9am - 4pm

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Rare Lowry "Cricket March" painting - on view for 5 days in Salford and London

If you want to view "A Cricket Match" by LS Lowry - you can view this privately owned work, at The Lowry arts centre until 5pm on Monday (27 May) in their free LS Lowry: The Art & The Artist exhibition.

This rare painting - LS Lowry didn't paint many paintings to do with cricket - has gone on display in Salford ahead of its auction next month at Sotheby’s. Which means those of us who live in London can view it at the pre-sale preview exhibition at Sotheby's in June. (see details of times and dates below)

Laurence Stephen Lowry, R.A. 1887-1976
signed and dated 1938 |  oil on canvas  |  46 by 61cm.; 18 by 24in.
So basically if you're 'up north' you have until the end of the Bank Holiday weekend to see this painting.

Here's a very informative video with Claire Stuart, Curator of the Lowry Museum plus the Lady from Sotheby's telling you a bit more about it - if like me you're unable to get to the Lowry Museum.

A Cricket Match is a wonderful example of Lowry at his very best, in what is arguably his best decade as an artist, the 1930s, where he fully establishes the rules and parameters of his unique vision. It seems at first-glance to be a simple ‘slice of life’ and yet the painting is constructed very carefully, in both the way the narrative unfolds and also in how it releases its emotion. As ever, Lowry restricts his palette to a range of colours so narrow that Mondrian would no doubt approve: the dominant white; outlines in black; a dirty green and sooty blue to pin the work to the ground and to give it its sombre timbre. It is this blue-green that also frames the picture, drawing our eye into it, across the dirty standing water and snaggletooth fence posts in the foreground and through to the ramshackle sheds in the middle ground. To this Lowry adds a few dots of red, in a scarf or a hat: another favourite trick to draw the eye in a zig zag through the composition, to ensure the viewer looks everywhere and experiences it as a whole.
It is in the 1930s that Lowry’s masterful use of white really comes to the fore. It has both a painterly function – allowing him to give a clarity to his figures and buildings, which in turn enhances their phenomenological solidity – as well as an emotive quality, as it brings a hard, brittle coldness to his work, whatever the season, that in the viewer’s mind translates into an understanding of the hardship of the world he is painting. It has a conceptual aspect, too, as it is the white that makes this Lowry’s world, something that has its root in a hard reality but also seems to exist in of itself.Sotheby's Auction - Catalogue Note

Exhibition details

The Lowry says it's only been on public display twice before
  • once in 1939 when Lowry chose to include it in an exhibition in London
  • briefly in 1996 at Sotheby’s as part of a pre-auction display when it set the then world record for a Lowry painting of £282,000.
When A Cricket Match last appeared at auction in June 1996, it sold for a then world record price for a painting by Lowry, prompting a plethora of cricket-inspired puns from the newspapers, both national and local to the artist’s home town of Manchester: ‘Lowry scores a record price’, ‘Cricket oil hits artist’s price for six’, ‘Painting a big hit’ etc.  Catalogue note

On display in the exhibition at the Lowry

To be auctioned by Sotheby's 

The work will be auctioned on 18 June by Sotheby’s. It's estimated it could fetch up to £1.2 million.
This exceptional painting is both a ‘classic’ Lowry, depicting the hard life of the industrial cities at the turn of the 20th century, and also quite rare in its depiction of a cricket match, even though cricket has always been very much part of Manchester life.  Simon Hucker, senior specialist for modern and post-war British art at Sotheby’s
The exhibition dates and times are as follows
  • Friday 14 June 9am - 5pm 
  • Saturday 15 June 12pm - 5pm 
  • Sunday 16 June 1pm - 5pm 
  • Monday17 June 9am - 5pm 
  • Tuesday18 June 9am - 4pm 

Mrs Lowry & Son

Timothy Spall as LS Lowry in Mrs Lowry & Son

The display of the painting comes ahead of the release of a feature film this summer about the artist starring Timothy Spall and Vanessa Redgrave. Mrs Lowry & Son depicts the relationship between Lowry (Spall) and his mother Elizabeth (Redgrave) with whom he lived until her death.

The film is directed by Adrian Noble, the former director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and made by production company Genesius Pictures.
Timothy Spall's recent weight loss makes him uncannily like Lowry. Spall was JMW Turner of course in a previous acting incarnation!
"We’re absolutely thrilled to be able to share this work with our visitors. With the release of Mrs Lowry & Son this summer there’s a real buzz at the moment about his story and his journey as an artist and it’s great to have the chance to display a work few people will have seen before.” Claire Stewart, curator of The Lowry Collection

Monday, May 20, 2019

Review: Royal Society of Portrait Painters - Annual Exhibition 2019

Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition 2019 - Threadneedle Space

One of the overarching characteristics of the 2019 Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters  is that ALL works selected for exhibition from the Open Entry are chosen by members of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. There are no administrators, sponsors, gallerists, art critics or other such √©minence grise who get a say on what gets hung.
Unlike other portrait exhibitions, this exhibition is rigorously selected by professional portrait painters who themselves have been elected by their peers to their Society.
I was really looking forward to this exhibition after last year when I raved about the changes - see Review: Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition - Unstuffed!

However I came away feeling somewhat deflated this year - hence the gap before writing this review. I guess it was because I had high hopes it would continue in the same vein as last year - and yet I felt that the "stuffed shirts" had returned and were a little too prominent. It felt a bit like it had backtracked to previous exhibitions about which I've been a tad critical in the past.

Below I discuss some of the themes of the exhibition for me
  • Stuffed Shirts versus Skin
  • The Hang - juxtapositions and themes 
  • Exhibit to Market - why this exhibition is emphatically a marketing exercise re. commissions
  • Paintings I liked - a very small selection of the paintings I liked in the exhibition.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Call for Entries: Royal Society of Marine Artists Annual Exhibition 2019

The Royal Society of Marine Artists has issued the Call for Entries for its Annual Exhibition in October 2019. They want to see submissions of art inspired by the sea and marine environment.

The exhibition has a variety of styles around the topic of the marine environment

Three good reasons to consider an entry if you like painting anything marine-orientated is that:
  • this is an exhibition which ALWAYS attracts a lot of people interested in buying marine artwork. 
  • It also has a LOT of decent prizes (see below for the list and purpose of each)
  • In 2018, the prizes were dominated by wins by the non-members - which is always good to see for those who submit work via the open entry.
The Exhibition of some 400 artworks opens to the public on Thursday 10 October and closes Saturday 19 October, 5pm (Hours 10am to 5pm)

RSMA 2018: Main Gallery

Call for Entries

Below you can find
  • a summary of how to enter the next annual exhibition.
  • a list of prizes
  • an archive of posts about past exhibitions - which contain a lot of images of the type of artwork that gets selected for exhibition.
You can also see two videos of the 2018 Exhibition on my (public) Facebook Page

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

BP Portrait Award - The Thirty Year Vote - which is your favourite?

2019 mark's the 30th year of BP's sponsorship of the annual Portrait Award competition hosted and run by the National Portrait Gallery in London. 

So this year they're doing something a bit different.

On the 30 Year Vote page you can

  • see ALL of the portraits which won the BP Portrait Award between 1990 and 2018. 
  • you're invited to vote on your favourite winning work from the past 30 years
    • the place to vote lies just to the right of the portrait
    • I suggest you look at all 30 portraits - dating back to 1990 - BEFORE you vote - unless you already know which one you will vote for

At the very least it's an opportunity to see how many of the portrait paintings and portrait painters  you can remember!
(To find out more - and see them all one page next to one another - see the BP Portrait Award "Past Winners" page on the microsite - where you can see the image, image title, artist name - and that's it - no media and no size info)

The 30 Year Vote seems to have precipitated some minor campaigns being waged in terms of which portrait - and portrait painter - gets the most votes. Ben Canaan (Israel) was way out in front at the weekend - but I rather suspect some nursing Mummies have pulled Ben Sullivan back to the top of the poll!  He's now the one to beat!

If you'd like to see the painters with their portraits have a look at my 2017 blog post What do paintings by BP Portrait Award winners look like? - because the one thing the Vote page lacks is any sense of size of the painting....

Who I voted for

Winner of the BP Portrait Award 1993
(crop of) Two Figures Lying in a Shallow Stream (1992) by Philip Harris
oil on canvas 72" x 48"

I had absolutely no hesitation when voting - Two Figures Lying in a Shallow Stream by Philip Harris is a monumental painting

  • which just made my jaw drop when I saw it for the first time back in 1993 - and 
  • I've never ever forgotten it. 

I knew what I was going to vote for before I even saw the choice!  It scores on so many levels:

  • major impact - this painting is HUGE. His website says 72" x 48" and the figures are a bit less than life size
  • two figures not just one
  • one clothed and one nude - so skin and textiles
  • hands and feet as well as faces
  • the best background ever - the stones and detritus of a stream bed
  • an implied story as well as a great figurative painting and two excellent portraits
So what will you vote for? Answers on my (public) Facebook Page please....

BP Sponsorship

BP sponsorship is not without controversy - as I fully recognise. I've set out my views and a commentary on BP sponsorship in previous posts - see
The company’s support of the Portrait Award, including initiatives such as the BP Next Generation programme, the BP Young Artist’s Award and the BP Travel Award, has also significantly contributed to the career development of more than 1,400 portrait artists, from aspiring young painters to established professionals.

Monday, May 13, 2019

David Hockney: Drawing from Life (2020) at the National Portrait Gallery

I'm very much looking forward to David Hockney: Drawing from Life - at the National Portrait Gallery in early 2020.

David Hockney Self Portrait, March 14 2012,
iPad drawing printed on paper Exhibition Proof 37 x 28"
© David Hockney

The NPG last week announced that they would be staging the first major exhibition devoted to David Hockney’s drawings in over twenty years.

The exhibition will run 27 February – 28 June 2020.

I remember extremely clearly visiting the last exhibition of his drawings in London. 
'David Hockney - A Drawing Retrospective' at the Royal Academy of Arts (Nov. 1995 - Jan. 1996) - and indeed still have the catalogue prominent in my bookshelves. It had a big impact on me and the regard I have for the use of coloured pencils to make drawings as fine art.

 David Hockney Celia, Carennac, August 1971, 
coloured pencil on paper 17 x 14"
© David Hockney Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt Collection The David Hockney Foundation; D
The exhibition 'David Hockney - A Drawing Retrospective', an exhibition of his drawings that I visited at the Royal Academy of Arts (Nov. 1995 - Jan. 1996), included very many of the pencil drawings of his family, friends and lovers. One of the reasons I like Hockney is because he has such a high regard for drawing apparently derived from his early training in Bradford. I gather he went through a phase of drawing according to the principles of American Abstract Expressionism at the Royal College of Art - drawings which represented feelings - but gave that up as a barren place to be. Anyway, he opened the Summer exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art this year and placed an emphasis on drawing as having fundamental importance in the world of art - as related in the BBC online interview with him "Taking Art back to the basics"

What's the Hockney exhibition at the NPG about?

Hockney is recognised as one of the master draughtsmen of our times and a champion of the medium. NPG
The exhibition will focus on
  • Hockney as a draughtsman from the 1950s to now
  • include 150 works from public and private collections across the world - and his own collection - with five main groups of drawings
  • self portraits over time
  • his depictions of his family and close friends
    • his muse, Celia Birtwell;
    • his mother, Laura Hockney; and
    • his friends - the curator, Gregory Evans and master printer, Maurice Payne.
In doing so, it will seek to trace the trajectory of his drawing practice over a period of five decades. will examine not only how drawing is fundamental to the artist’s distinctive way of observing the world around him, but also how it has often been a testing ground for ideas and modes of expression later played out in his paintings. 

The exhibition will also include some previously unseen work - new portraits of some of the sitters and drawings which have previously never been shared in public!

I'm a big David Hockney fan and can activate a mental video in my head of most of his past exhibitions by just thinking about the title of the exhibition and which gallery it was at. I can even remember which drawing or painting I spent ages staring at! I'm a particular fan of his drawings and even contacted the website to find out how to get a hold of copy of his facsimile sketchbook as seen at the last Hockney Portraits exhibition at the NPG in 2006.
"What an artist is trying to do for people is bring them closer to something, because of course art is about sharing; you wouldn't be an artist unless you wanted to share an experience, a thought"
David Hockney / David Hockney Portraits - from the 2006 NPG exhibition

Hopefully we'll see more facsimile sketchbooks this time round?

Which media will the exhibition include?

David Hockney Mother, Bradford. 19 Feb 1979Sepia ink on paper 14 x 11 inches
© David Hockney Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt Collection The David Hockney Foundation;

It's going to include traditional drawing media and equipment

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Prizewinners at the 128th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters

One of my recurrent themes in recent years has been about how art societies really need to get their acts together and highlight those artists and paintings that win prizes - while the exhibition is current and not past. 

Otherwise it's
  • Neither supporting  the artists;
  • Nor showing courtesy to the sponsors of the prizes - who do like to see some recognition
I'd thought great strides had been made - but apparently not with all societies.....

It's therefore very sad to report that this week the Royal Society of Portrait Painters has completely failed to make any mention of its prizewinners at the 2019 Annual Exhibition - which opened on to the public on Thursday - on

It's a very great pity as these are decent prizes and great paintings - and I'm sure the artists would appreciate a mention. Most of the viewing public - particularly those who buy or commission - are online these days and you can't ignore online!

HOWEVER, The Mall Galleries Blog has posted Introducing the award winners from this year's Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition.

Nevertheless for the sake of completeness I will continue with mine - not least because the link on Facebook to the post kept returning the "This site can’t provide a secure connection - uses an unsupported protocol" message on both Chrome and Safari - before I could get it to show me the post!

In contrast to the Mall galleries blog post, I'm listing the prizes in order of the monetary value of the Prize - and will also add commentary on each one.

The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture (10,000)

The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture is sponsored by Sir Christopher Ondaatje CBE OC and the Ondaatje Foundation, this generous prize of a £10,000 cheque plus the Society’s Gold Medal is awarded for the most distinguished portrait of the year.

The winner of Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture 2019 is Peter Kuhfeld RP NEAC.

It's quite the smallest Ondaatje Prize I've seen in recent years. I'd quite got used to them tending to be rather large.  This by way of contrast is a small and quite subtle painting - very unflashy, but interesting nonetheless.

Winner of the Ondaatje Prize 2019
Executive Chef by Peter Kuhfeld RP NEAC
oil, 38 x 38cm (15 x 15 inches) NFS

Interestingly it's a long time since this artist last won a prize (he won the The Prince of Wales Prize for Portrait Drawing in 2002) - although he won a lot while at the Royal Academy Schools. One gets the impression this is not an artist who pursues prizes.

The artist was born on 4 March 1952 in Cheltenham - the only child of a German prisoner of war and an English classical pianist. He subsequently studied art at Leicester School of Art (1972-76) prior to teaching art at Rugby School of Art (1976-1978) and further postgraduate study at School of Painting, Royal Academy Schools then taught at the Royal Academy Schools in 1981. He was elected to membership of the New English Art Club in 1986 and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in 1992 - from which he resigned in 2005 (according to Wikipedia - although he appears to have returned to the fold at a later date).

Prince Charles has been a patron of his and Kuhfeld painted portraits of Prince William and Prince Harry in 1986. He also commissioned by HRH The Prince of Wales to paint the royal wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. In 2009, he painted a memorable portrait of Harry Patch, who was the oldest man in Europe and the last surviving combat soldier of the First World War from any country.

He has accompanied HRH The Prince and Princess of Wales - as a trip artist - on a number of overseas trips in 1990, 1991, 1993, 2004, and 2010. I'd love to see his sketchbooks!

The de Laszlo Foundation Award (£3,000)

The de Laszlo Foundation award, worth £3,000 and sponsored by the de Laszlo Foundation, aims to encourage young artists. It is awarded, together with a silver medal, to an artist under thirty five years old judged to have submitted the best portrait.

The Winner of The de Laszlo Foundation Award 2019 is Joshua Waterhouse who entered his portrait painting via the open entry.  It's a fascinating painting which is part portrait and part still life - with both being painted extremely well. I loved the Holbein blue background.

The portrait is of Jack Stanger, a retired aeronautical engineer.
Commissioned by the Stanger family, the painting depicts its subject tinkering with a grasshopper escapement clock he made from scratch, surrounded by the paraphernalia of an engineer’s workshop. The unusual silhouette in the background is a nod to the engineer’s involvement in Concorde during his career.
Winner of The de Laszlo Foundation Award 2019
The Engineer by Joshua Waterhouse

oil 75 x 92cm (30 x 36 inches) NFS

Joshua Waterhouse is aged 30, was born in Newcastle in 1989 and currently lives in Camden. He did a Foundation in Art & Design at Edinburgh College of Art, followed by studying Fine Art & French at Aberystwyth University, graduating in 2014 with a First Class Honours. He also spent a year in Paris studying Art History at La Sorbonne.

He is a hyper-realist portrait artist and he likes to paint in oil on wood in a highly meticulous way, producing portraits with a heightened sense of realism, where every surface detail is given equal consideration. He divides his time between working on private commissions and independent projects.

Below is a video of him painting the portrait.

The Engineer from Joshua Waterhouse on Vimeo.

The RP Award (£2,000) - on the theme of 'skin'