Monday, December 23, 2019

A new Lowry at Christie's Modern British Art Sale

It's a joy when you get to read the catalogue for an art sale which is both informative and interesting. This post is about some of the interesting artworks and interesting back stories to be gleaned from the online catalogues for the upcoming auction of Modern British and Irish Art Sale in January 2020

Christies has a Modern British Art Sale in January 2020 and you can view the e-catalogues online
I particularly enjoyed the catalogue reflections on the effects achieved in the paintings which were like others in modern art - and art from history.

An example being when a 'new' (i.e. previously unseen, unexhibited and uncatalogued) painting by Lowry is compared to a painting of children's games produced by Pieter Brueghel - a connection I'd not made before but which now makes complete sense as to one of the reasons why Lowry paintings are so popular with the general British public who respond to content not being told why they should "appeciate a painting".

A few highlights from the sale - and why I shall go to the view - are that it includes the following. (Note the links I'm providing have images which are nowhere near as good as those included in the catalogue. You need to click the links above and then agree to the conditions before you can access the e-catalogues)

What I've listed reflects my taste or an interest in the back storey.  The catalogues also provide an insight into who collects and they they collect!

Evening Sale

  • The Mill, Pendlebury by LS Lowry - previously owned by Dr Leonard D Hamilton the chap who worked out the techniques for extracting DNA which was then tested by Crick and Watson to reveal the double helix structure for which they won the Nobel prize! How about that for a back story! The painting was acquired from the artist shortly after it was painted and includes the Acme Spinning Company Mill which was the first mill in the country to be lit entirely by electrocitiy. I wonder whether that scientific angle to the painting created a special fascination for the scientist. He was certainly a man who went on to build an impressive art collection.  He used to hang his Lowry painting in his rooms at Balliol College Oxford where he was an undergraduate. 
  • Hero II by William Turnbull - this is the bronze with a green patina and stone sculpture in the David Hockney painting American Collectors (Fred and Marcia Weisman) owned by the American Art Institute of Chicago. For context see this link to the 1960s paintings gallery on Hockney's website - it's the first painting in the gallery. The sculpture comes from the Fred Weisman Collection. It's fascinating to hear the history of the sculpture and its antecedents in the British Museum. It's also interesting to see the texture in the sculpture and to read how it was created given its absence in the painting.
  • The Wiring Party by William Roberts RA - who has drawn a group of soldiers building or repairing the defences in "no man's land' in the First World War in a cubist style. He had been a gunner and he became a war artist in 1918. The catalogue contains an excellent narrative about working as a war artist. The work was first exhibited at the 60th Exhibition of Modern Drawings in Watercolour and Black and White by the New English Art Club in 1919. It reminds me of the sort of drawing I look for in exhibitions today - of people doing contemporary and routine but unusual things - but very rarely see.
New English Art Club, '60th Exhibition of Modern Drawings in Watercolour and Black and White by the New English Art Club', Maddox Street Galleries, summer 1919 (Burying the Dead after Battle 1919, The Wiring Party 1918)

  • Marynka pregnant by RB Kitaj - has an interesting story behind it which involves a visit to the Henri Roche shop in Paris to buy some pastels
  • Square Form by Henry Moore in the auction - reminds me of why photos of your work in your studio can help provide provenance and also data a piece!
  • Red and White Tulips by Samuel John Peploe - I always like to see a Peploe - and always interesting to see how an artist paints white flowers.... If you're using a 27" screen like me and click the catalogue you get an up close view of the brush strokes used - which to me always indicate the difference between somebody who paints and an artist who knows how to paint flowers

Other artists include Dame Elizabeth Frink, Howard Hodskin, Leon Kossoff, David Bomberg, Lynn Chadwick, Mark Gertler,  Allen Jones, Peter Lanyon, Ben Nicholson as well as other sculptors

Day Sale

This includes
  • Postcards written to Felicity Hellaby by Lucian Freud - I just sat and stared! Quite unlike anything I've seen from Freud before.
  • Gregory by David Hockney - one of his line drawings in ink which I adore. Gregory was Hockjney's Assistant and Companion through most of the 1970s. You can see more of Hockney's drawings in the 1970s on his website.
  • Celia, Hollywood, May 1984 by David Hockney - another line drawing in pen and ink. These are other drawings by Hockney in the 1980s (I just love his drawings!)
  • Church at Cassis by SJ Peploe - evocative of Cezanne - but not quite the same
  • Barnet Fair by Walter Richard Sickert - almost a 'history painting' - recording what happened at the time - in 1928-30
  • Maquette for Draped Reclining Woman and Maquette for Reclining Figure by Henry Moore - His website provides a record of the series of full size sculpture series developed from this maquette (and others, I guess). Moore is one of a few modern sculptors who "gets drapery" right. I've visited Hoglands and seen the studio where he made his maquettes and how he used them to upscale to his larger works - see my Flickr set Henry Moore Sculptures, Hoglands, Perry Green
  • Eleven ideas for Sculptures and Figures in Settings by Henry Moore provides great insight into his working process and the importance of his drawings to his 3D works
Other artists include Frank Bowling, Dame Elizabeth Frink, Maggi Hambling, Leon Kossoff, Frabnk Auerbach, Sie Edward Paolozzi, Patrick Caulfield, RB Kitaj, Ben Nicholson, John Piper, Eric Ravilious and lots of minor (and not so minor) artists

Viewing is at Christies in King Street, St. James from Monday 13th January to Tuesday 21 January
  • 13 Jan, 6pm - 8:30pm
  • 14 Jan, 9am - 4:30pm
  • 15 Jan, 9am - 4:30pm
  • 16 Jan, 9am - 4:30pm
  • 17 Jan, 9am - 4:30pm
  • 18 Jan, 12pm - 5pm
  • 19 Jan, 12pm - 5pm
  • 20 Jan, 9am - 4:30pm
  • 21 Jan, 9am - 3pm
  • 22 Jan, 1pm (Lots 101 - 210)

More auctions

There's also what look like they might be interesting auctions in the early New Year
I'm now going to take a look at those e-catalogues!

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