On 28th September, prestigious British auction house Sotheby’s celebrate the diversity and creativity of British art, stemming as far back as the 1900s to present day.
Spread across a vast array of varied art styles, Sotheby’s spread the beauty of fine art, prints, sculpture and photography to name just four across their canvas. This assorted pallet will include over 200 stunning pieces of art, created by the brushes of sought after artists such as Grayson Perry, David Hockney, Bridget Riley and Damien Hirst to name just four. This intricate display of British artistry will be exhibited to the public on the 23rd September, utilizing modern muses in Pop Art, photographs from the swingin’ sixties, colourful post-war canvases and Contemporary prints, sure to tantalize the taste buds of the pickiest of art appreciators when available for auction on September 28th.
The Modern Muses category of the Made in Britain auction incorporates a breathtaking plethora of style icons that have served as the inspiration for photographers and artists alike throughout the 20th century. One of these is a series of photographs captured by UK based Chris Levine of British model Kate Moss, a figure often considered the muse of a generation. Moss’ pulsating, meditative energy is caught perfectly by Levine, embodying the endless glow of a cultural icon in his own instantly recognisable signature style. In his approach to photography, Levine seeks to capture the power of stillness, almost monumental in their aesthetic, a style he’s applied to some of the most photographed subjects in the world. In his years of experience, Levine has mastered the art of capturing subjects at rest, ‘as if caught in the calm of a storm.’ Most notably, Levine applied this to his widely celebrated photograph of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II closing her eyes in 2004.
Renowned for creating art dressed in social commentary such as questioning consumer culture and critiquing contemporary society, Banksy’s depiction of Kate Moss, entitled ‘Kate Moss, 2011’ is reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s graphic celebrity portraiture. This piece spoke volumes about how celebrity culture has changed and how public figures can become immortalised through art. Banksy’s piece looks to go for anywhere between £30,000 and £50,000.
In the same year, British sculptor and visual artist Marc Quinn created a 3D bust of Kate Moss in spray painted bronze, entitled ‘Sleeping Beauty.’ When asked what drew Quinn to sculptures over canvas, he replied, “It’s about wanting to make art about our time. If you were an artist in ancient Greece, you’d make a sculpture of Aphrodite. An artist now with the same idea would make one of Kate Moss. The sculpture of Kate Moss is not that of a real person, it’s a cultural hallucination, an image of perfection we live up to.”
Being a cousin of Her Majesty Elizabeth II, Lord Patrick Litchfield, the 5th Earl of Litchfield was closer to the Queen than most, allowing him to capture her image in more personal times. One of these occasions was in 1971, when Patrick was invited to accompany Her Majesty for a section of the Queen’s Far Eastern tour. It was upon this tour that Patrick captured photographs in November 1972 to commemorate her Silver Wedding Anniversary while the Queen was off duty on board The Royal Yacht Britannia, but this was no ordinary photo…
Patrick would explain how he was dunked in the pool during the tour, adding “But I did have the wit to take a waterproof camera with me and when I came up for about the third time, I took a picture of The Queen up on the bridge laughing at me” This rare shot of Her Majesty relaxed and laughing is expected to go for between £800 and £1,200.
One of 2016’s greatest losses, one would struggle to discuss British art in all its forms without mentioning the late David Bowie. The ‘Made in Britain’ sale features a photograph of Bowie taken by Brian Duffy in the form of the iconic shot of the singer, which was used for the cover of 1973 album, ‘Aladdin Sane.’ This image undoubtedly influenced a generation with its quirky, Sci-Fi aesthetic. This is expected to fetch anywhere between £8,000 and £12,000.
The same sale includes a vast array of handpicked images of international beauty icon Marilyn Monroe, ranging from an oil and collage work by Pop Artist Sir Peter Blake, which has been estimated between £18,000 and £25,000, to a number of photographs captured by Sir Cecil Beaton and Eve Arnold. The first woman to be inducted into Magnum, an esteemed photo agency, Arnold would go on to photograph the most celebrated figures of the later years of the 20th century. Monroe would only visit the UK once in her lifetime for a brief four month stint in the summer of 1956, where Arnold was able to capture this image snapped at The Ritz during the filming of The Prince and the Showgirl with Sir Laurence Olivier.
The term, ‘School of London’ was first introduced by artist R.B Kitaj in 1967 as a collective term to describe a handful of artists who worked in the country’s capital. This small group of artists’ work primarily focused on the human figure, depicting the nature of human beauty in the face of opposing avant-garde and abstract movements. The core of the movement consisted of artists Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff, Francis Bacon, Michael Andrews and Lucian Freud. The ‘Made in Britain’ auction includes a number of pieces by Lucian Freud, including ‘Blond Girl’, produced in 1985 and expected to sell for anywhere between £20,000 and £40,000.
The fire of Freud’s fame began in the 1960s when the embers were kindled by fashionable interior decorator, Raymond Jones, who purchased a painting of his partner, George Dyer. Freud found himself fascinated by Jones’ quirky, often ‘mischievous’ character, entranced by flowing locks of pre-Raphaelite hair. As a result, Jones became the subject of a number of Freud’s pieces, including the infamous ‘Naked Man with Rat.’ This earned infamy as Freud’s first male nude, and depicted Jones posing with a rat which had been drugged with sleeping tablets to ensure it remained docile over the 9 months it took for the portrait to be completed. This collaboration earned Jones the somewhat unflattering nickname of ‘Rat Man’, which Freud name the portrait, in parenthesis, ‘Portrait of Raymond’, expected to sell anywhere between £4,000 and £6,000. This piece, created in 1978, was drawn on a diary page. In the same year, Freud produced another portrait of Jones, entitled “Naked Man with his Friend”, and the sale also includes “Mornington Crescent”, a gift from Freud to Jones, expected to sell for between £3,000 and £5,000, painted by Frank Auerbach.
However, it should be recognised that art is not just a man’s game, as Sotheby’s present the ‘Quintessentially British’ category of the Made in Britain auction. One of the most celebrated artists in Britain is Beryl Cook, who spent the majority of her life with her husband in Plymouth, who would be at her happiest when ‘in the evenings, when [they] would visit one or two of a number of small local pubs.’ Her most beloved haunt was The Dolphin, where she would meet a pallet of colourful characters who would inspire her figures included in her paintings.
Oldham born artist Helen Bradley approached the art industry at the experienced age of 65 to show her grandchildren how life had been at the turn of the century. Her delightfully naive and quaint style soon attracted a global following. Her piece, ‘Look, the Queen’s Coming!’, expected to sell for between £40,000 and £60,000 tells the story of the occasion when she ‘very nearly missed seeing our Dear Queen Alexandra driving along Regent Street with Princess Mary, the Duchess of York’, a trip Her Majesty took in 1909, as Helen had been distracted by the shelves of fragrant aromas emanating from bottles of Rose Perfume.
Gary Blunt, known for his naive, almost cartoon style, also finds his work included in the Made in Britain auction, contributing “In The Allotment”, created in 2005, which is expected to sell for between £6,000 and £8,000, with a caption describing the image citing “Don’t Look Round, He’s At It Again, He’s Showing Off His Marrow, If It’s Down On The Ground When I Walk Round, I’ll Squash It With My Barrow.”
Hailing from Wales, Sir Kyffin Williams continues his reign over the British landscape genre, producing some of the most notable pieces over the last century, spending decades catching the Welsh valleys at the perfect angles, at their most beautiful. Kyffin’s contribution to the Made in Britain auction comes in the form of ‘Mount Snowdon from Nantlle’ expected to sell for between £30,000 and £50,000, which captures the sights of Mount Snowdon, dressed in Kyffin’s iconic signature sweeping style.
Heading up the ‘Post War Abstraction’ segment is Patrick Heron, whose work in the 1960s, cemented his reputation as one of Britain’s most esteemed Post-War artists, whose paintings are instantly recognisable for their vivid and rich colours, often standing out against a darker background. “Complex Cerulean in Dark Green Square: March – August 1977” is no different. Expected to sell for anywhere between £50,000 and £70,000, this piece is taken from a revolutionary period, defined by Heron’s confidence of form and eyecatching presence which is made clear in the piece’s aesthetic. During this time, Patrick created a style known as “wobbly hard-edge”, alluding to the ‘hard edged’ abstraction popular amongst artists painting on easels across New York. The colour and scale present in this style makes these pieces truly stunning and undeniably impressive. Accompanying Patrick’s work is a variety of pieces by artists including Peter Lanyon, Roger Hilton, William Scott and Alan Davie, one of which is Parrot Grip No.3, expected to sell for between £25,000 and £30,000.
The Made in Britain campaign is not restricted solely to art on canvas, also incorporating the ceramics industry into its quintessentially British nature, responding to a seemingly endless demand in the market. The ‘Made in Britain’ auction features an exciting selection of fresh-to-market pieces by some of the most respected names in the industry, including Jon Ward, whose brown and blue vase, which its estimated stems back to the mid 1990’s, is expected to sell for anywhere between £800 and £1,200. Other ceramicists whose work is on offer include Jennifer Lee, whose pale slate vessel and ochre, amber and umber branded bowl, are estimated at between £1,000 and £2,000 and £800 and £1,200 respectively. Magdalene Odundo, Gabriel Koch and John Ward are also contributing pieces to the auction.
An unrelenting and unrestrained display of Tutti-Frutti zest and lust for life, Kate Malone, who was a judge on BBC 2’s The Great Pottery Throw Down last year, will be contributing her ‘Daisy’ vase, estimated to sell for between £1,200 and £1,800.
One would struggle to discuss the British art industry without mentioning the coastal town of St. Ives, which has often been cited as an inspiration for artists across generations, an iconic location in the history of 20th century British art.
Ben Nicholson and his wife Winifred travelled to St Ives and, upon stumbling the cottage of mariner Alfred Wallis, found themselves overwhelmed with inspiration by the picturesque seaside town. Ben spent many a day painting rooftops from Trezion, his house, which was located at the top of a steep alley named ‘Salubrious Place’, giving him a perfect view of all the beauty offered by St Ives, while Winifred maintained a more internal approach, painting beautifully arranged fresh flowers in jugs and vases, with a picturesque backdrop of the ocean behind. Ben’s piece, St Ives Rooftops – Vessels and Boats, painted in 1951, is expected to sell between £50,000 and £70,000, while Winifred’s more simplistic ‘Flowers’, painted in 1950, is estimated between £40,000 and £60,000.
Stemming into the realms of design, the ‘Glacier’ bench, taken from the Z Scape Series designed by the late visionary architect Zaha Hadid, designed in 2000, will be available for auction, estimated to sell between £7,000 and £10,000. Hadid was known as ‘Queen of the Curve’, whose work transformed the future of architecture with her expressive and futuristic creations which stretch across the industries of art, architectural design and functionality.
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