Buy, buy, love
Whatever your taste, these upcoming selling shows will have something to tempt you
WITH the exception of the new TEFAF Spring fair in New York and the London Original Print Fair, both of which I shall look at next week, the art-market calendar seems a little less crowded at the moment than is often the case, which allows me to flag up one or two particularly interesting selling shows.
Already open and running to May 6 at Erskine, Hall & Coe in Royal Arcade, Old Bond Street, W1 (www.erskinehallcoe.com), is an exhibition of works in ceramic, bronze, paper, glass and perspex by 12 Modern and contemporary artists: Gordon Baldwin, Anthony Benjamin, Joanna Constantinidis, Hans Coper, Bernard Dejonghe, Ruth Duckworth, Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, Ewen Henderson, Jennifer Lee, Machiko Ogawa, Lucie Rie (Fig 4) and James Tower.
It includes two unusual, early figurative works by Gordon Baldwin, one ceramic and one bronze (Fig 1), both made in about 1960. Other highlights include a perspex and chrome-plated steel sculpture by Anthony Benjamin, dating from 1970 and complementing his works on paper.
A ceramic monumental form by Hans Coper accompanies bowls and vases by Lucie Rie and an exquisite wall panel by Ruth Duckworth, which has come directly from her estate, is on display. An early vessel by Jennifer Lee accompanies her most recent flat wall work and there is a massive bronze sculpture by James Tower.
Two years ago, the private dealer Oliver Hoare offered a wonderful show ‘Every Object Tells a Story’ (COUNTRY LIFE, June 10, 2015), which attracted more than 10,000 visitors to an impressive house in Fitzroy Square. From May 4 to July 5, he will be at 5, Cromwell Place, London, SW7, with about 400 strange, wonderful and beautiful objects and more stories to go with them. They span five millennia and represent countless civilisations, each selected on the basis of their back stories and historical interest.
There will be a 13th-century silver drinking vessel (Fig 5) bearing the seal of Möngke Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, who ruled the Mongol Empire at its peak; a silver skull pomander believed to have been owned by
James II (Fig 2); a rare group of votive figures from ancient Bactria; a 2,000-year-old Mexican stargazer; and sections dedicated to magic, myths, meteorites, sex and unicorns.
This time, the space is the studio of Sir John Lavery RA from 1899 until his death in 1941, during which time celebrated sitters included George V, Winston Churchill and Oscar Wilde.
Sam Fogg of 15D, Clifford Street, London, W1 (www.samfogg.com), may be a ‘leading dealer in the highly specialised field of medieval art’, as his publicity puts it, but he has an enviable ability to change emphasis within it, finding new aspects and ensuring that his exhibitions never seem repetitive. His major new show, ‘Maiolica before Raphael’ (May 8 to June 16), is the first of its kind anywhere for a century, bringing together an important group of late-medieval and early-renaissance Italian ceramics made between about 1275 and 1500 (Fig
3 and 6).
Later Renaissance istoriato, or narrative, maiolica, produced in the orbit of Raphael and other Italian artists, is widely known and has been extensively studied. But not for 100 years has the same level of attention been focused on the magnificent works that preceded it in the 14th and 15th centuries, which were prized more highly than precious metals by contemporary patrons.
‘Maiolica before Raphael’ focuses the spotlight of contem- porary scholarship onto this earlier development of Italian
maiolica, particularly the key period in the Quattrocento—the age of Donatello, Mantegna and Botticelli. During this formative period, its characteristic tin-based glaze, with its pure- and brilliantwhite surface, engendered some of the most rapid and exciting innovations in all ceramic art.
Potters began to decorate the surfaces of their earthenware vessels (of increasingly varied shapes and forms) with squirming, meticulous designs of unparalleled ingenuity and expression. They incorporated decorative motifs influenced by and derived from sources including contemporary textiles, metalwork, and lustreware from Islamic Spain.
The biannual Fresh Air outdoor sculpture show (www. freshairsculpture.com) in the lovely riverside gardens of The Old Rectory, Quenington, Gloucestershire, and is now 25 years old. It has evolved from traditional beginnings into a very diverse display of contemporary sculptural and generally creative talent.
It runs from June 11 to July 2, with 88 very varied artists, of whom more than 30 will be firsttimers. Prices will range from £50 up to £50,000. Here, by way of an advance notice, are Derek Ellicott’s Chair of Unknowing and
Owl into Prey by Susie Wilson. Because it seems to sit well with these shows, I include one recent auction, Sotheby’s sale of ceramics by Pablo Picasso. I am not an unstinting admirer of his pottery, because he did not always fit his decoration to the form, but when he did, the results are splendid. Picasso began to work at the Madoura pottery in Vallauris in 1947 and, by 1955, he had produced more than 9,000 pieces. The owners, Suzanne and Georges Ramié, deserve to be credited more often for teaching him the craft.
The top two lots here, Gros
oiseau visage noir (Fig 8) and Taureau (Fig 7), showed him at his very best. The first, which sold for £125,000, was charmingly witty; the second, at £100,000, used the form of the pitcher to perfection. All but one of the 86 lots found a buyer.
Next week All’s fair in New York and London
Fig 6: Inkstand with figures of the Virtues, about 1480–90
Fig 3: Small Florentine storage jar of about 1420–40
Fig 2: Silver skull pomander possibly owned by James II
Fig 1: Turning Figure, of about 1960, by Gordon Baldwin Fig 4 top: Lucie Rie’s Bowl. Fig 5 above: Silver Mongol drinking vessel
Two clever ceramic creations of Picasso: Taureau (Fig 7, left) sold for £100,000 and Gros oiseau visage noir (Fig 8, right) sold for £125,000