The new incumbents at No. 10 and 11 Downing Street have made a pledge for a “bold plan to grow the economy”. So, Anthony J. Lester, via the ‘Enquirer’, reminds them that the UK’s art market generates around £9 billion a year in sales and is responsible for in excess of 40,000 jobs. The Government could do much more in support of this important industry, including reducing the import VAT rate for works of art to zero.
In Berlin on 8th December, 1922, Lucia, the wife of Jewish architect, Ernst Freud, gave birth to their second son, Lucian Freud. To flee the rise in Nazism, the family moved to England in 1933 and Lucian went on to become one of the primary painters of the 20th-century. To mark the 100th anniversary of his birth, London is mounting a number of public and commercial exhibitions, with the most impressive taking place until 22nd January at The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN. Although Lucian is best-known for his paintings of nudes, he was also a prolific painter of plants and this is the focus at the Garden Museum, Lambeth Palace Road, SE1 7LB, with Lucian Freud: Plant Portraits, which closes on 5th March.
It is often forgotten that Lucian was the grandson of the celebrated neurologist, Sigmund Freud and until 29th January the Freud Museum, 20 Maresfield Gardens, NW3 5SX (home of Sigmund), stage Lucian Freud: The Painter and His Family. Featuring paintings, drawings, family photographs, books and letters, the display embraces lesser-known aspects of the artist’s life, including his lifelong fascination with horses. Freud’s interest in horses began in his early childhood when he would go riding in the countryside outside Berlin. The dealership, Ordovas, 25 Savile Row, W1S 2ER, have been innovative in focussing on this aspect of the artist’s ingenuity. Running until 16th December, the loan exhibition’s highlight is a painting of Sioux, a mare at the Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre.
I have always been captivated by artist’s studios, the most striking being Francis Bacon’s (1909-1992) chaotic workplace at 7 Reece Mews, South Kensington. He worked there from 1961 until his death and said “Chaos, for me, breeds images”. In the mid-1940s Bacon met Lucian Freud and they became close friends, often drinking and arguing at The Colony Room Club at 41 Dean Street, Soho. Until 16th December, Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert, 38 Bury Street, St. James’s, SW1Y 6BB, mount Lucian Freud: Interior Life, which features twenty etchings by Freud (priced from £20,000 upwards), together with a display of candid photographs taken by David Dawson (b. 1960), who worked with Freud for twenty-years. Taken at 138 Kensington Church Street, the artist’s home and studio, Dawson says of the photographs: “I was trying to capture the stillness and serenity of the house, the sense of calm, and record the paintings and sculpture that Lucian lived with”. Taken in 2011, each photograph is available in a limited edition of 16 (starting price £2,000) with 4 Artist’s Proofs.
An impressive collection of over fifty exceptionally fine Freud etchings are on display until 4th November at Lyndsey Ingram, 20 Bourdon Street, W1K 3PJ. This remarkable group comprises every B.A.T. (or Bon à Tirer – good to pull) impression pulled by Marc Balakjian, Freud’s printer for almost 30 years. Primarily portraits, sitters include Lord Goodman and the artist’s model, Sue Tilley, with prices from £10,000 to around £100,000.
Like Freud, Frank Auerbach (b. 1931) was born in Berlin, came to England to escape Nazi persecution (both his parents were killed in the Auschwitz concentration camp) and became a distinguished painter and a close friend of Freud. In June, Sotheby’s sold Auerbach’s thickly painted oil Head of Gerda Boehm for £3.4millian. Until 16th December Piano Nobile, 96/129 Portland Road, W11 4LW mount Frank Auerbach : The Sitters, an exhibition dedicated to the artist’s portrait heads created between 1956 and 2020. Prices range from tens of thousands to seven figures. Also, on display are photographs by Nicola Bensley of the artist in his Mornington Crescent studio, Camden Town.
On the subject of artist’s studios, one of the most exciting that I have had the privilege of visiting is the creative hub of the DnA Factory. This inspiring art partnership is the home of Dallas and Angel (both b. 1967), who met in the late 1980s at Goldsmiths College. They have been based in their railway-arch studio in Herne Hill, South London for three-decades where they create the most innovative, uncompromising, thought-provoking sculptures and collages – there is so much ‘wow’ factor on view here! Throughout October, November and December the extremely convivial pair will be opening their doors for a series of exclusive weekend viewings. For full details visit www.thednafactory.com and use the contact form or watch for updates on their Instagram @thednafactorymrss.
Ending its run on 23rd December, Private Parts!? at Belmacz, 45 Davies Street, W1K 4LX, should perhaps, carry an X-rated warning because it features some erotic drawings by Duncan Grant (1885-1978). Produced during the 1940s and 50s, when sex between men was still illegal in England, these animated studies depict males in acts of lovemaking. Due to their ‘raunchy’ subject matter it was widely assumed the works had been destroyed but the collection came to light in 2020. In collaboration with the Charleston Trust, who now own the collection, Belmacz displayed a small selection of the 422 works, together with works by the Austrian artists’, Jakob Lena Knebl (b. 1970) and Ashley Hans Scheirl (b. 1956).
It is always exciting to have the opportunity to view the work of an emerging artist, so I recommend a visit to the JD Malat Gallery, 30 Davies Street, Mayfair, W1K 4NB. On display until 7th November are fifteen new paintings by Zimbabwean-born Tega Tafadzwa (b. 1985), which reflect the journeys of people who experienced the difficulties of enforced migration. Entitled Rwendo – Which Means Journey, Tafadzwa’s compositions are poignant, colourful and thought-provoking.
Anthony J. Lester, FRSA
Studio, 21st July, 2011, photograph by David Dawson. © David Dawson, courtesy of Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert