London Art Scene

Private views, interviews, exhibitions and the London auction circuit.

M16 Assault Rifles for Sale to Promote One Day of Peace

Lion in the Sand by Peter Doig

Lion in the Sand by Peter Doig, Oil on M-16, 2014

“Sold out'” said the sign at the ticket office when I eventually made it to Frieze this year. Frieze Art Fair is the most important UK international art fair of the year. It takes place every October in Regent’s Park where the art world glitterati gather over copious glasses of champagne and talk each other into buying outrageously expensive works of art.

In conjunction with the fair there are a million and one other events staged throughout London. Galleries host private views, collectors host parties, people championing causes host silent art auctions and Christie’s and Sotheby’s contemporary art sales keep the art market buoyant with dazzling prices and juicy gossip.

It Don't Mean A Thing If It 'Aint Got That Pin by Harland Miller

It Don’t Mean A Thing If It ‘Aint Got That Pin by Harland Miller, Engraved decommissioned Colt M16 Assault Rifle

I was looking forward to it. What could be more entertaining than an afternoon of glamour, bubbly, crazy contemporary art and crazy contemporary people? If I hadn’t been so lazy about buying a ticket beforehand I wouldn’t have missed it but then again, I wouldn’t have gone to the most thought provoking exhibition of the entire week.

It was 4.30 pm. With no chance of getting into Frieze I hopped on the Bakerloo line to Charing Cross and legged it across Trafalgar Square where, tucked away in the relatively calm surroundings of the ICA was the exhibition “M16“. I had about about an hour before it closed.

Curated by Jake Chapman “M16” was organised to raise awareness of Peace One Day, a non-profit organisation founded by actor turned film maker Jeremy Gilley who basically created the first internationally recognised day of cease fire and non violence. His is an incredibly inspiring story.

Bad Gold by Yinka Shonibare

Bad Gold by Yinka Shonibare, Gold paint and batik fabric on decommissioned Colt M16 Assault Rifle, 2014

During a period of soul searching in the summer of 1998 Gilley realised that an official day of world peace didn’t exist (there was one actually – every 3rd Tuesday of September – but nobody knew about it and those who did know ignored it) so he decided to create one himself and make a film about his endeavour. A tad idealistic you may think, but three years later, on the 7th September 2001, at the United Nations General Assembly Kofi Annan announced the 21st September as the fixed date for Peace Day: the official day of cease fire and non violence. By the 21st September 2012 over 470 million people in 198 different countries were aware of Peace Day. The aim is to reach 3 billion by 2016.

Gilley’s film The Day After Peace documents his story from the initial idea to Peace Day being honoured by life saving initiatives taking place on the 21st September annually across the globe. For example, on the 21st September 2007 a cease fire in southern and eastern Afghanistan allowed 10,000 vaccinators to enter these usually inaccessible areas without being harmed or taken hostage and vaccinate 1.4 million children against polio. More recently the Howard G. Buffett Foundation has teamed up with Gilley to establish a peace campaign including humanitarian aid in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Great Lakes region of Africa. From a madcap idea to millions of lives being saved and millions more seeing the benefits of literally just one day of peace per year. The entire documentary can be viewed on youtube or by clicking here. It’s the most uplifting documentary I’ve ever seen.

Embroidered Gun by Kim Jones

Embroidered Gun by Louis Vuitton designer Kim Jones, decommissioned Colt M16 assault rifle, fabric, metallic ribbon and metallic string, 2014

For “M16” fifteen famous artists were asked to transform decommissioned (which means they’ve been used) M16 assault rifles into works of art. Artists include Peter Doig (his painting The Heart of the Sun sold for £4,562,500 at Christies’ art sale two days earlier), Mark Quinn (“Thaw of the Kokolik River” sold for £122,500 in the same sale) and Sam Taylor-Johnson who, rather than recrafting a rifle, framed an article from the Ham and High newspaper about how her house in Primrose Hill was raided by armed police having been alerted by passers-by who had seen, through her studio window, the rifle on the table. There’s also a rifle signed by Kate Moss.

In the background: The Eye of History by Marc Quinn, Mixed Media and paper collage on pigment print, 2014. In the foreground: Saint Just - DE - DR. -MEESE - PARSIFAL - HOT - HUMPTY - ZARDOZ - EGG - DUMPTY - BEN - IF - LOLITA - GUN DE LARGE IN ERZLAND (GUN DE NONNINEI) by Jonathan Meese, Acrylic, acrylic modelling past and mixed media on decommissioned Colt M16 Assault Rifle. 2014

In the background: The Eye of History by Marc Quinn, Mixed Media and paper collage on pigment print, 2014. In the foreground: Saint Just – DE – DR. -MEESE – PARSIFAL – HOT – HUMPTY – ZARDOZ – EGG – DUMPTY – BEN – IF – LOLITA – GUN DE LARGE IN ERZLAND (GUN DE NONNINEI) by Jonathan Meese, Acrylic, acrylic modelling paste and mixed media on decommissioned Colt M16 Assault Rifle. 2014

“M16” is the sister project to “AKA Peace” an exhibition also curated by Chapman for the same cause in 2012 but using AK-47s. As he explains in this video ‘the AK-47 is emblematic of a more illegitimate side of violence, the fundamentalist or terroristic side because it’s associated with more, I suppose, revolutionary or radicalised armies like non-nation state armies,’ while the M16 symbolises violence ‘funded by states and countries which are somehow seen as legitimate. The M16 is the predominant American weapon which, we wanted to make some kind of gesture towards the idea of thinking that M16s represent perhaps the idea of exporting democracy from the West via the super power of America and its associate allies with Britain, so that we were trying to somehow equalise the implication that it’s not only the illegitimacy of the AK-47, it’s the legitimacy of the M16 which also causes violence.’

BBW by Douglas Gordon

BBW by Douglas Gordon, Decommissioned Colt M16 Assault Rifle and taxidermy wolf

The ‘AKA Peace’ rifles made nearly £500,000 at auction in 2012. I believe the M16s will be auctioned at Bonhams on the 28th January 2015. I hope the auction goes well although pulling off the same(ish) good thing twice rarely reaps the same rewards which is a pity in this instance.

M16 by Jake and Dinos Chapman

M16 by Jake and Dinos Chapman, Fibreglass, bayonet and decommissioned Colt M16 Assault Rifle on plinth

All the Fun of the Fair at The Affordable Art Fair, Battersea

Living the Dream by Rosa Nussbaum

Living the Dream by Rosa Nussbaum, Steal, perspex, MDF, paint, fluorescent lighting £4,980 part of the Recent Graduate’s Exhibition.

“If it’s going to make you happy for the next 20 years”, I overheard someone say as I wandered around the Affordable Art Fair Battersea yesterday. I can imagine what the other person was thinking, “will I, won’t I, will I, won’t I?” After all, art isn’t a necessity like paying your electricity bill and you can actually find some fairly OK canvases/posters that come in pretty cheap. Then again, buying a work of art that a) makes you feel something, b) reflects and reaffirms to you something about yourself and c) makes you feel proud to show it off to others, is a completely different experience compared with simply filling a wall space and once you make your first heart felt purchase, you’ll never go back to conveyer belt art again – it’s just as simple as that, no matter how small or big your budget is.

I know, “budget” is the operative word and collecting art is often viewed as an expensive luxury but it honestly doesn’t have to be. As I always say, ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way,’ and the Affordable Art Fair: Contemporary Art from £100 – £5,000 is definitely one way.

Comprised of over 100 gallery stands, it’s geared towards art lovers who don’t have an oligarch’s budget but who do have a strong appreciation for contemporary art and who genuinely enjoy the overall experience of purchasing it and living with it.

Of course making your first purchase can be daunting (it gets easier…) but my advice to the woman I overheard would be: if you have the budget and get the feeling – go for it.

Here’s a few of my top picks:  “Living the Dream” by Rosa Nussbaum, from the Recent Graduate’s Exhibition (see above). A call back to comic strip life with the reminder that we’re all living in our own dreams.

Be Careful what you wish for by Ann Kelson

Be Careful what you wish for by Ann Kelson; Bone, wood, wire; £125 part of the Recent Graduates’ Exhibition.

How long has it been since I’ve thought about making something with wishbones? In fact I did once – I painted a few with red nail varnish but didn’t take it any further than that so I was amused to see these by Ann Kelson, also part of the Recent Graduates’ Exhibition. Entitled “Be Careful What You Wish For” a broken wish bone is shown in the process of mending with the message underneath: Mend: To make usable again (something torn or worn); to repair (something broken or damaged); to heal or cure (a broken bone, a sad feeling). You can read her inspiration behind them here. In a way I wish I hadn’t read the background story, it’s much more serious than I would like it to be, but that’s life – be careful what you wish for. There’s single ones framed like the one above and also three in a frame and five in a frame. They’re all sure to go.

Chief Red Jacket by Gavin Mitchell at Northcote Gallery

Chief Red Jacket by Gavin Mitchell at Northcote Gallery; Print on museum etched paper, 98 x 80 cm £750 framed

Sorry about the awful photo, it’s the best I could do but I just love this “Chief Red Jacket’ by Gavin Mitchell at Northcote Gallery, stand H11. Andy Warhol did a series of native American indians too and I love them as well. I find it comforting to be in the presence of Chief, a person who acknowledges and reveres the greater mysteries of life. It balances out the realisation that anything can happen to anyone at anytime which is quite a daunting realisation.

Cinnamon Lumberjacks by Christopher Boffoli

Cinnamon Lumberjacks by Christopher Boffoli, edition of 30 + 2 AP, Perspex, dibond, mounted prints, 61 x 92 cm, £1,800

The sizes of men and food are swapped so that a skier skies down a 99 ice-cream and men become the size of cinnamon sticks in Christopher Boffoli‘s series. Both times I passed the Bicha Gallery, stand I11, I noticed people stopping and commenting on these works especially the “Cinnamon Lumberjacks”.

Mist by Christiaan Lieverse

Mist by Christiaan Lieverse, 140 x 120 cm, mixed media on canvas £2450

There’s some damn fine portrait artists at the moment, one of my favourites is Lita Cabellut – absolutely amazing. “Mist” by Christiaan Lieverse stood out for me at Villa del Arte Galleries, stand I14.

In a Flap by Charlotte Farmer

In a Flap by Charlotte Farmer, limited edition screen print, £460 framed.

If you’ve got a kid’s room you want to brighten up this is the artist to go for without a doubt. Other prints include ‘The Call of the Wild” and “Bananas”. Visit the Smithson gallery at stand J6.

Blue Corridor by Daan Oude Elferink

Blue Corridor by Daan Oude Elferink, Photography edition of 8, 80 x 120 cm, £4,000

As the Art Detective says, ‘A great work of art will always tell you it’s a great work of art,’ and there’s no doubt about it, “Blue Corridor” by Daan Oude Elferink is a great work of photography. There were already 7 red stickers stuck to the wall beside it, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the entire edition of 8 has already been sold. You can check him out at Ronen Art Gallery, stand D1.

Toffs Love Dogs by Magda Archer

Toffs Love Dogs by Magda Archer, Archival Inkjet with 1 Colour screenprint Overlay with Diamond Dust and Glitter Embesllishment, Edition of 60, Framed £500

Two of my favourite stands (both were at the Moniker Art Fair as well) were Jealous at stand J4 where you can find “Toffs Love Dogs” by Magda Archer and TAG Fine Arts at stand H10 where you will find David Spillers “In Your Smile (Mutley)” and “We’re After The Same Rainbow’s End (Sylvester).” I’ve put “Mutley”on my bucket list.

In Your Smile (Mutley) by David Spiller

In Your Smile (Mutley) by David Spiller, Silkscreen print on Somerset satin 100% 400 gsm paper, edition of 75, Image size 76 x 76 cm, paper size 88 x 88 cm, framed £1,150

Frieze Week, Day 4: Moniker and The Other Art Fair – Brilliant


Charming Baker: Lie Down I Think I Love You, published to coincide with the artist's exhibition at LA's Milk Studio in March 2013

Charming Baker: Lie Down I Think I Love You, published to coincide with the artist’s exhibition at LA’s Milk Studio in March 2013

It was a first for me. I’d arranged to meet AM at The Old Truman Brewery at 5.00 PM. I’d a ticket for the private view of the Moniker Art Fair and he had tiks for the private view of The Other Art Fair. Two completely different art fairs in the same place at the same time. I was confused.

Chained to the Mirror by Miss Bugs

Chained to the Mirror by Miss Bugs, made from surgical blades. Signed limited edition of 3 unique colourways, £14,000 at ink_d & Lawrence Alkin Gallery,

Inside we were told that the staircase on the left led to the Other Art Fair while the staircase on the right led to the Moniker Fair but that both ticket could be used for either fair.

In Your Smile (Mutley) by David Spiller

In Your Smile (Mutley) by David Spiller, Silkscreen print on Somerset satin 100% 400 gsm paper, edition of 75, Image size 76 x 76 cm, paper size 88 x 88 cm, framed £1,150

Once upstairs though, the atmosphere was so good I completely lost interest in the logistics and anyway all became clear, or at least clearer, as we wandered around. As AM noticed, the Moniker Art Fair is comprised of galleries while The Other Art Fair is a show case of individual artists.

Hang-up Gallery presents Junkyard Games featuring Mark Powell.

Hang-up Gallery presents Junkyard Games featuring Mark Powell.

First things first: the bar and a glass of vino and a moment to decompress after the trials and tribulations of another day in London. I”m always awed at how this city and everyone in it keep going, keep doing, keep sane – well at least to a workable level. Where do we all come from? Where are we all going? Everyone moving through their own realities – that’s more than 8.5 million realities.

Almost Shore by Rina Bakis

Almost Shore by Rina Bakis, oil on canvas, 80 x 60, £1100

Later while I was sprouting on about how brilliant the fairs were over cocktails at the Waldorf Hilton with friends, one of them noticed the book I’d picked up at the Jealous gallery stand – “Charming Baker: Lie Down I Think I Love”. He thought it was cool and took a photo of it. As far as he was concerned it meant “Lie down I want to fuck you” while I was imagining, ” lie down, I’ve got something really serious to tell you” – yep we all live in our own worlds.

Both fairs were loaded with really creative, original and inspirational works of art, hard to photo sometimes and then choose which photos to put up. I love the image above, but I was so weighed down with books etc I’d picked up at various stands, plus I had my coat and camera I didn’t find out who it’s by or what it’s called and actually I like the idea of it being a mystery or maybe I’ll find out next year when I go again.

Frieze week day 3: A look at Andy Warhol and the London contemporary art sales at Christies, Sothebys and Phillips

Triple Elvis (Ferus Type)

Triple Elvis (Ferus Type) by Andy Warhol, silkscreen ink and silver paint on linen, 1963

I’m not good under pressure so with my back against the wall to get this piece published before the sales begin this evening, rather than firing up the lapper first thing this morning, I walked over to Browns the fish mongers in St Johns Wood to buy some of their smoke salmon scraps. Then I went up to my mum’s in Swiss Cottage for a quick cuppa before getting the 31 back to Chalk Farm only to realise I’d left the flat without my keys so I had to go back to my mum’s to pick up the spare set and then get the bus back here again. But I’m OK – just don’t ask me to do you a favour – at least not for the next couple of hours.

Andy Warhol Eternal Art Commodity

Self Portrait by Andy Warhol

Self Portrait by Andy Warhol

Is there an ever ending supply of Andy Warhol works? I think there must be because he figures strongly in nearly every sale and what’s more it looks like he’ll never saturate the market as his works usually go extremely well even though they often cost millions. In this week’s sales Christies is selling a total of 3, Sothebys 11 and Phillips 6.

Four Marlons by Andy Warhol

Four Marlons by Andy Warhol, silkscreen ink on unprimed linen. Painted in 1966


My favourites however are part of an exhibition of  six Warhols on view now at Christies but will be sold in New York on the 12th November. To my delight, a very plumy sounding Englishman was giving a talk to a group of ladies as I happened to roll into this exhibition. As’All Tomorrow’s Parties‘ played in the background, he suggested that the selfie above was taken in a photo booth, the type you use for your passport photo – you can see the top of the next photo at the bottom of the  image and wondered whether the sneering Andy was starring at himself, us or the art market? Humm. There’s no estimate given for “Triple Elvis (Fergus Type)”  ‘double troubled tripled, if you see what I mean,’ but he estimated $60,000,000 should do the trick. Nor is there an estimate for “Four Marlons” but after doing a bit of research myself it appears Carol Vogel of the New York Times (never heard of her but probably keep an ear out for her now) estimates they’ll pull in a combined figure of $140,000,000 as is reported on blouinartinfo. After giving it some thought, if I was to chose one, I’d defo go for the “Four Marlons”. Looking at him brought me back to my youth, to feeling cool again and the sexiness of feeling cool. Yep, that’s the one for me.

Grab your hat and gun

Is it just me or is there a more than usual amount of guns in the autumn sales?


VOIDED PERSON WITH GUNS AT HEAD (FLANKED BY CONFRONTATIONS) by John Baldessari, acrylic on colour coupler prints in artist’s frame

This Baldessari has an estimate of £300,000 — £400,000 and is in Sotheby’s evening sale.

Self Portrait by Cecilia Edefalk

Self Portrait by Cecilia Edefalk

Self Portrait by Cecilia Edefalk is estimated at £15,000 – £20,000 at Sotheby’s day sale.

Infantry by John-Michel Basquiat

Infantry by John-Michel Basquiat, acrylic and oil sticks on canvas

“Infantry” by John-Michel Basquiat is at Christies evening sale today with an estimate of £1,800,000 – £3,000,000. Click here to find out more about this painting.

If only they all knew that LOVE is all you need. Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE can be purchased at Christies day auction estimate £280,000 – £350,000 but of course the LOVE I’m talking about is PRICELESS.

Love by Robert Indiana

Love by Robert Indiana polychrome aluminium



Frieze Week Day 1: “We Could Not Agree” in a Public Car Park and “Abandoned Goods” documentary


The Art Detective’s Muse with Pandemonia

It’s Frieze week which  means there’s so much art being bought, sold, shown and talked about in London this week it’s hard to keep up with everything that’s going on. In fact I should have organised my diary way before Sunday evening because by this morning I was so overwhelmed I had to take time out from the scene already. So instead of going into town to view 1) The Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation (BJHRF) Benefit Auction ‘Arts for Human Rights’ being held at Phillips de Pury, 2) the M16  exhibition in support for Peace One Day at the ICA and 3) the contemporary art sales at Christies, Sotheby’s and Bonhams, I went for a walk on Primrose Hill instead, bought a cornfed chicken in the new butchers on Regent’s Park Road and made myself a nice cuppa tea.

Will do it all tomorrow but getting back to yesterday, I was mega inspired and touched by both events I went to. The first was “We Could Not Agree” a contemporary art exhibition held on the -3 level of Cavenish Square Car Park (behind the John Lewis store on Oxford Street) followed by the screening of “Abandoned Goods“, the documentary about asylum art which won a Golden Leopard for Best International Short Film at this year’s Locarno Film Festival.

Biblical Chocolate by Tasha Marks

Biblical Chocolate by Tasha Marks

Highlights from the first event include “Biblical Chocolate” by Tasha Marks who makes edible curiosities such as edible antique prints and renaissance sherbet. This is taking food as an art form to a whole new level. I’m inspired and want more. There’s a great video of her talking about her work here.

‘Lion Hearted’ by Thomas J Ridley

‘Lion Hearted’ by Thomas J Ridley

I was so mesmerised by this one, I forgot to ask who the artist was or even the name of the work. To me it’s the male version of Pamela Andersen – bar the bloody hands. No he’s not real. Thanks Thomas Ridley for the updated info.

The Object of its Own Grace by Mark Woods

The Object of its Own Grace by Mark Woods

There’s something very David Lynch about “The Object of its Own” Grace by Mark Woods. Underneath the floral print and fluffy pink and white frills lies a mass of sexual innuendo. Check out the objects up close and you’ll see what I mean.

And then the fabulous Pandemonia arrived. Described as “London based post pop conceptual artist”, what’s not to like? I loved her or him underneath the vinyl or latex although I once befriended a blonde air hostess at exactly the same time of year so I may just be perpetuating a habit.

Then on the other side of the river and in a completely different mind set I nestled into my comfy chair at the British Film Institute to watch “Abandoned Goods” a documentary by Pia Borg and Edward Lawrenson on art created by long term patients at Netherne Psychiatric Hospital. I wrote a post about it a couple of weeks ago called The Art of Being All Screwed Up. It was touching, saddening and also inspiring. It was followed by the documentary 72-82 about ACME but I was so tired I skipped it. It was raining as I walked over bridge to Embankment tube, I thought of taking a photo but couldn’t be arsed to get my camera out again. At that point the only thing I really, really, really wanted was my bed.


Bernard Buffet, Sir Peter Blake, Salvador Dalí and More at Roseberys Modern and Contemporary Prints Sale

Les Champs Elysees by Bernard Buffet, Screenprint, 1957

Les Champs Elysees by Bernard Buffet, Screenprint, 1957

After my exciting non-encounter with the Art Detective on Hatton Garden I took the train to West Norwood to view Rosebery’s Modern and Contemporary Prints sale which took place on Saturday 4th October. The first work that caught my eye was this Bernard Buffet screen print. Initially I wasn’t a great fan of Buffet. Besides posters of morose clowns dotted throughout my childhood, I’d see quite a lot of his works at Opera Gallery here in London or in the post-war contemporary art sales but the more I get  to know about the man himself the more I feel a certain curiosity and intrigue towards his art – sometimes the slow burners are the best.

It’s hard to tell from a photo but measuring 109 x 160 cms this screen print takes up a lot of wall space. I liked it but what put me off was that it appears to be from an unlimited edition and I find that quite strange for such a large work of art but maybe that’s just me. A quick look at Artprice showed the same image listed as an oil on canvas came up for sale in Antwerp in April 2006 again, but this time listed as a print, in October 2006 with an estimate of £1,206 – £1,608. Both went unsold. Since 2006 the same image has come up at auction in Tokyo as a tapestry and a print and in print form at Versailles.  This particular print sold at Roseberys for the hammer price of £450.

"Vichy- The Butterfly Man in Venice: Homage to Damien Hirst", 2011; giclee on canvas

“Vichy- The Butterfly Man in Venice: Homage to Damien Hirst”, 2011; giclee on canvas

Out of eight Sir Peter Blake prints only three sold: Vichy – The Butterfly Man in Venice: Homage to Damien Hirst (2011), sold for the hammer price of £3,500 (well under the low estimate of £5,000), Homage to Joseph Cornell (1996) (never heard of him, must look him up) sold for £260 and Sol 3765 (1964/69) sold for the hammer price of £620.

La Giraffe en Feu (Burning Giraffe) heliogravure by Salvador Dali from Tauromachie Surréaliste (1966/67)

La Giraffe en Feu (Burning Giraffe) heliogravure by Salvador Dali from Tauromachie Surréaliste (1966/67)

Bar one, all the Salvador Dali prints went like hot cakes, most of them around or below their lower estimates except for La Giraffe en Feu (Burning Giraffe) from the series Tauromachie Surréaliste (1966/67)  which was estimated at £600 -800 but fetched a hammer price of £1,900. Tauromachie Surréaliste or Surrealistic Bullfight in English was Dali’s response to Picasso’s “Tauromachie” series from 1957 – another subject for another day.

'Alison' by Cressida Campbell Woodcut in colours 1986

‘Alison’ by Cressida Campbell Woodcut in colours 1986

An unexpected result was for ‘Alison’ by Cressida Campbell (just cause it’s interesting: her sister is Nell Campbell aka ‘Little Nell’ of the Rocky Horror Picture Show – think ‘Do the Swim’).  It went for way over its estimate of £300-500, fetching the hammer price of £3,200.

Paint Bomber by SPQR, Screenprint in colours on silver card, 2008

Paint Bomber by SPQR, Screenprint in colours on silver card, 2008

There were lots more to be had by the usual subjects: Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, Roy Lichtenstein and Tracey Emin to name but a few. ‘Paint Bomber, a screen print by graffiti artist SPQR sold for £200 – I’m going to The Other Art Fair on Thurs evening – can’t wait but I’m confused – can someone explain to me difference between the Moniker Art Fair and The Other Art Fair?

On the whole, works estimated at over £1,000 didn’t do so well as the lower priced works. The lots that went unsold on the day of the auction including some fantastic Peter Blake and Joan Miros are still for sale on Rosebery’s online auction which closes on the 17th and which I think is well worth a gander.

Fancy another 5 mins procrastinating? I got Pop Art, Impressionism and Free Form

Bobbie Rainbow by Sir Peter Blake

Bobbie Rainbow by Sir Peter Blake

Just got an email from portrait artist Christian Furr with this website address. I did the test and got Pop Art, my opposite was Impressionism and my complimentary Free Form. Me!

Pop art, impressionist paintings, free form, and to be honest, all manner of art come up at auction in London quite regularly, usually at really great prices which is one of the very big reasons why I love living here. This Peter Blake limited edition lithoprint on tin sold at High Road Auctions in August just gone for £200! Mind you there are the commission and VAT fees to keep in mind which generally work out at around 25% on top of the hammer price. Still, it beats retail prices.

So now that you’ve done the test and know what you are, you can get collecting!

Window on the World by Hugh Cornwell and a Private View at WaterHouse & Dodd

Window on the World by Hugh Cornwell

Window on the World by Hugh Cornwell

Remember the song Golden Brown by the Stranglers, “Golden brown, texture like sun” – well I’m reading the dishy lead singer’s first novel , Window on the World.

The story takes place in the London art scene. We’ve got a botanist come writer called James Thornberry, a sexy gorgeous up and coming artist called Katherine Gaunt who Thornberry falls for (for her or her paintings?) and  Miles Goodfellow, a London gallery owner who’s Jame’s best friend and who represents Katherine. There’s a recurring reference to the act of defenestration which means to throw somebody or something out a window (or a swift dismissal or expulsion as from a political party or office) but it’s clear Cornwell is only concerned with the first meaning.

Passing Waves by Karen Gunderson

Passing Waves by Karen Gunderson

Actually I’m surprised I’m reading it at all because I don’t usually read books never mind novels and especially contemporary novels mainly because I’m a slow reader. The last book I read was in 2012 by Matti Friedman called The Aleppo Codex: A true story of obsession, faith, and the pursuit of an ancient bible – an absolutely brilliant read about the theft of a 10th century bible. In fact I’ll reread it when I finish this, probably in early 2015. Right now I’m on chapter 7.  It’s an easy read with a dark side and I’m always intrigued to know what happens next. I’ve been reading it in bed and on the tube – something I haven’t done in years –  and  another  joy is that the cover has an inside flap which I use as a book mark so I don’t have to bend over the page corners.

Growth Period 5 by Alex Rennie

Growth Period 5 by Alex Rennie

Anyway, that’s what I was reading on the tube yesterday on my way to Waterhouse & Dodd for their private view of works by Alex Rennie and Karen Gunderson.  Both have something going on – personally I preferred Rennie’s work – but what struck me the most was a painting in the back of the gallery out of view by Russian artist Marie Vassilieff. Now she’s someone I would have loved to hang out with.

Femme Assise Marie Vassilieff, 1910

Femme Assise, oil painting by Marie Vassilieff, 1910

Waterhouse & Dodd has recently moved to Albemarle Street from Cork Street – it’s a great new space. Interestingly, I’ve just read in section 2 of The Art Newspaper that they’ll soon to be joined by the Paris gallery Tornabuoni which will open there in Feb 2015. And seeminly, New York based Dominique Lévy is also looking for a gallery space in Mayfair. Albemarle street always had lots of galleries but it didn’t have the same connotations as Cork Street – maybe it’ll become the new Cork Street – for better or worse – who knows? Anyway, the London art scene is the best in the world whichever way you want to look at it.

I’m off to bed now with Hugh Cornwell – can’t wait. If you fancy a bit of him too you can read the first two chapters of Window on the World here.

“My Bed” by Tracey Emin for sale tomorrow at Christie’s

My Bed by Tracey Emin

My Bed by Tracey Emin

Charles Saatchi, art collector and ex husband of kitchen goddess Nigela Lawson, is selling one of his most famous works of art My Bed by Tracey Emin. Created by Emin in 1998, it was exhibited at the Tate Gallery in 1999 having been shortlisted for the Turner Prize and then subsequently bought by Saatchi in 2000 for £150,000 who installed it in the dinning room of his Belgravia home in London.

I enjoyed reading the Daily Telegraph interview with Emin in which the artist speaks about who’s likely to buy it and advises on hygiene issues. It’s estimated to sell for between £800,000 – £1,2000,000. I had to laugh when I read, ‘The only certainty, she said, is that it will not be quite the thing to appeal to a Middle Eastern buyer. “It’s not likely to end up there, is it?”‘

Detail from My Bed by Tracey Emin

Detail from My Bed by Tracey Emin

Personally I respect Tracey Emin and what she does. She takes risks, bares her soul and exposes her dark side as can be seen in this work replete with dirty knickers, used condoms, empty vodka bottles, an overflowing ashtray, a selfie (before selflies) and various debris reflecting her life and state of mind during that period of her life. From my point of view she’s saying, “I’m in a dark place right now but I’m not ashamed to be here. Yes, I have a dark side – here it is in all its glory.”

It takes courage to expose and embrace your dark side even to yourself privately. Doing it publicly brings it to a whole new level and that’s what makes this work iconic because the point is we all have a dark side but once it’s exposed there’s nothing to hide. She had the balls to go public with it and I really admire her for that. Who will buy it? And for how much? Update: It sold for £2.5 million last night but it’s not known yet who bought it – well not publicly anyway. Don’t look at me.

My Bed by Tracey Emin

My Bed by Tracey Emin

Schmoozing with Royalty at the Society of Women Artists 153rd Annual Exhibition

HRH Princess Michael of Kent

HRH Princess Michael of Kent at the Society of Women Artists’ 153rd Annual Exhibition

Besides a good cuppa tea, there’s nothing quite like schmoozing with royalty which is what I was up to yesterday morning at The Society of Women Artists’ 153rd Annual Exhibition. Myself along with many artists and art lovers packed ourselves into full capacity at the Mall Galleries, just off Trafalgar Square, where HRH Princess Michael of Kent graciously presented 15 awards. As a teenager there were two women who struck me as being utterly beautiful. One was Debbie Harry and the other was Princess Michael of Kent. Although they both seemed eternally beautiful to a 14 year old teen, beauty passes with age – as I grew older so did they – but the princess still looked great I thought and very elegant decked out in a turquoise ensemble, matching earrings and a Chanel handbag. And I really liked her voice: calm, relaxed and self assured.

Drifting in the Moment by Rebecca Fontaine-Wolfe

Drifting in the Moment by Rebecca Fontaine-Wolfe

Paintings that caught my eye included the large work entitled Drifting in the Moment by Rebecca Fontaine-Wolfe, (oil, acrylic, ink, pastel on canvas, £3,250) and I’m Nobody, Who are you? (Series II) by Irene Lees (black pen on paper, £1,250).

I'm Nobody, Who are You? (Series II) by Irene Lees

I’m Nobody, Who are You? (Series II) by Irene Lees

I was also interested to see Leaves are Full of Voices by Arina Gordienko (oil on canvas, £5,000) whose pictures are used on the covers of three books by Russian mystic Vadim Zeland. I read all five of his Reality Transurfing books when I was private tutoring in Astana, Kazakhstan several years ago. Every morning before teaching I’d bundle up and walk the half mile distance from my flat to the cafe in often – 15 to -20 degrees celius. And I’d stay there for hours eating fried eggs and potatoes reading my Zeland books. It was a very surreal experience indeed.

Arina Gordienko

Leaves are Full of Voices by Arina Gordienko