Art Market

Frank Bowling has joined Hauser & Wirth’s artist roster.

Justin Kamp
Oct 9, 2020 8:24PM, via ARTnews

Portrait of Frank Bowling. Photo by Sacha Bowling, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth.

The painter Frank Bowling has signed to Hauser & Wirth’s artist roster, leaving behind his New York gallery, Alexander Gray Associates, which has represented him since 2018. He will remain with Marc Selwyn Fine Art, which represents him in Los Angeles. Bowling will have his first solo exhibition with Hauser & Wirth in May 2021.

Bowling, in a statement, said of his signing:

After decades of labor, I am humbled to find a home in Hauser & Wirth. Iwan and Manuela have welcomed me into their extended family of artists including, among them long-lost friends and people whose work I have long admired.

Now 86 years old, Bowling was born in the British colony of Guyana before moving to the United Kingdom at 15. He is best known for his painting practice, which combines the formal qualities of abstraction with political commentaries on colonialism and racism. His most famous works include those in the “Map Paintings” series (1967–71), in which he stenciled continental landmasses over abstract color fields to comment on both his personal history and colonial geopolitics.

News of Bowling’s signing with Hauser & Wirth was followed shortly by the announcement that he’d been conferred the honor of Knight Bachelor on Queen Elizabeth II’s Birthday 2020 Honours List. In an statement, the artist’s sons and studio directors Ben and Sacha Bowling said:

We are delighted he is getting this distinction now for his contribution to the canon of contemporary and modern art. He has shown dedication and dogged persistence in the face of obstacles throughout his life of painting, including having to deal with stereotypical associations made between his work and origins. It requires exceptional dedication to follow one’s own unique vision for decades, for much of the time with little reward.

His work has been shown at the Studio Museum in Harlem and at the 2003 Venice Biennale, and is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and London’s Tate Gallery, among others. In 2019, Bowling was the subject of a major retrospective at Tate Britain which, according to Artsy data, resulted in a massive spike in on-platform demand, up three times the number of inquiries from the year before.

Recently, Bowling has been entrenched in a £30-million ($39.2 million) legal battle with the London-based Hales Gallery, with both parties accusing the other of a breach of contract. The artist alleges that the gallery has held onto more than 100 of his paintings, continuing to sell the works despite the termination of their contract in 2019. The gallery, meanwhile, claimed that the contract was terminated on illegitimate grounds, and has filed a countersuit for up to £14 million ($18.3 million) in lost commissions and damages.

Update: October 9th, 2020

This article has been revised to include information about Frank Bowling’s recent knighting.

Justin Kamp
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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019