London gallery Offer Waterman returns to Tefaf Spring for the second time this year, where it will present an exceptional selection of 20th century British art covering the period 1939-2017.
The earliest work on display will be Henry Moore’s Stringed Figure, 1939, a surrealist take on the reclining figure, inspired by mathematical models the artist saw in the Science Museum. At this time Moore was living in Hampstead, a suburb of London which had become home to a host of avant garde artists, designers and architects escaping the political situation in Europe. Among them was Piet Mondrian who Ben Nicholson invited to Hampstead in 1938. The two artists shared neighbouring studios for a year before Nicholson left with Barbara Hepworth for the safety of St Ives, their close relationship evident in Nicholson’s later painting 1942 (H.S.), 1942.
The painter Lucian Freud is represented here by an important portrait of Soho photographer Harry Diamond, Man with Glasses, c.1963-4. This is one of only four paintings of the sitter, two of which are held in public collections. In the early 1960s, Freud began to move away from the intense detail which had occupied him in the 1950s and began painting with large, hog-hair brushes. This change in approach led to a looser portrait style, Freud now describing skin and flesh through emphatic, almost sculptural marks. The notion of a hard-won portrait is also present in Frank Auerbach’s Head of Catherine Lampert, 2017, an intimate, multi-layered image which encapsulates the sitter’s 40 year-long relationship with the artist. The close connection between the work of Auerbach and his older friend Leon Kossoff can be seen in their vibrant London landscapes Primrose Hill, Hot Summer Evening, 1974-5 and Between Kilburn and Willesden Green, Autumn, 1987.
Barbara Hepworth’s 1.2 metre two-part sculpture, Two Forms in Echelon, 1961, is a truly spectacular outdoor bronze. Until the fair, the last time this bronze was shown in New York was at the Marlborough-Gerson Gallery in 1966; while this specific edition (2/7) has stood undisturbed for over forty years in the courtyard of the Barnaloft studio complex at Porthmeor Beach, St Ives, since being unveiled by the artist in 1963. In contrasting scale, Hepworth’s Three Forms (Family Group), 1965, is an exquisite tripartite carving in slate, one of a series of works exploring the balance and tension between three forms, which make oblique reference to the artist’s triplet children.
Allen Jones’ The General and His Girl, 1961 is a classic work of British pop art, whose colourful, semi-abstract figuration looks to the paintings of Paris-based modernists Kandinsky, Robert and Sonia Delaunay. The impression of moving figures in Jones’s picture inhabits similar ground to contemporary Howard Hodgkin, whose notionally abstract paintings in fact recreate the atmosphere of real life encounters with friends. He is represented here by the glorious late painting Through a Glass Darkly, 2015-16.
The gallery has become well known for its expertise in the early work of David Hockney and this is underlined by the inclusion of two exceptionally beautiful drawings My Room, (My Window), 1973, and Randy, 1974. Both are built up in delicate layers of crayon and date from the two-year period Hockney spent living in Paris where he focused on producing first-hand drawings of friends.