T his November, Sotheby's is delighted to present British & Irish Art week, led by the flagship live sale of Modern British & Irish art at 2pm on Tuesday 23 November. With a collabration with Tom Dixon and Stevie Parle's JOY pop-up in the Sotheby's gallery, the week will be a celebration of the best of British art, design and food.
This November's sale of Modern British Art is led by exceptional post-war sculpture, from the 'Geometry of Fear' group including Reg Butler, Bernard Meadows and Kenneth Armitage to the following generation including eminent teacher, writer and artist Anthony Caro and Barry Flanagan, right up to Emily Young working today. Other highlights in the sale include a group of beautiful Ivon Hitchens paintings, an exceptional Cedric Morris flowerscape and great works by on paper by Bridget Riley and Frank Auerbach.
It was in the catalogue introduction to the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale of 1952 that critic Herbert Read coined his famous phrase ‘the geometry of fear’ to describe a new generation of immensely talented young sculptors. The group included Eduardo Paolozzi, William Turnbull, Reg Butler, Robert Adams, Kenneth Armitage, Geoffrey Clarke and Bernard Meadows at Chadwick, and the exhibition propelled them to international fame. These sculptors were seen by Read to make manifest post-war angst: ‘These new images belong to the iconography of despair, or of defiance; and the more innocent the artist, the more effectively he transmits the collective guilt. Here are images of flight, or ragged claws, scuttling across the floors of silent seas, of excoriated flesh, frustrated sex, the geometry of fear.’
We start the sale with a wonderful group of works from a Distinguished British Collection, which features British modernism with works by Henry Moore, post-war abstraction in the paintings of William Scott, to contemporary pieces by one of Britain’s greatest living artists Bridget Riley.