Historic Highlights from the Brave New Visions Exhibition

Anthony Caro - Woman Arranging Her Hair -  Photo from Offer Waterman 2421.jpg
Launch Slideshow

From 17 July to 9 August, Sotheby's will host an exhibition celebrating the story of the pioneering émigré art dealers who transformed the London gallery scene, introducing artists such as Naum Gabo, Oskar Kokoschka, Kurt Schwitters and Francis Bacon to post-war Britain. Along with a programme of talks, works by Ben Nicholson, Graham Sutherland and Lynn Chadwick will be on display. Click through for highlights.

The exhibition is part of INSIDERS/OUTSIDERS, a year-long nationwide arts festival celebrating refugees from Nazi Europe and their impact on British culture. Participating venues include Tate Britain, the National Portrait Gallery, the Wallace Collection, Glyndebourne and Pallant House Gallery.

Historic Highlights from the Brave New Visions Exhibition

  • © Estate of Josef Herman. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2019. With kind permission, Ben Uri Collection
    Josef Herman, Refugees, circa 1941.
    Josef Herman left Poland in 1938 for Brussels to escape violent antisemitism. After the Nazi invasion of Belgium, he fled to France, and then to Britain. He settled first in Glasgow, where with fellow émigré artist Jankel Adler, he contributed to a resurgence of the Scottish arts scene. A year after completing Refugees, Herman discovered from the Red Cross that his entire family had perished in the Warsaw Ghetto.

    The artist is best known for his studies of miners in paint, ink and charcoal, made during the eleven years when he lived in the Welsh mining community of Ystradgynlais.
  • © Courtesy of Crane Kalman Gallery
    Andras Kalman outside his Manchester Gallery with Graham Sutherland's Standing Figure, 1954.
    Andras Kalman left Hungary to study in England just before the outbreak of World War Two. Ten years later he opened one of Manchester’s first commercial contemporary galleries in a former air raid shelter. Using his famous Hungarian charm, he persuaded London galleries and the new generation of British artists to lend him work, which he frequently transported on the roof rack of his Morris Minor. A rare sale was to Salford-based artist L.S. Lowry, marking the beginning of a life-long friendship.

    Kalman moved to London in 1957 and opened the Crane Kalman Gallery on Brompton Road, where he promoted artists he considered critically underrated. He and his wife Dorothy built up an unrivalled collection of English folk art now housed at Compton Verney.
  • © National Portrait Gallery, London
    Charles and Peter Gimpel Portrait by Ida Kar, 1958.
    Brothers Charles and Peter Gimpel were the third generation of a family of renowned French art dealers. Their father bought direct from Monet and Renoir. Both were honoured for distinguished Allied service in World War Two. In 1946, they founded Gimpel Fils in honour of their father René who had been captured for his active role in the Maquis, and perished in Neuengamme concentration camp.

    They funded their gallery’s early days by recovering some of Rene’s stock, which had been sent to a Bayswater lock-up before the war and narrowly escaped damage during the Blitz. This formed the basis of their opening show, Five Centuries of French Painting. They were widely respected for their generous support and championship of modern British sculptors and painters as well as their exhibitions of European artists such as Soutine and Modigliani.
  • © Estate of Graham Sutherland
    Graeme Sutherland, Thornhead, 1947.
    One of a series of oil paintings created in the 1940s of surreal landscapes on the Pembrokeshire coast, which secured Sutherland’s reputation as a leading British modernist. He had served as an official war artist in World War Two, drawing industrial scenes on the British home front.

    Sutherland was inspired equally by landscape and religion, and is also remembered for designing the world’s largest tapestry, Christ in Glory, for the re-built Coventry Cathedral consecrated in 1962. Thornhead was first shown in Colour, Pure and Atmospheric in 1947 at Roland, Browse and Delbanco, where it was bought by Henry Roland.
  • Beth Phillips © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved, DACS 2019 Courtesy Private Collection
    Francis Bacon, Figure in Sea, 1957.
    Erica Brausen at the Hanover Gallery began to represent Francis Bacon in 1948, having already sold one of his paintings to The Museum of Modern Art. She gave the artist his first solo show in 1949. The gallery held exhibitions of Bacon’s work every year except 1956, until he moved to Marlborough Fine Art in 1959 – a move which Brausen saw as a betrayal.

    Bacon’s work at the time was highly controversial for, among other reasons, its depiction of male homosexual relations. The display of such imagery could have led to prosecution for the gallery’s owners. Nevertheless, the gallery stuck by Bacon, providing very necessary financial support despite slow sales and Bacon’s unpredictable behaviour.
  • Courtesy of Barford Sculptures Ltd
    Anthony Caro, Woman Arranging Her Hair I (Spring), 1955.
    Anthony Caro moved back to London in 1954 after working as Henry Moore’s assistant in Much Hadham, Hertfordshire for two years. A year later, he was teaching at St Martin’s School of Art and making work in the garage of his Hampstead home. This bronze was exhibited with fifteen others in his first solo show at Gimpel Fils in 1957. The sculpture’s abstracted qualities are an early hint of the radical new direction Caro would take after 1959 with abstract steel sculptures, which hugely influenced the next generation of British sculptors, many of whom he taught at St Martin’s.

    Caro was part of the team, with architect Sir Norman Foster and engineer Chris Wise, who designed the Millennium footbridge across the Thames.
  • © Bernard Cohen. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2019. Courtesy Flowers Gallery London & New York
    Bernard Cohen, Untitled #3, 1963.
    Cohen calls himself a painter without a subject. Recollecting the 1960s, he has written: ‘It may be that the blacked-out and fog-bound London of the war years caused me to be sensitive to light emerging from darkness and darkness emerging from light.’

    Showing his work publicly for the first time in the Young Contemporaries exhibition of 1953, he was selected by Gimpel Fils, with five other graduating students, and had solo exhibitions there in 1958 and 1960, when the gallery sold a painting to the Museum of Modern Art, New York. An exhibition at the Molton Gallery followed in 1962.

    ‘The important thing for me is to make every part of the painting alive in its own way’.
  • ©Courtesy of Annely Juda Fine Art
    Annely Juda in her Gallery, Annely Juda Fine Art, 2004.
    After the Nazis took control of Kassel in 1932-3, Juda fled with her family to Palestine, moving to London in 1937. After the war she visited the first Documenta exhibition of international contemporary art, in her birthplace, Kassel. This experience, together with a brief spell working for the art dealer Eric Estorick in London, determined her future. In 1960 Juda opened her first gallery, Molton. She was a fierce champion of Central European and Russian Modernism, and of the new generation of British artists. In 1970 she launched a series of highly regarded Non-Objective World exhibitions to promote non-Parisian Modernism.

    A dedicated internationalist, eager to embrace the future, Juda’s judgement was widely respected.
  • Courtesy England & Co
    Vicky, Jack Bilbo, 1943.
    Vicky (Victor Weisz) drew the art dealer Jack Bilbo while his Anti-Fascist Exhibition was on the walls of Bilbo’s Modern Art Gallery. In Bilbo’s gloriously eclectic programme, Vicky’s satirical cartoons coincided with paintings by 19th and 20th century Impressionists and Picasso’s La Belle Hollandaise. Vicky has caricatured Picasso’s painting and the larger than life art dealer. Vicky’s biting commentaries on the idiocies of war were published in the News Chronicle throughout World War Two. The son of a Hungarian Jewish goldsmith, he trained first as a painter, but aged 15 started working at the anti-Hitler journal 12 Uhr Blatt in Berlin. When the Nazis took over the paper in 1933, he fled, eventually settling in England in 1935.
  • © National Portrait Gallery, London
    Erica Brausen in the Hanover Gallery, photographed by Ida Kar, 1959.
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