The New Scene: Art in London in the ‘60s

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London in the 1960s witnessed an exciting explosion of visual culture. Back on its feet following the destruction of the Second World War, it became the breeding ground for a new generation of artists, photographers and designers, fresh out of art school and keen to make their mark. Click ahead to see highlights from the Made in Britain sale that tell the story of an unforgettable decade.

Made in Britain
London | 5 April

The New Scene: Art in London in the ‘60s

  • David Bailey, The Kray Brothers, 1965. Estimate £10,000–15,000.
    The 1960s witnessed the birth of popular celebrity culture, and photographer David Bailey stood at the very heart of it. The photographer shot some of the capital’s most recognised faces, including in 1965 the notorious London gangster brothers the Krays. Bailey himself said, “There’s no place like London – it’s the greatest city on Earth.”

  • Bridget Riley, Untitled (Fragment 2), 1965. Estimate £15,000–20,000.
    Aligned with the birth of the Op Art movement, Bridget Riley made her name in the 1960s with her striking paintings and prints, and today is widely regarded as one of Britain’s most successful international artists. She later summed up the decade: “The Sixties were a unique point in time… an explosion of optimism and confidence, elation and drive.”

  • Bert Stern, Twiggy, 1967. Estimate £3,000–5,000.
    For many, to think of London in the 1960s is to think of one thing – fashion. The city was at the very heart of the international fashion scene, with the emergence of designers such as Mary Quant and her epochal mini dress design, and models such as Twiggy, here photographed by Bert Stern in 1967 in front of a painting by Bridget Riley.

  • Antony Donaldson, Rushes, 1964. Estimate £7,000–10,000.
    Like his contemporary David Hockney, Antony Donaldson was a pioneering figure in the British Pop Art scene, and like Hockney he travelled to the US, living and working in Los Angeles between 1966 and 1968. He was featured in important London exhibitions during the decade, including The New Generation at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1964 and Recent British Painting at the Tate in 1967. Like his contemporaries Allen Jones and Patrick Caulfield, Donaldson was drawn to new and exciting ways of depicting the female figure – a theme which continues to dominate the artist’s work.

  • David Bailey, Box of Pin Ups, 1965. Estimate £5,000–7,000.
    To be part of the London ‘scene’ in the swinging sixties was to feel that anything and indeed everything was possible. As the legendary gallerist Kasmin commented, “Hardly a day went by when you didn’t see something to be excited about”. Kasmin gave the young David Hockney his first solo exhibition in 1963, and two years later the artist was photographed by David Bailey as part of his now legendary Pin Ups series.

  • David Hockney, The Hypnotist, 1963. Estimate £6,000–8,000.
    The subject of a major retrospective currently on display at London’s Tate Britain , David Hockney was at the artistic forefront during the 1960s – leading the way in British Pop through his dialogues with the American scene. Whilst his paintings now sell for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, his prints, of which there is an exciting selection featured in the  Made In Britain auction on 5 April, are an accessible way to own a work by the artist.

  • Joe Tilson, Geometry, 1965. Estimate £3,000–5,000.
    The 1960s were a decade that gave rise to some of Britain’s now most celebrated artists, photographers and designers, many of whom, such as Bridget Riley and Joe Tilson, made use of the advancements in new and exciting materials such as Perspex and plastics. These new materials, bright, bold colours and striking patterns captured the exciting essence of the decade.

  • Terence Donovan, Julie Christie, 1962. Estimate £1,500–2,000.
    Actress Julie Christie was an icon of ‘swinging London’, achieving her breakthrough role in the 1963 film Billy Liar. 1965 was heralded as ‘The Year of Julie Christie’ by Life magazine, after her role as a model in the John Schlesinger-directed film Darling. Photographer Terence Donovan was noted for his fashion photography of the 1960s, with subjects including Marianne Faithful, and in 1962 he photographed Christie in what is now considered one of his most iconic shoots.

  • Eduardo Paolozzi, Moonstrips Empire News Volume I, General Dynamic F.U.N., and Bunk! Estimate £3,000–5,000.
    Scottish artist Eduardo Paolozzi was an early pioneer of British Pop Art, with his work currently the subject of a major retrospective at London’s Whitechapel Art Gallery . Paolozzi drew inspiration from the mass media, and collage, in particular, became a favourite medium for the artist, together with his exciting advancements in printmaking. For a chance to see a recreation of the artist’s studio head to Edinburgh’s Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art – it’s well worth a visit!

  • Patrick Hughes, Marching Stripes, 1961. Estimate £4,000–6,000.
    Today best known for his mind-bending perspective paintings, Patrick Hughes was one of the first artists to be labelled with the ‘Pop’ title and to exhibit in London, at the progressive Portal Gallery. Using high gloss paint he drew inspiration from the mass media and advertising material that littered everyday London life, and saw his work collected by celebrities and singers of the day, including the late David Bowie – indeed three works by the artist were featured in the Bowie/Collector sale at Sotheby’s in November 2016.

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