Aspects of Modern British Sculpture: The Post War Generation runs from September 27-October 27 and, as the name suggests, is a group show of modern British sculpture set at Osborne Samuel’s new location in Dering Street.
This is an art world equivalent of a summer ‘blockbuster’ film: a large show, many years in the making, with a stand-out ensemble cast.
It features Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, arguably the most coveted of modern British artists today, as well as other figures of enduring popularity such as Lynn Chadwick, Kenneth Armitage, William Turnbull and Eduardo Paolozzi.
The gallery’s Tania Sutton, looking back on the process of compiling this assortment of high-quality works, describes it as “a long journey” stretching back to the first discussions about it in the gallery 10 years ago.
But the Osborne Samuel efforts have resulted in securing a number of pieces that have not been seen since various editions of the Venice Biennale in the 1950s, and other works fresh to the market.
For example, Chadwick’s Mobile, 1952, was gifted to a friend who was ill in bed. Though Chadwick told her he was bringing her a bunch of flowers, he arrived with the vivid red and yellow steel mobile and it has stayed in the recipient’s collection ever since.
“It’s an ambitious project,” Sutton adds. “It’s always a matter of getting everything together at the right time and organising always goes right up to the eleventh hour, especially when it comes to pieces from private collections. But works such as the Chadwick are unique.”
Prices in the show range from around £12,500 (for one of the works by Robert Adams) to more than £1m. The commercial element of the show is supported by a detailed catalogue and a number of pieces – about a quarter in total – on loan to the gallery.
Autumn is an ideal time to stage a major exhibition. It opens 10 days after the gallery’s appearance at the 20/21 British Art Fair and is open during the LAPADA, PAD and Frieze Masters fairs which bring an international clientele through London.
But for Osborne Samuel, it is a chance to secure in buyers’ minds its new place on the map following its move from Bruton Street in the spring – the result of rising rents and increasing fashion profile in the area.
“Organising always goes right up to the eleventh hour, especially when it comes to pieces from private collections
Its inaugural exhibition, The Romantic Impulse, featured the works of neo-Romantic British painters. Now, with Aspects of Modern British Sculpture, it is reasserting itself as a leading destination to see and acquire sculpture in the capital.
Meanwhile, in Albemarle Street, an exhibition at Connaught Brown focuses on a single artist: the French painter Genevieve Claisse (b.1935).
The exhibition from September 20-October 21 is the first solo UK show for an artist whose works are represented in the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.
Claisse started her career in post-war Paris in the 1950s and her works are seen as following in the tradition of Piet Mondrian and Kazimir Malevich.
Her style is slightly unusual for the gallery’s Anthony Brown, who was drawn to an apparently intuitive quality of her hard-line abstraction. He describes her appeal as akin to that of Bridget Riley’s art, with what he describes as a “spirituality and internal resonance”.
“One of the things that interested me about the artist was that she doesn’t command very big prices at auction,” Brown says – her works tend to take in the low tens of thousands and many of the higher prices have been made at New York sales. He also references the low prices Riley’s works made in the 1980s before her resurgence in the market.
Whether or not he has found the French Riley, Brown is excited to offer Claisse’s work. It is a chance to exhibit pieces that are both appealing and relatively affordable.
The exhibition includes works on paper, which range in price from around £2600-12,000, and paintings, which are available from roughly £15,000-58,000. Three sculptures are also on offer.
“This is a chance to sell really good pieces for around £40,000 or less,” Brown says. “It’s been harder to find historically relevant pieces in the lower five figures. It’s a hard market, which is why I was so excited when I found these.”
Around the same area, visitors in London will have access to even more modern art.
As well as the 20/21 British Art Fair (September 13-17), Redfern Gallery will hold Dreaming Oneself Awake (September 12-30) focusing on the works of Eileen Agar (1899-1991), the British painter and photographer associated with the surrealist movement.
For more contemporary offerings, Tomasso Brothers will hold an exhibition of stoneware by Jacob van der Beugel called Memento Mori (September 16-24), while Waterhouse & Dodd will feature the works of painter Michael Canning from September 26-October 20 in Matter, Motion, Minutes.