His exhibition, Some of the artists I have worked for: 50 years of the Bernard Jacobson Gallery, running from September 10-October 5, brings together a wide selection of works by these top names and many more in his premises in St James’s, London.
It recalls his work championing lesser-known artists and curating the art of leading figures. The selection spans more than 130 years.
Théière noir et deux citrons (1948), an oil on panel by Georges Braque (1882-1963), is among the more historic offerings – although the painter, ironically, is the most recent artist to ‘join’ the gallery.
“I thought the century’s greats were Picasso, Braque and Matisse,” Jacobson says. “What had happened to Braque? I would like to work very hard for Braque and so hopefully restore him to the reputation he truly deserves.”
The dealer launched his gallery in 1969 and his career has included art book and print publishing.
His show kicks off with his first-ever purchase: a sculpture by Ivor Abraham (1935-2015) who lived near Jacobson’s childhood home in Willesden, north London.
“The messy studio was full of plaster moulds in glaring chalky white and the occasional bronze sculpture. There I saw Gorgophone for the first time, in 1959, and I rather rashly agreed to buy it,” Jacobson says. “I had to pay the cost of £40, spread in equal payments over one year. A lifetime later, a matter of 10 years, I became his publisher and eventually his dealer too.”
The sculpture, part of Jacobson’s personal collection, is among the exhibition works on loan but many others are for sale. Also on show are portraits of Jacobson by Peter Blake and Howard Hodgkin.