An exhibition of works by René Gruau (1909-2004), whose illustrations helped to reinvigorate the Parisian fashion industry after the Second World War, features on the stand of Galerie Alexis Pentcheff at the inaugural Draw Art Fair London.
The self-taught artist first had his illustrations published at the age of just 14. During his 60-year career he worked with major designers, fashion houses and magazines, devoting much of his effort to advertising in both Europe and the US.
Bold, feminine silhouettes in bright colours define his works.
At the fair, which runs from May 17-19 at Saatchi Gallery, a collection of more than 50 works from the Gruau’s family collection are offered, including drawings, gouaches and inks on paper.
Galerie Alexis Pentcheff holds the largest collection of Gruau works in the world.
It is the latest in several shows the Parisian gallery has staged around Gruau. Works are available for prices from €5000-45,000.
Among those featured are the images he created for Christian Dior’s New Look collection launched in 1947. From this partnership came major advertising campaigns such as those for Miss Dior and Diorama. Other brands he worked for included Elizabeth Arden, Givenchy, Pellet Shoes and Balmain.
Draw Art Fair is a new event focusing on modern and contemporary drawing. According to founder Laurent Boudier (also founder of the Parisian fair Drawing Now), the London fair celebrates the medium as well as “fresh insights into an artist’s practice: the hesitations, decisions and inventions”.
Though focused on the fundamentals of drawing, the fair also presents the practice in a wider context. Exhibitors are encouraged to juxtapose drawings with related sculptures, paintings, photos or videos – so long as drawings account for around 70% of their offering.
This is “part of the Draw philosophy”, says strategic director Jill Silverman van Coenegrachts, “as it provides a dialogue between drawing and other mediums, illustrating the fundamental importance of the hand, making a mark, as the central role”.
The roster of international exhibitors includes Art Gallery O-68 from the Netherlands and Galerie Michael Janssen from Berlin, as well as UK galleries such as Arusha Gallery, Edinburgh, and Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London.
Draw Forum: A Passion for Drawing, running throughout the event, explores drawing, its markets and collectors. An ‘in conversation’ about post-war drawing, a panel on design, architecture and drawing and a discussion with artist Gérard Fromanger are all on the schedule.
Draw is one of three fairs launched at the Saatchi Gallery in the last 12 months.
The other two, started by Robert Sandelson, are Fair For Saatchi, which has its inaugural edition this summer, and British Art Fair, taking place for the second time in September.