American consumer culture inspired Clive Barker after a three week visit to New York in April 1966 – embodied in the Coca-Cola bottle. He cast his first Coke bottle immediately on his return to London in May. In 1968 he returned to the Coke bottle as a subject for two years, when he subjected it to numerous permutations: bottles in pairs or groups of three, with or without straws, upright and on their side, with caps on, off or in the process of being removed. The series of Coke bottles became symbols of ‘Cool Britain’ and Swinging 1960s London. Coke with Two Straws, shown here, priced around £45,000 at Whitford Fine Art, was made in an edition of 8 in chrome-plated bronze for Barker’s one-man show at the Hanover Gallery.

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Clive Barker (b.1940) is a less well-known but important name in the scene. When his contemporaries such as Peter Blake, Richard Hamilton, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein explored post-war popular culture through two dimensional artforms, Barker focused on sculpture.

Sense of permanence

Although one of his American pop art colleagues, Claes Oldenburg, “reinvented sculpture in the early 1960s by taking ‘hard’ manufactured objects from the contemporary environment and rendering them as ‘soft’ forms sewn from canvas”, Barker in his first two decades of work (1961-81) often turned forms that are pliable or tender to the touch into inflexible metal objects. These convey an “indisputable sense of their permanence”.

His work was exhibited in London at high-profile galleries such as the legendary Robert ‘Groovy Bob’ Fraser and the Hanover Gallery.

According to Whitford, “after Minimalism and post-pop had forced pop art from the centre stage during the 1980s”, Barker returned to the art market with aluminium sand casts – hence the title of the 2021 exhibition.

In contrast with Barker’s early work, these 1990s sand casts were often produced in editions and are therefore more easily accessible.

The Cadogan Square gallery says Barker “plays a unique role in the story of pop art” because of his emphasis on such sculptures.

His work entered numerous museum collections and prominent pop art collections worldwide.


Clive Barker met the singer Marianne Faithfull through her husband John Dunbar in 1964. After their official divorce and her split with Mick Jagger, Barker started seeing more of her. According to Whitford Fine Art: “He was fascinated by her iconic beauty and glitzy lifestyle and asked her if he could do a sculpture of her breasts. She thought it to be the best chat-up line she had ever heard.” Barker made three sculptures of her: Tits (M.F.), Head of Marianne Faithfull, a cast of her luscious lips, and Torso of Marianne featuring a cast of her nipples. Shown here is Tits (M.F.), a unique work from 1975 in painted wood, priced around £30,000.

Five one-man shows

Whitford Fine Art director Adrian Mibus told ATG: “We have represented Clive Barker since 1998 and continue to do so. And Jo Fermon, one of our directors, published a catalogue raisonné on his works from the period 1958-2000.

“Our gallery has held five one-man shows on Barker, each accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue. Currently we have planned an exhibition of unique bronze works during November 2023. We were going to show about 10 of Barker’s works at Masterpiece but the fair is cancelled!

“We are exhibiting six sculptures at the BRAFA fair in Brussels, however, from January 29 continuing until February 5.”

Pictured here are two Barker items on offer from Whitford Fine Art including Tits (M.F.) which will be on show at BRAFA.