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Sotheby's announces Made in Britain, starring the art of the swinging sixties
Chris Levine, Lightness of Being, 2004 (est. £50,000-70,000). Photo: Sotheby's.

LONDON.- A sale dedicated to capturing the diversity and innovative spirit of British art in the twentieth century, Sotheby’s Made in Britain auction on 5 April will offer a snapshot into the zeitgeist of a generation of artists, printmakers, sculptors, designers, photographers and ceramicists. April’s edition will comprise just under 300 lots and with estimates starting at £400, the auction is the perfect opportunity for a new buyer’s first foray into collecting works by some of the most sought-after names in British art. The exhibition opens to the public on Friday 31 March, and will be highlighted by three free gallery talks on Sunday 2 April – with photographer to the stars Terry O’Neill, Pop Art pioneer Patrick Hughes and author Gerard Hastings.

'I asked her to rest between shots – it was a moment of stillness that just happened'1
Chris Levine, Lightness of Being, 2004 (est. £50,000-70,000)

Photographer Chris Levine seeks to illuminate the power inherent in stillness and, although his subjects are among the most photographed people in the world, he has a knack for capturing them at rest as if in the calm of a storm. This portrait of Queen Elizabeth II is considered Levine’s most iconic shot, and is a definitive example of the pulsating, meditative energy of the artist’s style. During the photoshoot, the Queen was required to sit still for 8 seconds at a time, and between the passes she closed her eyes to rest. Levine was struck by the beauty of her meditative state and snapped the shutter, resulting in this powerful and strikingly modern image. Acquired directly from the artist, this unique pigment print will be appearing at auction for the first time.

“There’s no place like London – it’s the greatest city on Earth” – David Bailey

In the wake of the destruction of the Second World War, London in the 1960s witnessed an exciting explosion of visual culture – the breeding ground for a new generation of artists fresh out of art school and keen to make their mark. In this visual revolution, anything and everything was possible. These artists took on the new free-flowing ideas and attitudes of the decade to transcend every medium and break free from the traditional ties of artistic distinction – making art that they believed needed to be looked at.

Internationally celebrated exponent of optical art, Bridget Riley made use of the advances in materials to explore the dynamic possibilites of optical phenomena – with hypnotic works that triggered a disorientating physical effect on the eye. Also illustrated above, is a photograph of cultural icon and one of the first supermodels, Twiggy, captured standing against a Riley work by photographer Bert Stern – an encapsulation of fashion, art, photography and music.

Photographer David Bailey created the cult of celebrity with his iconic ‘Pin Ups’ from 1965 (illustrated above, est. £5,000-7,000) – becoming the decade’s chronicler through defining portraits focussing on the new social order.

Legendary gallerist Kasmin gave the young David Hockney, fresh out of the Royal College of Art, his first solo exhibition, and Hockney’s works distil the very essence of excitement and confidence that abounded during this period. A group the artist’s prints in the sale offer new and first-time collectors the opportunity to acquire his works.

Visually engaging works by Patrick Hughes and Antony Donaldson also form part of the fascinating and vibrant group.

Dame Elisabeth Frink, Lying Down Horse , bronze, 1978 (est. £60,00080,000)
“The animals I make are far more what I feel about them than what they are in real life… I’m much more interested in the spirit of the animal”

One of the top lots of the auction is a beautifully intimate sculpture by Dame Elisabeth Frink, expressing one of the essential themes in her work - the “horseness” of horses2. Having ridden from a young age at her home in Suffolk, horses were Frink’s lifelong passion and the warmth, love and respect for her subject matter shines through in this work.

Laurence Stephen Lowry, The Lookers On , oil on canvas, 1965 (est. £50,000-80,000)
“You see these people in the street… They stand at street corners and they are staring at something and you wonder what they are thinking when they are staring. Have you ever noticed them?”

By the 1960s, when Lowry painted this work, he was shifting his focus from panoramic views of the city towards individual figures. In this haunting painting he exploits the urban landscape with remarkable technical prowess to further his theme of isolation and loneliness.

Henry Moore, Two Women , charcoal, pen, ink, watercolour, wash and gouache on paper, 1980 (est. £15,000-25,000)
A number of Henry Moore works will be offered in the auction, ranging from prints starting at £400 to his 1980 Two Women (left) all of which convey both the gravitas and timelessness of these traditional figurative poses.

The enduring legacy of Moore's work has influenced countless creatives, artists and designers – and this year is no exception. Christopher Bailey, Artistic Director of fashion house Burberry spoke of Moore's influence over his latest collection, which was unveiled during London Fashion Week in the Burberry Maker's House, alongside more than 40 sculptures, maquettes and working models allowing viewers a glimpse into the creative processes of two icons of British cultural heritage. The partnership between the Henry Moore Foundation and Burberry marks not only 40 years of the foundation, but also Moore’s significance in art history as a major contributor to the story of international Modernism.

Oscar Nemon, Bust of Winston Churchill , bronze, conceived in the mid-1960s (est. £12,000-18,000)
Appearing at auction for the first time, this unique bust of Winston Churchill was comissioned directly from the artist by DFDS to celebrate launch of M/S Winston Churchill in 1964.

In 1976 the artist R.B. Kitaj coined the term ‘School of London’ to describe a group of artists working in London who pursued forms of figurative painting in the face of the ever-growing strength of avant-garde and abstract movements. At its heart stood Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff, Francis Bacon, Michael Andrews and Lucian Freud.

Keith Vaughan, Portraits of John Russell, Francis Bacon and David Sylvester , pencil on paper, 1976 (est. £2,500-3,500)
Never before seen at auction, this fascinating portrait of Francis Bacon (centre), John Russell (left) and David Sylvester (right) by Keith Vaughan was originally in the collection of prominent British artist Prunella Clough. Clough recalled that in March 1976 she had invited Vaughan to lunch with the art critics John Russell and David Sylvester and the painter Francis Bacon. Despite his mother’s death she reported that he was highly sociable and, in an uncharacteristically ebullient moment, Vaughan had made a large drawing of the three other guests in front of them at the dining room table. A number of works by the artist will feature in the sale, ahead of the Tate Britain’s Queer British Art exhibition, which opens in April 2017 - marking the 50 year anniversary of the decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England.

Grayson Perry, Inoffensive Image , felt tip pen on paper, (est. £1,000- 2,000)

Sotheby’s will support Oxfam, offering three of the original designs used for their 2016 Christmas card collection, with proceeds donated to the charity. Inoffensive Image by Perry is an early sketch of a piece that is to feature in his next show at the Serpentine in June.

Rankin, Suspended Kate in Colour, 1999 , 2014 (est. £10,000-15,000)

Kate Moss inspired countless photographers throughout the 20th century, and Rankin’s compelling portraiture captures what makes the model quite so special. Rankin himself previously said that “no one comes close to her… she always pushes the boundaries”.

Lorenzo Agius, Ewan, Trainspotting , 1996 (est. £2,500-3,500)
Capturing the spirit of the 1990s, Lorenzo Agius' instantly recognisable photograph of Ewan McGregor staring into the camera as Mark Renton from the film Trainspotting recalls the moment when both figures first shot to fame.

Duffy, Aladdin Sane , 1973, (est. £10,000 – 15,000)
Opening the sale is Brian Duffy’s photograph of David Bowie was the result of a magical photographic shoot for the cover of Aladdin Sane, Bowie’s 1973 album – an iconic image of a man whose visual style influenced a generation.

C.R.W. Nevinson, Returning to the Trenches , 1916 (est. £50,000-70,000)
“Our Futurist technique is the only possible medium to express the crudeness, violence and brutality of the emotions seen and felt on the present battlefields of Europe.”

First shown at the ground-breaking 1916 show at London’s prestigious Leicester Galleries – attended by the great and the good of London’s literary, social and political set – Returning to the Trenches is one of the most recognised images of life on the Western Front.

Claude Flight, Speed , (est. £15,000-25,000)
The auction will also present a number of vibrant Grosvenor school prints of iconic London subjects, by artists from Claude Flight to Sybil Andrews. Claude Flight was an inspirational figure, who only became an artist in his early thirties, after stints as an engineer, librarian, farmer and beekeeper. Flight envisaged a new art that celebrated the speed, movement and hustle of the new rapidly changing world.

Julian Opie, Ruth Smoking , 2006 (est. £30,000-50,000)
“Is it the viewer, or the viewed, or the artist? I don’t know. I go by trial and error… If I see something in the world that sings, I grab it.”

Visual artist Opie initially takes photographs of his subject matter before digitally manipulating these to construct his images by a process of elimination and distillation, and through this practice has developed a concise and reductive formal language.

Responding to the insatiable demand in the market, the sale features an exciting selection of fresh-to-market works by some of the most important ceramicists working in Britain to date.

Dame Lucie Rie, An Early Tea Set (comprising a teapot, jug, cup and saucer) , circa 1930s (est. £2,500-3,500) created before Rie fled to London.
One of Britain’s most eminent potters, Dame Lucie Rie is credited for having elevated the position of ceramics to that of fine arts. Born in Vienna in 1902, Rie’s celebrated career was forged out of a splintered life of displacement – escaping growing Nazi pressures to become part of a small group of European émigré artists that redefined British culture.

Alfred Wallis, Painted Jug (est.6,000 – 8,000)
Appearing at auction for the first time, this extremely rare work was gifted by Wallis to the son-in-law of his stepdaughter. Having worked as a fisherman for most of his life, Wallis began painting after the death of his wife to combat the loneliness. He worked with such fervent passion that he would paint on whatever he could lay his hands on, including this old ceramic jug that would have stood in his kitchen in St Ives.

Jennifer Lee, Enclosed form, slate, pale blue, deep olive , stoneware, 1982 (est. £3,000-5,000)
Contemporary ceramicist Jennifer Lee’s works are consciously sculptural, “concerned with a gradually evolving meditative process, the search for an essential, fundamental language for clay”3.

1 Chris Levine interviewed in The Guardian, August 2009
2 Obituary, The Times, 20 April 1993
3 David Whiting, 2009

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