Two vibrant contemporary & post-war art collections to be offered in Edinburgh

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Two vibrant contemporary & post-war art collections to be offered in Edinburgh
Edward Bawden, Covent Garden Flower Market. Linocut, 32/75, signed, inscribed and numbered in pencil to margin, with Willie Rodger Art Trust stamp, unframed 58.5 cm x 78.5 cm (23 in x 31 in) £1,200-1800 + fees. Photo: Lyon & Turnbull.

EDINBURGH.- Lyon & Turnbull’s forthcoming Contemporary & Post-War Art auction on 15th January in Edinburgh features two vibrant and charismatic collections of art and photography. The first a European collection of art and photography; the second includes select pieces from the personal collection of artist and mentor Willie Rodger RSA, RGI.

The first featured group, an interesting and considered collection of contemporary art and photography, was purchased for a traditional Amsterdam canal house, but then seamlessly transitioned to a new location, a contemporarily re-modelled Georgian flat in Edinburgh’s West End. As the collector moves again and life changes, the time has come for the collection to be dispersed, to new homes and enthusiasts.

Carly Shearer, Head of Sale, talks more “This personal collection of art and photography is an intensely revealing insight into the collector’s personality and taste: the collector’s visual eye, specific interests, even their humour and preferred colour – but most importantly their over-arching vision and exactly what they like. Exploring a collection is therefore a joyful experience, as by engaging with each individual work, we discover more about the collection as a whole and how all the different items within it interact and imbue each other with meaning.”

Joyfully put together, by someone with a keen and considered eye, the artworks were purchased from contemporary galleries across the world. Wide-ranging but coherent, there is a strong section of photography within the collection from striking visual feasts in monochromatic silver gelatin by Machial Botman and Miyako Ischiuchi, to depictions of musical and Hollywood idols – Bowie, Bono and two iconic views of Marilyn Monroe by Lawrence Schiller. The sleek, visual strength of these works is complemented by the black leather and chrome furniture from B&B Italia and Alias, a cool and fitting combination.

The true focal point of this collection is Gavin Turk’s striking ‘Holy Egg (Blue), 2015’ – a bold splash of colour in a fun yet iconic piece, visually striking but with many deeper meanings and interpretations. Around this constellate a selection of strong graphic work, both works on paper and artist’s prints, from Lichtenstein’s immediately recognisable cartoon strip lithographic triptych to less well-known names such as Tadao Cern’s humorous take on beach-goers, ‘Comfort Zone.’ The collector’s particular interest in the conceptual is also well-reflected, from the ‘Flash’ chair fix, a printed cardboard chair that was sold as one flat, perforated sheet, to be built by the buyer – a nod to contemporary spending habits in places like Ikea, but also an engagement with the notion of production – who is the maker here, the artist or the buyer, to Guy LeClef’s re-working of cardboard, newspaper and magazines into visually engaging works – ecologically-engaged art for our time.

Willie Rodger studied at Glasgow School of Art from 1948-52, and was a school art teacher until 1987 when he resigned to concentrate on his career as an artist. Lyon & Turnbull are delighted to offer a small group of works from his private collection within this auction, including pieces by Alan Davie, Edward Bawden, Seiko Kawachi and Carlo Rossi.

Rodger worked in a variety of media in a career which saw him design 11 stained glass windows (working collaboratively with John K Clark), a Scottish Post Office Aerogramme, a set of postage stamps for Scottish Devolution, the award-winning Scottish Historical Playing Cards (for the late Angus Ogilvy of The Stirling Gallery), book jackets and record sleeves, letterheads, logos and alphabets.

A gifted draughtsman, his drawing ability was already recognised whilst a student, and he always had a small sketchbook and a pen to hand. Having been dissuaded from painting whilst at Art School, he took it up several decades later after the late Angus McAuley of the Stenton Gallery prompted him to try his hand, and offered him a solo exhibition by way of encouragement.

It was as a relief printmaker, working most usually in lino and wood, that Rodger established himself. His status as one of Scotland’s pre-eminent printmakers was recognised by his peers in 1989 when he became the first person elected an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in the category of Printmaker.

During his long life he built a small collection of works by fellow artists. These included artists whom he knew personally; others, like Bawden, whom he regarded as personal heroes, and others for whom he was the source of inspiration. His acquisitions reflected places he knew, or addressed gardening and music, pastimes which filled his time away from family and art. Above all he knew what he liked, and acquired to reflect this, either by gift or exchange, or from exhibitions, dealers, or auction sales.

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