Trailblazer Frank Bowling leads Bonhams Modern British Art sale

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Trailblazer Frank Bowling leads Bonhams Modern British Art sale
Untitled by Sir Frank Bowling. Estimate: £100,000-150,000. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- The British painter Frank Bowling (b.1934) is the epitome of a trailblazer. In 1987 he was the first artist of Afro-Caribbean descent to have their work enter the Tate Collection and in 2005 he was elected the first black Royal Academician. A knighthood followed in 2020. His Untitled, an intriguing example of his famous ‘poured’ painting technique, is to be offered at Bonhams Modern British and Irish Art sale in London on Wednesday 21 June 2023. Seen in public for the first time since it was given by the artist to the present owner’s parents in the late 1970s, Untitled is estimated at £100,000-150,000.

Christopher Dawson, Head of Bonhams Modern British and Irish Art, said: “This fascinating work sparkles with interest. Bowling demonstrates his mastery of colour with a fusion of orange, yellow, pink and green, brought together with an assured command of flow, density and contrast across the canvas. The artist has adopted a horizontal composition rather than his more common vertical format and a sense of defined landscape emerges from his action-led process.”

Other highlights of the 69-lot sale include:

• Bullfrog by Lynn Chadwick (1914-2003). Conceived in 1951, Bullfrog dates from the ‘Geometry of Fear’ period of British sculpture (the phrase, coined by the art critic Herbert Read, refers to a group of sculptors, including Chadwick, whose combined works encapsulated the zeitgeist of 1950s’ Britain). A prime example of Chadwick's work of this short-lived but crucial period, it foreshadows several key elements of his later output. Estimate: £200,000-300,000. Bullfrog was acquired direct from the artist by the family of the current owner and is part of a private collection of works by Chadwick which also includes Standing Couple estimated at £60,000-80,000.

• Three Figures by L.S. Lowry (1887-1976). Dating from 1965, one of Lowry’s classical figure groups in oils, which the artist has painted on a striking blue ground. It is one of very few such ‘blue’ Lowrys and is estimated at £150,000-200,000.

• Sculpture by William Turnbull (1922-2012). The work dates from 1956 and derives from a series of columnar figures, idols and totems which the artist began in 1955. These were inspired by archaeological and anthropological artefacts, as well as religious statues and pre-classical forms of art. Free from contemporary influences, these totems can be interpreted as part of an examination of mankind's history of image-making.

• Summer Triptych by John Craxton (1922-2009). The figures of the boy, the girl and the goat were based on sketches Craxton made on the Greek island of Paros where he lived for many years. The girl with the scarf is Maria Mastropetros who later inspired a solo for Margot Fonteyn in Frederick Ashton’s 1951 ballet Daphnis and Chloë at Covent Garden for which Craxton executed the designs. Believed to have been painted in 1958, Summer Triptych is estimated at £80,000-120,000.

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