Christe's announces a significant posthumous project conceived by Dame Vivienne Westwood

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Christe's announces a significant posthumous project conceived by Dame Vivienne Westwood
THE BIG PICTURE – Vivienne’s Playing Cards, created by The Vivienne Foundation for Greenpeace (2024, estimate: £30,000-50,000). © Christie's Images Ltd 2024.

LONDON.- On the occasion of the birthday of Dame Vivienne Westwood, Christie’s announced a significant posthumous project conceived by the trailblazing British fashion designer and activist, to raise funds for Greenpeace.

Working with energy and impact until the end, one of Vivienne’s final acts was to sign 100 sheets of Hahnemühle Museum Etching paper, with the wish that ten of the most important graphics designed to highlight her messages as an activist would be printed onto these precious large-scale autographed ‘cards’ after her death. These limited-edition playing cards are now to be offered for sale, continuing the campaigning work Vivienne was so well known for. THE BIG PICTURE – Vivienne’s Playing Cards, created by The Vivienne Foundation for Greenpeace have been produced in a deluxe edition of ten portfolios, the first of which will be presented in a unique linen-covered hand-embroidered box, coming to auction at Christie’s on 25 June, with an estimate of £30,000-50,000.

Vivienne Westwood often used the format of playing cards in her campaigns and designs, and Vivienne’s Playing Cards for Climate Revolution were originally conceived in 2017. As Vivienne commented: “I want you to help me save the world, I can’t do it all on my own”. Using strong graphics, Vivienne designed a set of playing cards depicting a culture-led economic strategy to save the world. Together these told a powerful story as well as being a call to action, considering the part we can all play in shaping the future. It’s this powerful idea which was reimagined by Vivienne as a legacy project to follow her death, now presented in the limited-editions lovingly created in collaboration with Red Breast Editions, London.

John Sauven, former executive director, Greenpeace UK, comments: “Towards the end of 2022, I talked to Vivienne about how the works of art for her pack of playing cards, representing the pressing problems of our world with the mantra ‘Collect the cards. Connect the cards’, could be auctioned to fund the causes she supported. Vivienne was well known as a rebel for most of her life but rarely without a cause. For Vivienne, activism was her life. She didn’t compartmentalise it. Fashion here, campaigning there. In fact, she always said everything is connected. Fashion. Art. Education. Activism. And she managed to fuse it all together in extraordinary ways. Vivienne has left us the playing cards, an important work of art, that enables her ideas to live on in all of us.”

The Vivienne Foundation remarks: “Throughout her lifetime, Vivienne used her voice to lead a relentless fight for justice. Continuously highlighting the corruption in the world and trying her best to make the world a better place. It was Vivienne’s ambition prior to her death to raise a significant amount of money for Greenpeace to help them protect our rainforests and oceans and save the planet from climate change. Vivienne felt passionately driven to act when she learned about the Democratic Republic of Congo wanting to open up its precious rainforests for oil exploration and development. The Vivienne Foundation would like to express its thanks to John Sauven, Jeff Banks and all involved in this project for their work helping to realise Vivienne’s wishes. The Vivienne Foundation as the owner and custodian of Vivienne’s art work and copyrights is proud to be able to support such a historic collaboration between The Vivienne Foundation, Greenpeace and Christie's.”

Murray Macaulay, Head of Prints and Multiples Europe, Christie’s, adds: “Printmaking and environmental activism has a rich history. Vivienne Westwood’s THE BIG PICTURE – Vivienne’s Playing Cards is the late, great designer’s clarion cry for urgent action. Juxtaposing slogans with a cut and paste aesthetic, and characteristic wit, Vivienne’s Playing Cards have been beautifully translated into print from the original digital files by Red Breast Editions. In the tradition of the polemic of print, it is a powerful provocation to collectively step up to the challenges we face”.

The deluxe edition coming to auction comprises ten digital prints made from digital artworks by Vivienne Westwood, on Hahnemühle Museum Etching 350gsms paper, each signed by Vivienne Westwood in pencil, each stamp numbered I/X on the reverse, with the artist’s Monstrance insignia blindstamp, from the deluxe edition of 10. Printed by Red Breast Editions, London, loose (as issued) in a unique portfolio with a hand-embroidered cover, and protective slip case. 750 x 500 mm.

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