Contemporary Art with a Rock n'Roll edge!

Something Old, Something New...

August 27, 2018

Henri Matisse- Decorations Fruits

Something Old, Something New…

New clients are often surprised at the variety of works we have in the Gallery. How come we have vintage Matisse and Picasso lithographs, Street Art by Pure Evil and Shepard Fairey, Pop Art by Peter Blake and Sex Pistols artwork by Jamie Reid with abstract works by the likes of Iain Robertson and Willard Boepple? How come we hang them on the same wall and how in the hell do they look so good together, despite such glaring differences in age, technique, and theme?
Many of our regular clients are amazed at how stylish their walls at home end up looking. What’s more I’m often shown a room that has been curated with a selection of our pieces, and told how the rest of the house suddenly seems bland in comparison.

I’ll explore here what we believe to be some of the fundamentals of good curation, how to be brave with your choices, and how art in your home can go from being merely decorative to transformative.

The Art Hound are unashamedly varied in our choice of works. How we curate both our gallery walls and our clients homes is undoubtedly bold and to some perhaps unconventional but I would strongly disagree that we are “eclectic” in our choices.
Whilst our collection is sourced from all over the world, and though our contacts range from Berlin, to Paris, LA, San Francisco and Hong Kong there is at the core a very simple philosophy to how we choose works and how we curate a wall of art to look great in a home.

When asked to define our gallery in the press you’ll often see the the term “cutting edge” used.
To us this simply means art that was, or is, at its core “cool”, regardless of when it was created.
This means choosing work created by interesting and talented people who broke through preconceived boundaries, and were brave.

There is a certain indefinable attitude, a "Je ne sais quoi" which ties our collection together, so I can’t tell you exactly what it is that makes things work. However, I can offer a few interesting parallels which explain why we choose and match certain works together and which I hope will help to guide you when creating your own collection of art for your home. These examples are not meant to fit artists or genres into neat boxes, to cause offence or to invite glib comparison. These are just a few stories that show how and why brave cutting edge art has and always will be at the centre of what we do, whether it be from the 1910’s or the artists working with us today.

Pairing Figurative works from the 1940’s to today: 

Marc Chagall’s art was immediately a target from the Nazi campaigns against Modernism. Rebelling against all that could be suggested to be cubist, surrealist or abstract, the Nazi’s sought to establish realism and Chagall’s work was an extra affront to the new regime, describing it as “green, purple, and red Jews shooting out of the earth, fiddling on violins”. Chagall eventually escaped occupied France in the 1940’s heading to New York where he was heralded as an international star with a major retrospective at the MOMA.

Contemporary artist Basia Lautman left a bleak future in communist Poland in the 1970’s to train at St Martin’s School of Art in London. Since then she has been exhibited numerous times at The Royal Academy of Art. Her work embraces both her own witty world of fantastical creatures and her comical commentary on society through imaginative illustrations, etchings and paintings.

Try hanging one of Basia Lautman’s intimate drypoint etchings with bizarre figures such as “Running Away” from 2018 next to the colourful vintage Chagall lithograph “Le Coq Rouge”, printed by Mourlot Freres in 1957. Now were taking ‘quirky’ to a whole new level.

Pairing 60’s Pop Art with todays Urban Art:

Andy Warhol shocked and invigorated the art world in the 1960’s with his chaotic factory in New York and his unashamed depiction of commercial objects and celebrity culture in art. “Pop Art is for everyone” he said.
Pure Evil was so incensed by a low resolution jpeg image of Warhol’s Marilyn that he chanced upon in a Chinese sales email a few years ago, suggesting the printing out of posters as an alternative to original printmaking, that he dedicated the next phase of his career to creating the “Nightmare Series”; a suite of screen prints paying homage to Warhol were he alive and working today.
Now think Sunday B Morning Warhol “Diamond Dust Marilyn” and Pure Evil’s Jackie O: “Smiling Jackie, JFK’s Nightmare Colours” hung together: iconic women, bold graphic screenprinting, old school Hollywood glamour with an urban edge.

Pairing Modernist works with Contemporary Abstraction:

Henri Matisse was an innovative cutting edge dude. He experimented with new printmaking techniques, using stencils and bold graphic colours when in his eighties to create “cut outs”, because he was too sick to paint anymore and then collaborating with Mourlot Freres in Paris to create lithographs. Many consider these works some of his greatest creations and they have had a profound influence on contemporary artists, with a direct through line to the top abstract printmakers working today.
Let’s take a contemporary abstract screenprint by New York artist Willard Boepple, and we find an interesting parallel: ultra stylish and precise experimental printmaking by a man in his seventies, who happens to also suffer with a physical disability called Guillain-Barre syndrome, limiting his movement.
The shared disability or illness is of passing interest but what is really fascinating is the visual impact of hanging works by these two artists together.
Pair “Decoration Fruits” a lithograph by Matisse printed with Mourlot Freres between 1954 and 1958, with “29.11.17” by Willard Boepple, a screenprint printed with Kip Gresham in 2018. Frame them together in white box frames to match. Two brave, bold graphic works by modern thinking intelligent artists. Now were talking classic abstract art.

Pairing investment works for the Music fan

Sir Peter Blake is hailed as the "Godfather" of British Pop Art. His work invokes American 20th century pop culture as viewed through the lens of a British fan, whilst retaining a curious sense of ‘Englishness’ through a obsession with Victoriana and folk tradition. Blake used the term "Pop" to describe his art in parallel to pop music. He famously created the album artwork for The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and also produced artwork for Paul Weller, Oasis, Ian Drury, The Who and Band Aid. 

Terry Pastor is best known for his iconic album covers for David Bowie. He created both 1971’s Hunky Dory and 1972’s ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’. The artworks were originally shot in black and white, and then coloured by airbrush and hand tinting by Pastor. He has also produced album covers for the Beach Boys , The Sweet, Alex Harvey to name but a few.  Alongside his commercial illustration work Pastor is an acclaimed artist and painter. With exhibitions internationally, his work celebrates a love of Americana and embodies the very essence of Pop Art. 

Try pairing Peter Blake's Elvis "K is for King" screenprint with Terry Pastor's David Bowie: "Oh! You Pretty Things- Special 10 Edition (Blue and Purple)" limited edition digitally enhanced archival print and you'll be matching up music fandom with serious art investment.

Framing Your Works:

Framing your works well is one factor which is often overlooked. A contemporary handmade white or black oak box frame can lift a great piece and help us see it properly. An “eclectic” mixture of cheap and mismatched frames is one of my pet hates. Framing works to compliment the space and one another will make a huge difference to the overall aesthetic and tie things together, professional conservation framing will also protect your art from damage over time.

Lastly I would advise clients not to over think whether a work will fit in or not. Choose works you love, by cool artists, frame them well, and don’t be scared to rock the boat.
Owning works like these, often straight out of the Tate Gallery collection is a pretty good talking point and they will take on a new context in your home, whether it be a minimalist modern space or a country cottage. 

Works referenced in this article: 

Basia Lautman- Running Away

Marc Chagall- Le Coq Rouge

Andy Warhol/Sunday B Morning- Diamond Dust Marilyn

Pure Evil- Smiling Jackie-JFK'S Nightmare Colours

Henri Matisse- Decoration Fruits

Willard Boepple- 29.11.17

Peter Blake - K is for King

Terry Pastor -  Oh! You Pretty Things- Special 10 Edition (Blue and Purple)

Other artists referenced: 

Pablo Picasso

Shepard Fairey

Iain Robertson

Jamie Reid


By Tom Arnold

Director, The Art Hound Gallery

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