It’s London Art Week and this is their first winter event. There are 30 Gallery members who host events and shows, plus it coincides with the winter auctions. Courtesy of my friend Philly, one of the organisers, I had a night on the town.
We start with Agnews, where I am introduced to the work of Lotte Laserstein. Lotte was a Jewish artist, living in Berlin, who devoted herself to her art from an early age. She had to flee Berlin in 1937; her sister went into hiding, and her mother died in Ravensbrück in 1943. Her early work in Berlin features her favourite model, Traute, and is striking.
In Sweden she found another model Madeleine, but on the whole had to paint to live so her oeuvre changed from figurative females to landscape and still-life. Agnews themed the show around the female portraits , and we are lucky to have a guided tour by Laserstein-expert Dr Anna-Carole Krausse. Chatting to her about Berlin in the 1920s, I wondered if she and my grandfather Hermann Ungar, playwrite and diplomat, had crossed paths. They most certainly knew people in common, like Brecht and other writers and artists.
From there we wander past Christie’s, where an auction is in full swing and then to Stephen Ongpin & Guy Peppiat’s Christmas party where I down a swift rum and ginger cocktail, nab a sausage or two, and munch a most delicious truffle. The pictures here are mostly small drawings and watercolours, surprisingly reasonably priced, ranging between £500 to £15,000. Not my taste on the whole, however.
Hanging out with these guys….(life-size!)
From there to Colnaghi, very fancy, people in party frocks swigging delicious champagne. Being Spanish, the Iberico jamon was a treat. The art was a bit weird however…life-size religious sculptures and a ghoulish John the Baptist head on a plate…
Philly and I remark on the relative youth of all the gallerists we had encountered that evening – it makes us feel really old!
A few days later and I am invited to Colefax & Fowler’s new shop to see how art and furniture can work well together. One of Art First’s artists, Jack Milroy, has two pieces here (and are much admired by the party goers – yes more champagne, more sausages, more truffley things and very fine mince pies).
A few old friends appear unexpectedly and I chat to them and a couple of the younger artists. A pleasant way to spend a cold winter’s evening.