Important Collection of Francis Bacon Photographs at Bonhams

Photographs by Peter Stark

bacon-erez.jpg An important and extensive collection of photographs of the renowned artist, ‘Francis Bacon and his Circle’, shot by British photographer Peter Stark in the early 1970’s will be sold at Bonhams Vision 21 sale in Knightsbridge on Wednesday 24 October 2007.

The collection, estimated at £30,000-40,000, comprises ninety-two 35mm colour transparencies, mostly in ‘Camera Press’ slide mounts, fourteen gelatin silver prints and nine 36-exposure rolls of 35mm black and white film negatives cut-up into strips and sleeved. A manuscript letter, dated 30th November 2005, signed by the photographer, confirming his ownership of the ‘complete copyright of these shots’ as well as his ‘absolute right to transfer the copyright’ also accompanies this lot.

The photographer and poet Peter Stark (born 1943) was casually acquainted with many of the artists, writers and media personalities who formed a key part of the Soho scene in the late 1960’s. Around this time Stark met Francis Bacon, who was a fan of his poetry, and this meeting led to an opportnity to photograph the artist. The photographs in the sale were shot over a period of three weeks in the early 1970’s at the artist’s studio at Reece Mews, as well as at some of Bacon’s favourite haunts in and around Soho – The Colony Rooms, the Yorkminister Arms (affectionately known as ‘The French’) and ‘Wheelers’ fish restaurant. Also featured are many of the personalities central to Bacon’s social life, including Muriel Belcher, the owner of the Colony Rooms, who appears in several of Bacon’s portraits.

The artist later ordered five hundred prints from the collection and used two of the photographs as the basis for two self portraits, both painted in 1973. On Bacon’s death, many of these prints were found scattered on the floor of his studio.

‘The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B & Back Again)’byAndy Warhol (American, 1928-1987) will also be sold in the Vision 21 sale – estimated 2,000-3,000. The book documents Warhols thought on fame, love, art, beauty, time, work, life and death. The book is a first edition published in 1975. The book comes from the estate of Julia Gavula, cousin to Andy Warhol. Julia, or Ulia as she was known to her family who grew up in Butler, Pennsylvania. Her father and Warhol’s mother were siblings.

A signed ‘Campbell’s Soup’ drawing in ink is displayed on the title page dedicated ‘to Ulia’. It will be sold with a prayer card, from the Thomas P. Kunsak Funeral Home, from Warhol’s Memorial service and an invitation card for the artist’s Memorial Lunch, printed to one side with two of his iconic Marilyn images.

Warhol died on February 22nd, 1987 and his body was returned to his home town of Pittsburgh, Pensylvannia. An open-casket ceremony was held at Thomas P. Kunsak Funeral Home with Warhol attired in his customary platinum wig and sunglasses, lying in a solid bronze coffin with gold plated rails. As Warhol was a practicing Byzantine Rite Catholic, the funeral was held at the city’s Holy Ghost Byzantine Catholic Church, and the prayer card, that forms part of this particular lot, was printed with an eastern Christian image of St Michael, the archangel. A further memorial service followed at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York on April 1st, with fellow artist, Yoko Ono, being listed as one of the speakers. The memorial lunch was then held at The Diamond Horse Shoe.

Photographs of ‘Maidens in Waiting’ shot and signed in 1954 by photographer Bert Hardy (British, 1913-1995) will also be offered for sale sold depicting four Tiller Girls on Blackpool beach and seafront (£500 – 700). This lot will be sold with18 further images on two contact sheets, from the same shoot. This photograph has become one of the most iconic British images of the period. Its combination of youthful innocence and racy seaside exuberance captured a single moment of 1950’s post war optimism.

This image was the result of an assignment by Bert Hardy for the Picture Post. At the time the magazine was experiencing financial difficulties and decided to run a photographic competition to boost sales. The competition price was £10,000, an incredible sum for the time. Hardy was posted to Blackpool where he recruited four Tiller Girls from the North Pier Theatre to pose for the photographs. They were all shot on his box brownie on the seafront and beach, and it was this image that made the front cover of the magazine.

The sitters, Pat Wilson (in the spotted dress) and Betty Clark, were unaware of the growing status of the image. In 1987, coinciding with Hardy’s relaunch of the image, the Sunday Express endeavoured to track down the girls who were eventually reunited with the photographer on November 1st of the same year, when Hardy presented Betty Clark with the present lot. The accompanying eighteen images, include various perspectives of the famous photograph and also shots of the other two Tiller Girls, who were the sobrano and soubrette. The identity of the male sitter is unknown.

Also in the sale are Eleven unique Banksy works.

One of the works is a stencil spray paint on canvas is ‘Untitled, Rat and Sword’ –
£20,000 – 30,000. In August 2004, Bansky was in the news after designing and unveiling a six metre satirical bronze statue, protesting at the British Legal System. It was modelled as a modified version of the statue of Justice from the Old Bailey and depicted a sword wielding female figure in a state of undress with her robe revealing suspenders, a thong, a garter stuffed with American dollars and a blindfold. The statue was unveiled to a crowd of several hundred admirers at Clerkenwell Green, London. The location was significant as it once housed the largest courtroom in the country and also because Banksy had previously been arrested here. A statement was read out by popsinger MC Dynamite on Banksy’s behalf: “It’s the most honest depiction of British justice currently on display in the capital,” Banksy said. “I hope it stays there for good.”

Two days later, The three and a half tonne statue was removed two days later by a council a crane by the council for health and safety reasons. In the short time that it had stood in the square the sculptures sword had been removed by an admirer. When later Banksy reclaimed the statue from the council, footing the bill for its removal, he was also keen to retrieve the missing sword.

This lot was a gift to its previous owner in thanks for his assistance with the return of this sword. Not only is it a unique work, but with the inclusion of the sword in the stencil design, and the inscription to the rear, it represents both a highly personalised and humorous account of the above event.

A stencil spray paint and oil on canvas titled ‘Heavy Weaponry’, 2000 by Banksy

is estimated at £25,000-35,000. Incorporated into the image is an original ‘Metropolitan Police Evidence’ label attached to stretcher with a Banksy barcode stamp

This work was purchased in Shoreditch, London in the year 2000. The images available to purchase were stencilled on the walls of railway arch with a corresponding reference number, and prospective buyers were invited to e-mail orders to a hotmail account. Three months later the completed paintings were available to collect from a nearby bar with requests for payment to be made in cash.

A stencilled spray paint and oil on canvas titled ‘Avon and Somerset Constabulary’ by Banksy estimated at £60,000-80,000. Produced in 2000, this work is believed to be from an edition of two, each in a different colour.

More Banksy highlights include:

‘Balloon Girl’, 2003 by Banksy (British, born 1975)
Spray paint stencil on canvas – £20,000 – 30,000

‘Attack of the Badly Drawn Boy’, 2000 by Banksy
signed, oil on board with stencil spray paint – £20,000 – 30,000

Playmate of the Month’, 2000 by Banksy stencil signature, acrylic and marker pen on wood – £20,000 – 30,000

‘Horse on Steel’ by Banksy
spray paint and stencil on steel – £5,000 – 8,000

‘Di Faced Tenners’, 2004 by Banksy
signed and dated in ink, screenprint, double sided image – £5,000 – 7,000

‘Precision Bombing’, 2000 by Banksy
acrylic and stencilled spray paint on canvas – £10,000 – 15,000

Lenin on Rollerskates, 2003 by Banksy
spray paint stencil on canvas, in perspex frame – £20,000 – 30,000

In the furniture section highlights include :

A Ball chair by Eero Aarnio for Adelta – £1,200 – 1,500

A Malitte Sofa System by Roberto Sebastian Matta – £1,000 – 1,500

A Henrik Thor-Larsen for Thor-Larsen Design, an ‘Ovalia Egg’ Chair – £1,000 – 1,500

A ‘Djinn Series’ sofa and chair by Olivier Mourgue for Airborne International – £1,000 – 1,500

A purple chair is of particular interest as it is best known for being the model that appeared in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 Space Odyssey.

This sale also includes work by P Caulfield, J & D Chapman, P Doig, L Fontana, T Frost, Gilbert & George, A Gormley, D Hockney, A Micallef, J Opie, L Milroy amongst others.

Vision 21 is an innovative sale that delivers great design and diverse style and inspiration from 1945 to the present day. Conceived four years ago, Vision 21 encompasses Post War Paintings, Prints, Photographs, Sculpture and Modern Design. Bonhams in Knightsbridge has a long-held reputation for innovative ideas and, over the years, has introduced many new areas of collecting – such as Contemporary Ceramics and Rock and Pop Memorabilia, which have challenged traditional categories. The Vision 21 continues to attract a young fashionable crowd of both serious collectors, and those just looking to furnish a modern home.