Frank Bowling, R.A. (b. 1936)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more Born in Guyana in 1936, Frank Bowling moved to Britain in the 1950s, completing his education at the Royal College of Art in 1962, alongside David Hockney, R.B. Kitaj, Allen Jones and Derek Boshier. Initially working as a figurative painter, he moved towards abstraction after settling in New York in the late 1960s where he built a strong reputation and following. He received great support from Clement Greenberg, who visited his studio and became a friend and advocate of his abstract work. Fuelled also by a reckoning to incorporate black artists into the trajectory of Modernism, Bowling was forced to defend himself from stereotyped expectations of others: the St Lucian poet and watercolourist Derek Walcott ‘berated me for betraying the Caribbean spirit; if you weren't painting cane-cutters and suffering, you weren't a Caribbean artist. But everything I felt attached to was London-born’ (quoted in M. Jaggi, ‘Books: The Weight of Colour’, The Guardian, 24 February 2007). In this auction we are delighted to offer three paintings from three different series within Bowling’s career. Bottles, 1960 (lot 123), is an extremely rare early work that was painted while Bowling was still at the Royal College of Art. Discernibly representational in manner it is also unusual in that it is painted in oil paint, a medium that Bowling abandoned in 1964 when acrylic paint became readily available. Untitled, 1975 (lot 124), is a stunning example of one of Bowling’s ‘poured paintings’. He built a wooden platform to support his canvases that could be tilted, and he would then pour acrylic paint from up to 2 metres high, directly onto the canvas. Stylistically this series is more aligned with the practices of his Abstract Expressionist contemporaries who were working and exhibiting alongside him in New York. Turkey Wattles, 1980 (lot 125), is an early example from Bowling’s ‘post-poured’ phase. While he continued to pour and drip the paint onto a stained canvas, he became more interested in the effects created by the interplay of the different pigments. In this work he appears to have directly manipulated the paint surface and even scored into it in places with the back of a brush. Bowling continues to work between London and New York where he still maintains studios today. He is only recently beginning to receive the long overdue recognition he richly deserves. The curator Gilane Tawadros has said of Bowling's style ‘his experiments in paint in the 1960s, and since, were way ahead of their time. He paved the way for other artists for whom political and aesthetic considerations are not seen as separate’ (quoted in op. cit.). In 1987, the Tate Gallery made a Bowling painting their first acquisition by a living black British artist, and in 2005 Bowling was the first black artist to be elected to the Royal Academy of Arts. Tate Britain are holding the first major retrospective of Bowling’s work from May – August 2019.
Frank Bowling, R.A. (b. 1936)

Bottles

Details
Frank Bowling, R.A. (b. 1936)
Bottles
oil on canvas
36 x 24 in. (91.2 x 61.2 cm.)
Painted in 1960.
Provenance
Private collection, UK.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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