Antony Donaldson (b. 1939)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE LONDON COLLECTION
Antony Donaldson (b. 1939)

For Jim Clark

Antony Donaldson (b. 1939)
For Jim Clark
signed and dated 'ANTONY DONALDSON JUNE 1963' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas, in the artist's frame
60 x 60 in. (152.3 x 152.3 cm.)
Acquired direct from the artist in 2001.
Exhibition catalogue, Twenty Five Years: Three Decades of Contemporary Art, London, Juda Rowan Gallery, 1985, p. 199, no. 55, illustrated.
Lisbon, Belem Cultural Centre, The Pop '60s, Transatlantic Crossing, 1997, p. 161, no. 131, illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Antony Donaldson: First Works, published in association with Antony Donaldson - pictures from the sixties, London, Mayor Gallery, 1999, not numbered, illustrated.
Denmark, Arken Museum, Europop: a dialogue with the US, 1999, p. 50, illustrated.
M. Livingstone, exhibition catalogue, British Pop, Bilbao, Museo de Bellas Artes, 2005, p. 133, no. 31, illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Pop Art! 1956-1968, Rome, Scuderie del Quirinale, 2007 - 2008, illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Antony Donaldson: Take Five, Wolverhampton, Art Gallery, 2012, p. 19, illustrated.
London, Rowan Gallery, Christmas Exhibition, December 1963.
London, Juda Rowan Gallery, Twenty Five Years: Three Decades of Contemporary Art, September - October 1985, no. 55.
Lisbon, Belem Cultural Centre, The Pop '60s, Transatlantic Crossing, September - November 1997, no. 131.
Denmark, Arken Museum, Europop: a dialogue with the US, January - May 1999.
London, Mayor Gallery, Antony Donaldson - pictures from the sixties, September - October 1999, not numbered.
Bilbao, Museo de Bellas Artes, British Pop, October 2005 - February 2006, no. 31.
Rome, Scuderie del Quirinale, Pop Art! 1956-1968, October 2007 - January 2008.
Wolverhampton, Art Gallery, Antony Donaldson: Take Five, May - November 2012.
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.

Brought to you by

Anne Haasjes
Anne Haasjes

Lot Essay

William Porter and Angus Granlund from Christie's in conversation with Antony Donaldson, 6 October 2014.

CHRISTIE'S: What was London and its art scene like when you arrived in the late 1950s?

AD: I came to London in 1957, it was incredibly depressing. Rationing had just ended, there were virtually no restaurants, no life in the streets, there seemed to be no joy, it was a pretty dour place. A lot of people had been killed in the war, people who would have been 30 or 40 were just missing. The predominant influences on the art scene were Social Realism and Abstract Painting from New York. Not many of the older artists seemed to be trying new things except for Richard Hamilton and those at the ICA. I saw the This is Tomorrow show at the Whitechapel in 1956 but couldn’t get hold of it at all and I had no idea what they were getting at. It wasn’t until 3 or 4 years later that I began to understand what was happening.

CHRISTIE'S: Does that mean that aspirational images used for advertising became more powerful when set against the bleak backdrop of post-war Britain?

AD: I don’t know if it was more powerful, it just seemed to be more powerful. I thought that the only fresh images were coming out of America. In films and magazines.

CHRISTIE'S: When did Britain catch up with America?

AD: In 1960 or 1961, everything started to take off in London: theatre, cinema, music, writing and painting, the whole concept of what one could consider to be art. And then also the design of things, like for example in racing cars where Colin Chapman, Eric Broadley and John Cooper completely re-designed how a racing car should be. They put the engine in the centre and built a monocoque chassis. Suddenly rather than things happening miles away, in America or Italy, it was happening in England. Three of the four major motor racing teams were English. I mean it was the same explosion of engineering that had happened with the explosion in painting, fashion, photography or Rock and Roll.

CHRISTIE'S: You talk with great knowledge about motor racing of that period.

AD: I could be lying a bit. I just suddenly thought it was exactly the same thing happening with the engineers involved in racing, as was happening elsewhere. And I don’t think I have ever read this or seen anyone else relate it like that. But it was. The dates are the same. Britain won the World Championship in 1959 for the first time with a mid-engined British car.

CHRISTIE'S: Were you interested in motor racing as a young boy? Had your father been interested in it?

AD: Not really, no. My father was a fighter pilot who was killed in the war when I was 9 months old, before I was aware that I had a father. I was not really interested in motor racing at all then, although an uncle took me to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 1950. But later on at the Slade one of the things I really liked was to use racing cars as subject matter and I went to watch motor racing a lot. It seemed to me as though these cars were drawing in the landscape almost like a landscape painting. They were making lines of colour through the space and it was very moving.

CHRISTIE'S: In a way, it was from an aesthetic interest then?

AD: Yes I think so, but anyone who saw Jim Clark drive knew that he drove better than anyone you had ever seen. I mean that was just a fact. In a saloon car, or a sports car, Formula 2 and Formula 1. He was just better than anyone.

CHRISTIE'S: So you were very much taken by him as a man, rather than the sport?

AD: Oh yes, I think so. But the whole thing of Colin Chapman, who was the man who designed Lotus cars, turning how everything worked upside down. A completely new way of thinking about how cars should work. Colin Chapman and Jim Clark were a pretty phenomenal pair. My car paintings celebrated what they were doing.

CHRISTIE'S: So it was really just because he was such a goliath of the motor racing world?

AD: Yes, without doubt. But it was also what was around at the time. I was always interested in speed. Other artists were painting what was happening. Richard Hamilton was making images of the Space Race, so were Joe Tilson and Derek Boshier. People were excited by new things. It was a search for subject matter, new ways of paintings. Subject matter had seemed to change after the war.

CHRISTIE'S: In For Jim Clark you repeat the same image of Jim and his Lotus twice. This is a very interesting pictorial device that you employed in other works at this time.

AD: At Christmas 1962, I think, or just coming up to, I was painting a painting of three girls together. Halfway through I changed it to a painting of three images of the same girl. The composition became three identical images and it seemed to me to really work. In many technical ways the edge became more exciting because you saw the same image and the relationships differently. To put it simply most of the paintings of 1962 to 1963 repeat images across the surface. I never repeated girls on a vertical axis as it meant that they would be lying down. I liked the idea of the girls moving across as in a performance.

CHRISTIE'S: Perm (1962) appears to be the exception to the rule, although you depict a close-up of a female face rather than a nude.

AD: That came from the cinema. When we were kids cinemas had special children’s shows on a Saturday morning. You rushed to the front, and had this vast image above you. And occasionally the film stuck in the gate, and jolted. That is where that painting, and others, came from a memory of seeing the same image juddering between one position and another.

CHRISTIE'S: You were president of the Young Contemporaries in 1962 and showed at Bryan Robertson’s seminal 1964 exhibition The New Generation. What were these exhibitions like as platforms for emerging artists?

AD: There were very few galleries showing the work of young contemporary artists. There were the annual Young Contemporaries exhibition and the Arts Council organised a touring exhibition. They were very important. Each school, the Royal College, Royal Academy and Slade took it in turns to elect the president. The president and the secretary came from one of the schools and then the treasurer came from another. It worked like that. It was very organised, but virtually no money came in so we had to earn it through sponsorship, selling paintings and by selling tickets for music and talks. Peter Philips had been the president the year before me. It was very lively. It was the first time I thought that ‘New Figuration’, or what is now referred to as ‘Pop Art’, came about and was shown. That continued with the one that I was president of, and it was very successful. David Hockney had four very big paintings in it, including Grand Procession. What happened afterwards to the Young Contemporaries I don’t know? I think that The New Generation killed it emotionally because The New Generation was the same thing but more controlled, with sponsorship and someone else doing the work. Bryan Robertson did the first one in 1964 with twelve painters, followed by twelve sculptors the next year and then twelve mixed artists the year after that. Finally in 1968 there was one called Interim with one work from all the artists in the previous three shows. It seemed to me to take over the function of the Young Contemporaries. It was for artists who were right at the beginning of their career, a really good museum show, well put together with lots of PR. Bryan was brilliant at organising and getting things together. Bryan left the Whitechapel in 1968 and sadly there were no more of these shows.

CHRISTIE'S: The foundations of British Pop Art were laid in the 1950s and launched by these shows in the early 60s. Did you feel part of a fresh new movement at the time?

AD: No one did, I think. We all knew of each other. For myself at the time I thought more about what the French, with New Figuration, were doing rather than the Pop artists. I always thought New Figuration was a pretty good title because it was new and it was figurative. But Pop Art sounds good too.


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