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The Collection of Lex Aitken and Alfredo Bouret Gonzalez (Lots 60-284)
Lex Aitken was born in 1930 in Melbourne, Australia. His family owned property in Victoria, which it was assumed he would later manage, however his calling was strongly towards the arts. He studied Fine Art and History, excelling in Sculpture which was, for a time, the direction he wished to pursue. Upon graduation the lure of travel became his focus and he set sail to Europe in 1950. He shared a cabin with Lois Hunter, the New Zealand author and poet, who was to become a lifelong friend. Hunter introduced Lex to many artists including Arthur Boyd, Brett Whiteley, Clement Meadmore and Michael Johnson, all of whom sought Lex’s counsel during stays in London.
Lex was welcomed into London society and through his keen eye, study and natural flair became a leading interior designer. When his early employer, Charles Howard, sold half his business to Lex in the mid 1950s, his course was set to be a leader in the field and he became highly sought after, not only for his creativity but also for his ability to source extraordinary art and furniture. In the early 1960s he opened his own eponymous business, Lex Aitken, at 84 Pimlico Road, London. Lex was known for his absolute integrity and his absolute discretion: when high fashion and design publications pursued him for access to his clients, to publish and promote his work, the answer was always a polite “no, thank you”. Lex Aitken’s clients and friends, including Lucian Freud, James Lees-Milne and Geoffrey Bennison, treasured his work, his finely-tuned aesthetic, his connoisseurship and his contagious enthusiasm for wonderful works of art, paintings and furniture.
Lex Aitken was a citizen of the world, having property in London, Mougins and Sydney and he travelled regularly keeping in touch with his wide circle of friends. His final home was in Watson’s Bay in Sydney, which he shared with his great friend of fifty-four years, the world -enowned fashion illustrator and designer, Alfredo Bouret Gonzalez. Alfredo designed for the reclusive genius Balenciaga and many of the great couture houses in Paris. Lex and Alfredo were generous supporters of galleries and institutions such as the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the RMIT University, Melbourne and the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney.
The works offered here were collected over many decades and cross many diverse cultures, creating fascinating juxtapositions – finely-sculpted neo-classical busts stand proudly in front of vibrant paintings of Burmese Temples by Gerard Kelly, playful Indian Court miniatures hang harmoniously beside colourful Chinese porcelain, and serene society portraits by George F. Watts and George Romney look out over fine French furniture. The result is an elegant, comfortable and relaxed home which demonstrates both Lex and Alfredo's effortless talent for harmoniously incorporating the array of cultures and styles they so admired.