ERIC ESTORICK, who founded the Grosvenor Gallery in London in the early 1960s, is famously connected with the Italian Futurist movement and, indeed, works from his private collection now form the renowned Estorick Collection in Canonbury, London, which is widely considered to be the finest collection of such works outside Italy.
Perhaps less well known today is his deep-seated interest in the Avant-garde as a whole and the significant role he played in the 1960s in raising awareness of both Russian and Czech Avant-Garde and Nonconformist art. Although he was born in New York and moved to London after World War II, Estorick’s family roots nevertheless lay in Russia and it was perhaps this connection which led him to make no less than 14 visits to the Soviet Union between 1960 and 1964 as well as visiting Prague in 1965, with the aim of building bridges between East and West.
The fruit of these trips was a series of exhibitions of Russian art at the Grosvenor Gallery beginning in 1962 with Two Decades of Experiment in Russian Art, 1902-22 which was followed in 1964 by Aspects of Contemporary Soviet Art. On his Prague visit Estorick expanded his collection into Czech art, buying significantly from Emil Gutfreund, brother of the artist Otto. The Grosvenor Gallery featured Otto Gutfreund in several exhibitions in the following years and in June 1965 hosted the artist’s first solo exhibition outside of Czechoslovakia.