Editor's Letter: Lucinda Bredin "Many of the artworks and objects in this issue were produced during tumultuous times. You might ask when has an era not been strapped to a rollercoaster? Fair point, but some of the works in this season's sales can be traced to specific moments during grim times – whether in the Second World War or the dark days of the 1970s in Britain.
Take the case of Günther Uecker. When it comes to working with specific materials, Uecker has made the nail his own. Two examples of his work – from 1958 and 1962 – will be offered in February's Post-War and Contemporary Art sale in New Bond Street. On page 30, the writer and curator Francesca Gavin points to the episode in his life that caused Uecker to channel his artwork through this humble but essential piece of ironmongery. The story goes that during the war, as the Russians advanced, the artist, then a boy, nailed up every door and every window of the family home to prevent the approaching army from entering. Ever since, his nail landscapes – it is thought he has used more than 100 tonnes of nails to date – have become a force field of angst and beauty.
Another work that evokes the past – in this case Britain in the 1970s – is Bhupen Khakhar's Man in Pub. The painting depicts a far-off world of English boozers where bad beer was drunk against a backdrop of dreadful wallpaper, places that have all but vanished. The novelist Amit Chaudhuri, who like Khakhar comes from Bombay, writes about how this work exudes the sense of alienation and feeling of being cold-shouldered that Khakhar experienced when he first arrived in England.
Paul Manship's sculpture Diana, from 1921, is also a witness to its age: the booming economy of the Roaring Twenties, when skyscrapers were soaring in the New York landscape. As Alastair Smart writes on page 44, Manship was the go-to guy for sculptural commissions in New York during that time – his most famous work is Prometheus at the Rockefeller Centre. Although overlooked during the era of big abstract sculptures, Manship's work has now come to be regarded by connoisseurs as exemplary for its craftmanship.
Finally, we celebrate two pioneers: Eric 'Winkle' Brown, described by the author James Holland as the greatest ever British aviator, and Maureen O'Hara, the Hollywood queen of Technicolour. In these pages, you can read all about their lives and legacies.
Enjoy the issue."