Issue 48, Autumn 2016

Editor's Letter: Lucinda Bredin "Artists are a different species from the rest of mankind. I know that's stating the obvious, but I was reminded of this eternal truth when reading Martin Gayford's piece about the life and loves of Max Ernst. Here was a painter who married four times – one of his wives
was Peggy Guggenheim – and was at the inception of most of the major 20th-century artistic movements. I knew that he was at the starting gate with Dada and Surrealism; I didn't know he swung a bucket of paint over a canvas before Jackson Pollock. While curating an exhibition of female artists, Ernst chanced upon a young painter called Dorothea Tanning. It didn't take long before the pair shacked up together in Arizona. Two of the works that Ernst gave Tanning are being offered in New York's Modern and Impressionist Art sale in November and we can see that, despite changing women and continents, Ernst still felt an overwhelming urge to reinvent his work.

What artists get up to when they are not creating masterpieces has been much written about. In the case of British artists born between 1900 and 1970, the chances are that quite a chunk of downtime was spent at the Colony Room in Soho. On the face of it, this backroom in Dean Street didn't have much to recommend it. It was dingy, it smelt and the floor had an unnerving stickiness. But on the plus side, there was the chance to hear the acid repartee of Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and other characters, among them the club's indomitable owner Muriel Belcher. As a curtain-raiser to an exhibition of works from the collection of Pallant House Gallery by the artists who drank there – Peter Blake, Richard Hamilton and Michael Andrews were also habitués – Sophie Parkin takes us behind the scenes of the club where the only crime was to be boring.

It is often in straitened circumstances that artists reveal another aspect of their work. The film-maker, Andrey Tarkovsky, falls into this category with his revealing Polaroids taken of his family and friends while he was making his film, Nostalgia. It proved to be one of his last films and the photographs (an unlikely departure for him, as he had never taken a still picture before) reflect his rage against the dying of the light. These small masterpieces will be offered for sale in London in October.

Enjoy the issue."

Lucinda Bredin

  1. Andrey Tarkovsky (Russian, 1932-1986) A group of 10 Polaroid photographs 9.2 x 6.9cm (3 5/8 x 2 11/16in).

    Page 2

    Twilight zone

    The Russian film-maker Andrey Tarkovsky never took photographs – until he discovered the magic of Polaroids. Then, says Mark Le Fanu, he became addicted – and produced images that are luminous and revealing

    The films of the great Russian director Andrey Tarkovsky (1932-1986) are nothing if not pictorial. One thinks of epic scenes of battle and siege in Andrei Rublev (1966) or ...

  2. Page 4

    Surreal thing

    Artist in his 50s meets young female painter in her studio. It wasn't the easiest of romances – for one thing, Max Ernst was married. Martin Gayford describes what happened next

    In 1942, Max Ernst paid a visit to the New York studio of a young female artist – and was much struck by one of her pictures. It depicted the ...

  3. Page 6

    A nation accused

    The Dreyfus Affair inflamed France. Louis Begley investigates a lost confession from the man at the heart of the scandal

    There is nothing about the Dreyfus Affair that is straightforward, and nothing that is not heartbreaking. The story is well known. In December 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a French artillery officer of Jewish descent, and a trainee with the Army ...

  4. Page 14

    Dark art of Soho

    A hangout for dissipated artists, the Colony Room was brutal, witty and egalitarian, as Sophie Parkin explains. Now this bohemian home from home is celebrated at Bonhams in an exhibition of works drawn from the collection of Pallant House Gallery

    Not everybody who went to the Colony Room was an artist, but when in London all artists found themselves in ...

  5. Page 18

    My favourite room
    Charles Dance

    Charles Dance revels in the bohemian ambience of the Chelsea Arts Club, including its occasional excesses

    I first came to the Chelsea Arts Club some 30 years ago to be interviewed for a film role. I didn't get the part, but I did successfully apply for membership.

    The club is one of the oldest in London and it originally ...

  6. Page 22

    Famous grouse

    Tom Kemble, head chef at the Michelin-starred Bonhams Restaurant, welcomes back the nation's favourite game bird

    Grouse have always been the most prized game birds in Britain – and for very good reason. It is not just because they are incredibly hard to shoot, but also because of their wonderfully complex flavour of heather, which evolves during the brief shooting ...

  7. Page 30

    Love machines

    Robert White's collection of motor cars and machines is being offered at Bonhams. Jay Leno pays tribute to his friend and reveals a man for whom a beautifully made vehicle or watch was a lifelong delight

    Robert White is a guy who is hard to capture in words. He wasn't really about words so much as things, especially ...

  8. Page 32

    Inside Bonhams
    Modern British master

    After a sensational sale in June, Matthew Bradbury explains the surge of interest in Modern British art to Matthew Wilcox

    "This is, without doubt, the most exciting time," says Matthew Bradbury, Bonhams Director of Modern British and Irish Art. In May, Bradbury, who has been working at Bonhams for 19 years, presided over the department's most successful auction to ...

  9. Page 40

    Just deserts?

    The Barjeel Foundation is keen to reveal the rich contemporary art of the Middle East. And Sheikh Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi feels the world is ready to take notice, as he explains to Anna Brady

    "I'm not interested in buying works to lock up in my own home. I want to expose the artists to the outside world."

    No stereotypical ...

  10. Page 56

    Golden wonder

    The fabulous intricacy of Tibetan Buddhism – with its many deities and gurus – is well known in the West. Edward Wilkinson shows there is personality and artistry too

    Tibet has a rich and complex artistic heritage that spans 14 centuries, but images of the Buddha and the country's multitude of deities have only been widely known since the late 1950s ...

  11. Page 66

    Holland days

    Returning to Amsterdam, John McDonald recalls his first, life-changing encounter with the greats of European art

    "What about Amsterdam? What about Amsterdam?" intoned Captain Beefheart on his classic album, Safe As Milk. These lines kept running through my mind in 1981, as I landed for the first time on European soil. I was 20, freshly graduated from Sydney University. I ...

Related auctions