Issue 58, Spring 2019

Editor's Letter: Lucinda Bredin

"While we were putting together this issue, there was one theme that leapt off the page. This is an edition in which Rodin rubs shoulders with the Nigerian artist Demas Nwoko; Japanese printmakers of the 1920s with contemporary British painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. And yet, despite this diversity of artists and works, one of the threads they have in common is that they "found the future by looking into the past", as Jonathan Jones writes of Rodin on page 36. Rodin is regarded as the first modern sculptor, but that didn't mean that the artist rejected Classicism. Indeed, his critics (of whom there were many) only needed to visit the Louvre to see that Rodin had been inspired by Michelangelo's The Dying Slave, rediscovering the "rippling energy of the Renaissance", as Jonathan puts it. The result was Rodin's magnificent and controversial Age of Bronze, a work that astonished Paris, and a cast of which comes up at London's Impressionist and Modern Art sale. Sometimes one needs to look back to move forward. A group of Japanese printmakers – under the thumb of a young publisher, Shozaburo Watanabe – had been churning out reproductions that used every oriental cliché. What was needed was a dose of Western influence from the Impressionists, whose dynamic use of light and shadow the Japanese gratefully appropriated – in much the same way as Degas and Monet had borrowed from the East. A major collection of prints from these shin hanga artists (on offer in the Japanese Print sale in New York in March) shows how old Japan and the anxieties of the 20th century fused. As Matthew Wilcox writes, this wasn't "a floating world at all, but one that was sinking". Demas Nwoko (b.1935) also drew on his country's artistic traditions and synthesized them with European modernism. But this hardly begins to describe Nwoko's vivid painting The Bicyclists, which, as Ben Okri writes, displays a "versatile eclecticism, [which has been] distilled into a unique voice or tone". It deserves, he argues, to sit alongside Hopper's Nighthawks in the timeline of world art. The work will be displayed in London, before being offered by Bonhams in New York on 2 May, in our new US Africa Now Sale.
Enjoy the issue."

Lucinda Bredin

  1. VESALIUS, ANDREAS. 1514-1564.    De humani corporis fabrica libri septem.  Basel: Johannes Oporinus, June 1543.

    Page 4

    Slice of life

    When it comes to anatomy, Vesalius wrote the book. James Le Fanu dissects the Renaissance genius

    Andreas Vesalius casts the longest of shadows. Together with the physiologist William Harvey, discoverer of the circulation of the blood a century later, he laid the foundations of medicine as an intellectually rigorous discipline grounded in the 'methods' of Observation and Experiment. His De ...

  2. Page 8

    Figment of the imagination

    Lynette Yiadom-Boakye's portraits are so full of life it is hard to believe their subjects exist only on canvas, says Rachel Spence

    In an era when contemporary art is so often a dizzying circus of high-concept film, photography and installation, the art of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye reminds us that humanity and intimacy are still worthy of a place centre-stage. Her ...

  3. Page 12

    Prince of Persia

    Fath-Ali Shah understood that a glittering image was everything. William Dalrymple on the wasp-waisted, bejeweled and prodigiously bearded ruler who fathered 260 sons

    Fath-Ali Shah (1772-1834) – Persian King of Kings, Master of the Ages, Compass of the Universe and Shah of the Qajar Kingdom – was a man who liked to make an impression.

    On 21st March 1818, the British artist ...

  4. Ito Shinsui (1898-1972)  Showa era (1926-1989), 1928

    Page 14

    New kids on the block

    As Japan modernized at breakneck speed, a young entrepreneur persuaded artists to depict the country in a fresh way. But he was on borrowed time, says Matthew Wilcox

    In 1856, inspecting a crate of new porcelain arrived in Paris fresh from the Far East, the artist Félix Bracquemond happened to unfurl some of the crumpled paper cushioning the fragile ceramics ...

  5. Page 15

    Inside Bonhams
    The art of success

    Muys Snijders talks to Lucinda Bredin about the changes sweeping the auction world

    Something has obviously switched over the past few years," says Muys Snijders, Bonhams' new Head of Americas for Post-War & Contemporary Art. In June 2017, a work by Helen Frankenthaler sold for approaching a million dollars at Bonhams. In March 2018, one of Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Net ...

  6. Page 26

    My Favorite Room
    Juergen Teller

    Juergen Teller plucked up his courage, and descended the stairs into an Austrian paradise

    When did you first see the Tiroler Hut?
    I first discovered it about 20 years ago. It's a tiny hole in the wall, which leads down into the basement. For years, I was afraid to go down. Then I found my strength and discovered the ...

  7. Page 31

    Wine
    Great white

    Everyone knows Bordeaux produces masterful wine – far fewer know it produces white as well as red, says Bruce Palling

    any are surprised to learn that, a century ago, Bordeaux produced more white wines than red. But among the cognoscenti, it is known that Bordeaux produces some of the world's great white wines – rare examples of which are offered by ...

  8. Demas Nwoko (Nigerian, born 1935) Children on Cycles

    Page 33

    Cycle of life

    In 2018, a lost African masterpiece was found under a bed in Boston. Ben Okri welcomes a new entry to the history of world art

    It says something about the state of modern Nigerian art that its masterpieces are emerging from their neglected places, like archaeological discoveries. Last year it was Ben Enwonwu's Tutu, now famous as the 'African ...

  9. AUGUSTE RODIN (1840-1917) Age d'airain, petit modèle dit aussi 2ème réduction  64.5 cm (25 3/8in). high (Conceived between 1875 - 1877, this reduction from November 1904. This bronze version cast by the Alexis Rudier Foundry between 1935 - 1945.)

    Page 37

    Breaking the mold

    Rodin is known as the first modern sculptor. But his obsession was not to make things new – he found the future by looking into the past, says Jonathan Jones

    Until 1877, Auguste Rodin, the 37-year-old son of a police inspector, was regarded as a man whose career had been a craftsmanlike slog. But then he unveiled his sensational nude, The ...

  10. <b>1948 Tucker 48</b><br />Chassis no. 1028<br />Engine no. 335-35

    Page 41

    Always on my mind

    The birthplace of Elvis was also home to an exceptional motor car museum. Mark Beech admires the Tupelo Automobile Museum Collection

    The Holy Grail for many auction buyers is the sale of an entire collection from a single esteemed source. This is as true for classic cars as it is for visual art. It is even rarer for a whole ...

  11. Page 46

    Taking light

    Gallerist, novelist, photographer and aeronaut – the life of Nadar sounds like a Walter Mitty fantasy but, says Laura Paterson, it's all true

    Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, whose professional pseudonym was Nadar, was the first great portrait photographer. He was born in Paris in 1820 and, even before embarking on his illustrious career behind the camera, he had already made a name ...

  12. 1968 Ford GT40

    Page 55

    Road rage

    Revenge is a dish best served fast: Poppy McKenzie Smith describes the supercar born out of Ford and Ferrari's feud

    The Ford GT40 is a Le Manswinning supercar born out of one of motorsport's legendary grudges. In the early 1960s, Enzo Ferrari was in dire need of investment, so he engaged in serious and costly negotiations with Ford ...

  13. Page 60

    Travel
    The world of yesterday

    Lucinda Bredin explores a Vienna redolent of lost imperial glory.

    "We failed," wrote Stefan Zweig in 1942, "to see the writing on the wall in letters of fire." His haunting elegy, The World of Yesterday – a masterpiece of 20th-century literature – evokes fin-de-siècle Vienna with yearning. It was Zweig's vision of Vienna that Wes Anderson drew upon in his 2014 ...

  14. Page 80

    Best of British

    Bentley motor cars look timeless, but the company was once driven close to disaster. Celebrating the marque's centenary, Ed Wiseman tells the story

    Bentley has achieved many great things over its century as a manufacturer, but by far its most impressive claim is to have invented the supercar. Not the first racing car – that was a De Dion-Bouton in ...

  15. <b>1913 Mercer Type 35J "Raceabout"</b><br />Engine no. 1462

    Page 83

    Top brass

    Look past sepia-tinted notions of Brass Era motor cars, says
    Richard Holt, and you'll see a technological revolution

    As our era of driverless cars unfolds, people talk about times of unprecedented change. Maybe so, but imagine living at the dawn of the 20th century, when the world moved from horses to cars. It is hard to imagine a more ...

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