Whenever I flirt in my head with the idea of moving back out of London – those property prices, never mind the cost of a good flat white! – something happens to make me cast the idea back out of my mind.
Take yesterday, for instance. Sarah and I had somehow escaped for a few hours from the necessity of doing anything other than simply hanging out, so a quick glance at the internet sent us off on the underground [Bank line to Euston and cross platforms] in search of Saville Row, still a focal point for tailors of taste but also, now, home to two of Hauser & Wirth’s London galleries and the smaller Ordovas gallery exactly opposite.
Hauser & Wirth are showing, here and at Picadilly, a selection of works from the collection of Reinhard Onnasch, whose fascination with American art blossomed when he opened his own gallery in New York shortly after the end of WW2. So what was magnificently on show here in the South Gallery in Saville Row were pieces by artists associated with Pop Art – some lovely little Richard Hamiltons, a marvellous and marvellously balanced two-piece Richard Serra, and a beautiful Rauschenberg combine – then in the North Gallery work from the New York School of the 1950s and 60s, including two fine Clyfford Still’s and two works each by Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland. Louis and Noland were leading figures in Colourfield painting, a softer-edged second-generation form of abstract expressionism that owed much to the work of Helen Frankenthaler. I’d only seen work by these two artists in reproduction before and it was wonderful to be able to stand in front of the pair of Morris Louis’s canvasses, especially, absorbing their beauty.
And as if that weren’t enough, across the street at Ordovas there’s a small show – ten pieces in all – linking the British painter Frank Auerbach with Rembrandt. That Auerbach admired and made drawings from Rembrandt is well-documented, but, for me, looking at the work of the two men displayed here side by side, I just couldn’t see the connection. No matter. Central here are three largish Auerbach landscapes, painted in the 1960s and showing Primrose Hill in different seasons, Spring, Summer, Winter. As a group, they’re very fine, and, of the three, Summer is quite superb. The kind of painting you can look at for hours, forever seeing something new.
London, thank you.