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Lot 361 - September 2012

Wilde, Gerald 1905-1986 British AR 'Whorls', 47 x 44 | Grand Auctions
Wilde, Gerald 1905-1986 British AR 'Whorls', 47 x 44 - Image 1 Wilde, Gerald 1905-1986 British AR 'Whorls', 47 x 44 - Image 2 Wilde, Gerald 1905-1986 British AR 'Whorls', 47 x 44 - Image 3 Wilde, Gerald 1905-1986 British AR 'Whorls', 47 x 44 - Image 4 Wilde, Gerald 1905-1986 British AR 'Whorls', 47 x 44 - Image 5 Wilde, Gerald 1905-1986 British AR 'Whorls', 47 x 44 - Image 6 Wilde, Gerald 1905-1986 British AR 'Whorls', 47 x 44 - Image 7 Wilde, Gerald 1905-1986 British AR 'Whorls', 47 x 44 - Image 8 Wilde, Gerald 1905-1986 British AR 'Whorls', 47 x 44 - Image 9 Wilde, Gerald 1905-1986 British AR 'Whorls', 47 x 44 - Image 10

Lot 361
Wilde, Gerald 1905-1986 British AR 'Whorls', 47 x 44

Auction: September 2012

Wilde, Gerald 1905-1986 British AR 'Whorls', 47 x 44.5 ins., (119 x 113 cms.), Oil on paper Laid on Board., Provenance: October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street, London WC1 - 13-11-86, Owner OG, The vendor of Whorls bought the painting at the sale of the collection of a remarkable man, Jose Ferez Kuri, the founder of the October Gallery. In 1979, TAP (The Theatre of All Possibilities) had opened an artspace in London, which is still in existence, known as the October Gallery. In 1984, F??_rez left Santa Fe to take over as its director. Among the artists to catch the Mexican's eclectic eye and be signed to the gallery were Burroughs and the one-time surrealist Brion Gysin. Amongst other leading artists, The October Gallery acquired the estate of Gerald Wilde. Kuri himself bought Whorls and kept it in his personal collection. 'Whorls' is almost certainly the most important painting by Gerald to come to the market for a long time. Gerald Wilde seemed to have all the right ingredients for success, born in London in 1905 and believed (wrongly) to be the son of Oscar Wilde, he was by curious coincidence put through art school by Lord and Lady Douglas, Oscar's Bosie! He studied at Chelsea Art College, and was taught by Graham Sutherland and Henry Moore, who became life-long friends and advocates. In 1941 he participated in the Cotton Board's exhibition Designs for Textiles by Twelve Fine Artists. Zika Ascher commissioned him in 1946 alongside Matisse, Derain, Sutherland, Henry Moore and others to produce Ascher's extraordinary fashion fabrics. One of his designs, printed on silk, was worn by Princess Elizabeth on the Royal Tour in 1947. His first solo exhibition in 1948 was held at the Hanover, one of London's very best galleries. The Institute of Contemporary Art held a major retrospective of his work in 1955. A man at the height of his powers, admired and championed by the likes of David Sylvester, Kenneth Clark and David Kenworthy, he seemed destined to become one of the leading painters in Twentieth Century Britain. Today, if it had not been for the work of the art historian Timothy Hilton and the prolonged efforts of London's October Gallery, his work would be unknown. Alas he was the creator of his own downfall in some ways, his relative obscurity is partly due to his drinking and behaviour. He was a member of the hard-drinking post-war Soho set and was almost certainly the inspiration for Joyce Cary's bohemian artist, Gully Jimson, in his novel The Horses Mouth, which was turned into a film with Alec Guinness in the lead. The paintings in the film were done by John Bratby, then at the height of his fame. During the second half of the 1950s Wilde went to St Ebba's Mental Hospital, where he was subjected to electric shock treatments, after which he abandoned painting for twenty years. Gerald was an eccentric outsider and did not conform to the mores of the establishment, which meant he was never promoted by a major gallery, neither was John Bratby for the same reason. Gerald was by his own admission, ''always an outsider''. He also did not ingratiate himself with galleries and dealers by selling his work for next to nothing to obtain some money to buy the demon drink or to give away to strangers in the pub. Also, much of his early work was lost in the blitz. Martin Harrison devoted four pages of the catalogue for the Barbican catalogue, Transition: The London Art Scene in the Fifties, to Wilde's work. He argued that, ''Wilde qualifies as a special case for many reasons, not least his work - which has been called Abstract Expressionism and Neo-Romantic - firmly resists classification. He remains, as he was in life, difficult to pin down''. For this he would be ''denied establishment recognition almost as much as was David Bomberg'' and characteristically he was ''omitted from 60 Paintings in '51, yet commissioned to supply the cover for the exhibition catalogue!'' (an exhibition organised by the Arts Council as part of the Fest

Estimate: £10,000 - £15,000

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