It follows the Albemarle Street gallery’s appointment as a representative of the artist’s estate. The show is made up of a selection of works from the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust, many of which are going on public display for the first time.
“Despite our relationship with the trust being in its infancy, we have already enjoyed considerable success with Willie’s works,” says the gallery’s Jamie Anderson.
Barns-Graham, who is categorised typically with the St Ives artists, had a career spanning 60 years and her pieces are marked with a taste for experimentation and engagement with artistic schools beyond those of the UK.
Waterhouse & Dodd is keenly aware of the cachet that David Bowie’s ownership of Barns-Graham work could confer on the artist’s pieces.
At last year’s Sotheby’s day sale of the Bowie collection the gallery underbid on the Barns-Graham View of the Coast from Zennor, St Ives, while at the evening sale a record for the artist was set when her Glacier (Bone) took £106,250.
The gallery will hope to capitalise on that popularity and the general upward trend of mid-century British art in the upcoming show.
The exhibition encompasses multiple stages of Barns-Graham’s imagery.
Included among her early works is a 1940s watercolour, Minack Cliff Theatre, along with her rock form abstractions and gestural paintings of the 1950s and ‘60s. It includes her 1960s and ‘70s works in abstract forms and culminates with her later works, including her reconnection with nature and natural forms.
“What we have found interesting is that of all the works we have sold, only one has stayed in the UK,” Anderson adds.
“The majority has gone to collectors in the US, with another major work selling to a German collector. This is both a reflection of the international reach of our gallery, and also the growing interest in British abstraction among oversees collectors.”
The gallery is well placed to grab the attention of the international buying crowd that comes to London in the summer, with its central location as well as its involvement in the newly rebranded Mayfair Art Weekend.
“If you’re going to put on a major show, one of the best times to do it is in June,” Anderson says.
“It’s good to build shows around the auction season and school terms. Barns- Graham is a major estate and a big deal for us and having four walls is still important for a show of this quality.”