The Wick - Discover Keith Haring Untitled (Dolphin)

Discover Keith Haring Untitled (Dolphin)

Tomorrow would have been Keith Haring’s 64th birthday. Known the world over for his visual language of bold figures and bright backdrops, Haring’s work started popping up on New York sidewalks in the 1980s and has been an irrepressible artistic force ever since, spawning a worldwide legacy. Having created his own iconography, Haring toyed with his collection of characters: angels, mermaids, dolphins and UFOs re-emerge time and time again.

Like his compatriot Jean-Michel Basquiat, Haring’s paintings brought the raw energy and playful colours of the street to the white walls of the gallery world. The two are inextricably linked in public imagination - when Basquiat died in 1988 at 27, Haring penned his obituary for Vogue, and paid homage to his fellow artist with the work A Pile of Crowns for Jean-Michel Basquiat. Friendship is not all they shared, as market prices for both oeuvres skyrocketed in the late eighties in an ironic defiance of the social commentary contained within their works.

Despite their childlike colour palate and shapes, Haring’s bold figures take a wry cartoonish eye to the darker social themes of the time, addressing drug abuse, exploitation, war, safe sexual practice and the AIDS epidemic. These themes spawned multiple public art campaigns (including his famous Crack is Wack mural) eventually setting up the Keith Haring Foundation to provide funding and imagery to AIDS organisations and children’s programs. Speaking on his mission statement of art for all, he said: “I don't think art is propaganda; it should be something that liberates the soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further. It celebrates humanity instead of manipulating it.”

The Wick - Discover Rana Begum, Catching Colour, 2022

Discover Rana Begum, Catching Colour, 2022

In a career that spans more than two decades, Rana Begum has made her name creating colourful, sensory works that blur the boundaries between sculpture, painting and architecture. Begum’s striking exploration of shifting colour, light and movement draws on the rhythms of minimalist abstraction as well as the geometric patterns from traditional Islamic art and architecture.

Catching Colour, a new outdoor sculpture created for London’s public art walk, The Line, features clouds of suspended coloured mesh that cast dancing shadows on the ground below. ‘I’m fascinated by the way natural light can change an artwork throughout the day,’ Begum has said. The large-scale installation is partly inspired by Begum’s childhood memories of the forms and reflections cast by fishing nets suspended over water in Bangladesh.
The Wick - Rony Plesl, Trees Grow from the Sky, 2022

Discover Rony Plesl, Trees Grow from the Sky, 2022

Czech artist Rony Plesl has explored the creative possibilities of glass for more than 40 years. His distinctive aesthetic is inspired by the rhythms of sacred geometry, the Italian Renaissance and the architectural opulence of the Baroque. Plesl comes to Venice with Trees Grow from the Sky, a new installation comprising four large-scale glass sculptures for the church of Santa Maria della Visitazione.

To create the site-specific work, Plesl has used a new technique for casting glass as if it were bronze. Erected vertically in the centre of the space are three pure crystal glass sculptures decorated with the imprint of an 80-year-old oak tree found in the woods of Northern Bohemia. The sculpture placed near the altar is made from glowing uranium glass and covered with bas-reliefs of the body of Christ.

‘The overall concept of the exhibition addresses questions of human existence and definition of humanity, touching upon the relation of man and nature, and its multiple layers of meaning,’ explains the artist. ‘The narrative revolves around a journey; around seeking our path in the world of today.’ It's not to be missed if you’re visiting the Biennale this week.
The Wick - Discover Fabergé's Hen Egg

Discover Fabergé’s Hen Egg

Few works of art are as famous as the celebrated series of 50 Fabergé Easter Eggs created for the Russian Imperial family from 1885 to 1916. These dazzling masterpieces, 43 of which are accounted for today, are widely considered the ultimate achievement of the renowned Russian jewellery house. Today, they are highly sought after by collectors around the world and command multi-million-dollar sums at auction.

The series began in 1885 when Tsar Alexander III of Russia commissioned Peter Carl Fabergé to create a jewelled egg as an Easter gift for his wife, Empress Maria Feodorovna. The result was the Hen Egg, which features an opaque white enamelled outer ‘shell’ that opens to reveal a yellow gold yolk. This in turn opens to reveal a golden hen sitting on golden straw.

Inside the hen was a miniature diamond replica of the Imperial crown and a precious ruby pendant, both of which are sadly now lost. The egg was meant to be a one-off gift, but the Tsarina was so entranced by it that her husband commissioned another the following year. This annual tradition was adopted by the Tsar’s son, Nicholas II, and would continue until the outbreak of the Russian Revolution in 1917. The historical Hen Egg is now housed in the Fabergé Museum in Saint Petersburg.
The Wick - Discover Shot Sage Blue Marilyn

Discover Shot Sage Blue Marilyn

Celebrated for its bright blue eyeshadow, yellow hair and red lips, Andy Warhol's Shot Sage Blue Marilyn (1964) is poised to become the most expensive 20th-century artwork ever to sell at auction. Coming to Christie’s in May with an estimate of around $200 million, the 40-square-inch silkscreen of Marilyn Monroe is based on a promotional photo from the actress’s 1953 film Niagara, and forms part of Warhol’s ‘Shot Marilyn’ series, so named after a fabled ‘art happening’ at Warhol’s Factory. In 1964 the performance artist Dorothy Podber walked into Warhol's studio and with a pistol shot a hole through four of the five Marilyn canvases. The present work remained unharmed.

Offered from the Thomas and Doris Ammann Foundation, it has been described as ‘the most significant 20th-century painting to come to auction in a generation.’ For Georg Frei, Chairman of the Board, Thomas and Doris Ammann Foundation, ‘the spectacular portrait isolates the person and the star: Marilyn the woman is gone; the terrible circumstances of her life and death are forgotten. All that remains is the enigmatic smile that links her to another mysterious smile of a distinguished lady, the Mona Lisa.’ This is blue-chip art at its finest. Paddles at the ready.
The Wick - Discover Hew Locke

Discover Hew Locke

Following in the footsteps of previous Tate Britain Commission artists including Heather Phillipson, Anthea Hamilton, Cerith Wyn Evans and Pablo Bronstein, this year British sculptor Hew Locke has taken over Tate Britain’s Duveen Gallery with an ambitious new project, ‘The Procession.’

Comprised of figures who travel through time and space, Locke’s installation expands on his interest in exploring the languages of colonial and post-colonial power, the development of cultural identities and how they are shaped by the powers of authority, as well as the passing of time. In ‘The Procession,’ Locke invites visitors to walk alongside characters who carry physical representation of culture and history, with evidence of global financial and violent colonial control embellished on their clothes and banners. Through colour and pattern, Locke also makes reference to various cultural traditions, presented alongside powerful images of some of the disappearing colonial architecture of Locke’s childhood in Guyana.

The 150 life-sized figures journeying through the centre of Tate Britain also offer a comment on the museum’s own colonialist ties — the founder, Henry Tate, was both an art lover and a sugar refining magnate. In this way, the installation combines the joy and colourful exuberance of a carnival-like procession, with the sombre mood of a funereal one with its references to a dark, colonial context.
The Wick - Suzanne Perlman, Reclining Nude, 1986

Discover Suzanne Perlman

Inspired by painters such as Paul Gauguin, Emil Nolde and Vincent van Gogh, Suzanne Perlman (1922-2020) is best known today for her vibrant colours, bold brushstrokes and varied subject matter. ‘I never paint with any specific tactic or goal,’ she once said. ‘I just paint because I cannot help it.’

Over the course of her six-decade career, the self-taught artist painted everything from landscapes and portraits to nudes and still lifes. Many of these show the life and people on Curaçao, the Dutch Caribbean Island where she lived with her husband, Henri Perlman, after fleeing Nazi persecution in Europe in 1940. After the death of her husband, Perlman flitted between New York and London, settling in the latter in 1990. She continued to paint well into her nineties, explaining that ‘each brushstroke allows me to express my feelings.’

Offered at auction for the first time on 23 March at Sotheby’s in London, Reclining Nude (1986) depicts a woman dozing during the day, her curvaceous form illuminated by the dappled sun. Caught off guard, she is blissfully unaware of our intrusion. As such, a sense of peaceful calm pervades the canvas. Painted in a palette of earthy hues, it exemplifies Perlman’s expressionist style and her skill at capturing the ‘fleeting moment of insight’.

In recent years, there’s been an uptick in interest in Perlman’s work. In 2018 she enjoyed her first major retrospective at the Dutch Centre in London, and in 2021 Nude with Surinamese Drapery (1972) sold at Sotheby’s for £44,100, more than 10 times the low estimate. With a high estimate of just £7,000, we expect this charming picture to fly. Happy bidding!
The Wick - David Hockney, Grand Canyon I, 2017

Discover David Hockney

David Hockney is one of few artists to have tackled the Grand Canyon. In 1982, in an effort, as he put it, to ‘photograph the unphotographable’ he produced a monumental photo-collage of the landmark comprising 60 images assembled in a grid. In the late Nineties, he returned to Arizona to capture the Grand Canyon in paint. ‘I wanted to paint it how I remembered it, with real colour and pigment, strong pure colour put right.’

The two resulting works, A Bigger Grand Canyon and A Closer Grand Canyon (both 1998), each feature 60 canvases executed in bright, Fauve-inspired hues. Since then, Hockney has returned to the Grand Canyon motif on numerous occasions. Grand Canyon I (2017), seen here, is one such brilliant example. Painted in reverse perspective on a hexagonal canvas, it exemplifies Hockney’s enduring interest in capturing three-dimensional space on the surface of a flat picture. The alluring canvas is currently on display for the first time in the UK as part of a new Hockney exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.
The Wick - Sonia Delaunay, Automne (Autumn), circa 1970

Discover Sonia Delaunay

Born Sarah Stern in Ukraine in 1885, Sonia Delaunay would go on to become a key figure in the Parisian avant-garde. She is best known today for her experimentations with bold colour and geometric patterns across a wide range of media. The abstract, cubist influenced painterly style which she co-developed with her husband Robert became known as Orphism. In Orphist artworks, starkly contrasting colours are juxtaposed to create a kind of visual vibration.

As well as being a painter, Sonia worked across the applied and decorative arts and in fashion. She designed fabrics for the Amsterdam luxury store Metz and Co and Liberty in London as well as costumes for the Ballets Russes. By the mid-1920s she had opened her own fashion house, selling clothes and accessories characterised by her signature approach to colour.

Long overshadowed by her artist husband, Sonia is now enjoying the well-earned recognition she deserves as a great pioneer of modernism.