Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Thursday, March 09, 2017
Scarfe at Sotheby's
First Major Sale of Drawings By Cartoonist and Artist Gerald Scarfe
His Personal Collection
at Sotheby’s London, 5 April 2017
Pre-sale Public Exhibition, 1-4 April 2017
will have the opportunity to acquire their own piece of political and cultural
history in April, when over 130 drawings by the foremost caricaturist and cartoonist
of our age, Gerald Scarfe (b. 1936), will be offered for sale at Sotheby’s in
a tradition of uncompromising satire dating back to Hogarth and Gillray, Scarfe
has pushed the boundaries of caricature for more than five decades, delivering
provocative portraits of the foremost politicians and statesmen of our age,
from Winston Churchill to Theresa May. Together, they tell the history of over
half a century of political intrigue and seismic change.
no-holds-barred approach in his contributions for Private Eye and The New Yorker, and as The Sunday Times’
political cartoonist for more than 50 years, has secured him a place on the
list of the most 40 important newspaper journalists of the modern era.
many of the drawings included in the auction have been published, a number of
works included in the sale are unseen, revealing the most private views of the
Scarfe said: “I feel it’s
the duty of an artist to re-interpret the world and to freshen our stale vision,
making us see what we hadn’t realised was there. What I’m trying to do is
simply to bring out their essential characteristics. I find a particular
delight in taking the caricature as far as I can.
I have always drawn, ever since I could hold a pencil. As
a young child I was a chronic asthmatic and spent long periods bedridden either
at home or in hospital and I drew. Drawing became my way of communicating. It
became my way of exorcising my fears, and that still applies today.
My drawings are of course very personal acts made in the
privacy of my own home, but when they leave my hands they escape into hundreds
of thousands of copies and may be seen by millions of people. I don’t think
about that when I make the drawing – it’s just between my imagination and that
piece of paper – but if a drawing is particularly ferocious or overtly sexual
and someone looks at it in my presence I have to admit to sometimes feeling
shy; I feel so personally about it it’s almost like undressing in public. To me
these are not only drawings, they are memories, and mark particular moments in
royal family and countless celebrities have not escaped Scarfe’s pen, with
portraits of the Queen, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, David Beckham and
Mick Jagger accompanying over 70 political caricatures in this sale.
star lot is a historic drawing of Winston Churchill showing the elderly
statesman’s final appearance in the House of Commons in 1964. Scarfe had been
commissioned by The Times
to record the occasion, but his image was deemed too controversial to publish.
In the artist’s own words ‘…The
Times refused to print my drawing, saying that Churchill’s wife, Clementine,
would be upset when the paper dropped through the letter-box in the morning.’
Less than six months later Churchill was dead, and the image appeared on Private Eye’s cover. Until
recently, the drawing has been on exhibition at Portcullis House, House of
are also examples of Gerald Scarfe’s film work for Disney’s Hercules, for which he was
the external design consultant, and for Pink Floyd the Wall - a project that
Scarfe happened upon by chance when members of the band saw his work on
television and decided “We’ve got to work with this guy, he’s f***ing mad”.
Their long-term, highly-acclaimed collaboration on stage shows, album and
subsequent film continues to the present day.
the sale also reveals Scarfe’s theatre work. A serendipitous meeting with
director Sir Peter Hall led to an invitation for him to work on a musical, two
West End farces and a production of The
Magic Flute for Los Angeles opera. Works showing illustrations for The Nutcracker, Fantastic Mr Fox
and The Magic Flute
are all included in the sale.
Philip W. Errington, Sotheby’s Specialist in Books and Manuscripts said: “Over the past months, spent working
alongside Gerald preparing for this sale, I’ve been struck by his consummate
skill and artistry. Sometimes he treats his subjects with gentle amusement, at
other times he presents a full-blown, biting critique. These drawings pack a
significant punch. The works selected range from Disney to Pink Floyd, from
Thatcher to May, Reagan to Obama, and Yes Minister to The Magic Flute. There is
truly an eclectic mix, spanning his entire half-century career. The sharp,
steel-nib of our greatest living caricaturist demonstrates time and time again
his pedigree with Hogarth, Cruikshank and Gillray.”