MILLINGTON-DRAKE, Teddy

Teddy Millington-Drake - Composition 1962
ARTIST BIOGRAPHY

Teddy Millington-Drake (1932-1994) was born to a diplomat father and spent much of his childhood travelling. He attended Eton, studying art under Wilfred Blunt, and Oxford before living and painting in Venice and then Patmos, Greece. Millington-Drake in the 1960s worked in an abstract style apparently influenced by Jung, but achieved most fame as a watercolour landscape painter.

India and the Middle East were favourite subjects and destinations. He showed widely in London and New York, notably at Lefevre and Eyre & Hobhouse.


ORGAN, Bryan

Bryan Organ - untitled
ARTIST BIOGRAPHY

Bryan Organ (1935-) was born in Leicester and studied at Loughborough College of Art 1952-5, then the Royal Academy Schools 1955-9. His first one-man show was at Leicester Museum and Art Gallery in 1959 but from 1967 he had a series of solo exhibitions at Redfern Gallery, London. He also had solo shows in New York, Cologne, Sao Paulo and Turin.

Organ became known as a fine wildlife artist and a notable portrait painter – his painting of Diana Princess of Wales, in particular, was highly regarded. His work is in many public collections in Britain and elsewhere, including the Tate Gallery, National Portrait Gallery and Whitworth Art Gallery Manchester.


OTTESEN, Frederik Lund

Frederick Lund Ottesen - abstract gouache
ARTIST BIOGRAPHY

Frederik Lund Ottesen (1913-1975) was born in the United States and studied at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art before joining Braque’s Atelier in Paris in 1938. He exhibited at the Galerie des Quatre Chemins and, after war service, returned to Paris. He became friends with Hans Hartung and, influenced by him, turned to abstraction and showed extensively throughout Europe in the 1950s and 1960s.

He was affiliated with the prestigious Galerie Coard in Paris and Downtown Gallery in New York and had a first UK solo show at the Leicester Galleries, London in 1966. He also showed at Blomquist Gallery, Oslo and Galeries Tedesco and Quatre Chemins in Paris. Ottesen’s work is held by Syracuse Gallery, USA and Musee National d’ Arte Modern in Paris.


SAUTER, Rudolf

Rudolf Sauter - Study in Space
ARTIST BIOGRAPHY

Rudolf Helmut Sauter (1895-1977), often known as R H Sauter, was a painter, printmaker, illustrator and poet, son of the artist George Sauter. He was educated at Harrow School, studying art in London and Munich, his father having come from Bavaria. Sauter had strong literary interests, being a member of the writers’ club PEN; he illustrated a definitive edition of works by his uncle John Galsworthy.

Sauter showed at the Royal Academy, the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour, the Pastel Society, in the provinces, at the Paris Salon where he gained an Hon. Mention, and widely in the United States. He also had one-man shows in London and New York.

Although Sauter’s work is mainly figurative, in later life he did a series of abstracts. Many of Sauter’s paintings were destroyed by a fire in the 1980s but the National Portrait Gallery, Government Art Collection, Royal Watercolour Association and Ferens Art Gallery in Hull hold his work. Cornelia Parker chose a 1935 Sauter portrait as part of her hang of the Government Art Collection at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 2011.


SCHETTINI, Ulrico

Ulrico Schetttini - Torso 4
ARTIST BIOGRAPHY

Ulrico Schettini (1932-) was born in Cosenza, in the Italian Marches. After studying art at Pesaro, Paris and Rome he settled in England in 1958. An academically-inclined artist, during the 1960s and early 1970s he lectured at Hull College of Arts and Crafts, Carlisle College of Art and Design, Hornsea College of Art, the City Literary Institute and King’ College London. He worked in New York in 1964 and from 1966-71 lectured annually in America under the auspices of the Association of American Colleges.

Schettini’s early work was fiercely modernist, being “emotionally powerful” and displaying a chromatic austerity that “blends a basic outline of form with a free graphic improvisation within that form” (Art News and Review Jan 1959). Critics at the time equated his art with modern jazz movements. From the mid-1960s Schettini began producing more figurative work, in a strong expressive, dark style.

Schettini first solo exhibition was at the experimental New Vision Gallery in London in 1958, followed by one in Newcastle. He then exhibited in London at the Drian Gallery in 1959 and the Institute for Contemporary Art in 1961. He had group shows in London, Paris and Milan and then had a major retrospective exhibition at the Municipal Art Gallery, Hull in 1966 which attracted international attention.

About this time, though, despite the acclaim, he destroyed many works and disappeared to Italy to find himself again as an artist. He took ‘Montefiore’ as his professional name in homage to two potters he worked with there. A large exhibition of his subsequent work, which now included many ancient and archaeological influences, was given at the Café Royal, London in 1972 and a still more important exhibition at the Palazzo della Permanente, Milan in 1974. Wildensteins in New York also sold his work.

Montefiore moved back to Italy in the 1970s and continues to exhibit there. His work underwent another dramatic shift in the 1980s. He turned to a wider variety of media – he is currently working on stained glass, metals and ceramics as well as painting – and shifted entirely to representational art. The main motive behind this was religious and he now mainly concentrates on large-scale commissions for Catholic institutions in Peru, Spain and Italy. He taught at the Academy of Fine Arts at Brera, Milan.

Schettini’s work is held by Northwestern College, Orange City in Indiana and California University of Pennsylvania, South Australia House, London and other public collections.


SMITH, Jack

Jack Smith - Fractured (to the left of pink)
ARTIST BIOGRAPHY

Jack Smith (1928-2011) was born in Sheffield, before studying at St Martin’s School of Art 1948-50, Royal College of Art 1950-3 and then settling in London. He showed at Beaux Arts from 1953, initially painting in a neo-realist ‘Kitchen Sink’ style. But from the mid-1950s he became more interested in the play of light on shapes and eventually became a meticulous abstractionist.

Smith taught at various colleges and in 1956 won first prize at the John Moores Liverpool Exhibition, by which time he was also showing in the United States.

Major exhibitions included retrospectives at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1959 and Serpentine Gallery 1978. In more recent years Smith was represented by Flowers East Gallery in London.

The Tate Gallery, Arts Council, British Council and many provincial and foreign galleries hold his work.


SPENDER, Humphrey

ARTIST BIOGRAPHY

Humphrey Spender (1910-2005), brother of poet Stephen Spender, was a designer and renowned photographer on Mass Observation as well as an accomplished artist. London-born but based in New Malden in Essex in later years, Spender initially trained as an architect before turning to photography, design and art. He said he hoped that his paintings, many powerful but impressionistic depictions of marshlands and rivers in Essex, “might make people see differently”.

As well as numerous mixed shows, Spender had solo painting exhibitions at the Redfern, Leicester Galleries and New Art Centre in London and at many provincial venues. Tate Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum, Government Art Collection, British Council and many provincial galleries hold his work.


STURGESS-LIEF, Christopher

Christopher Sturgess-Lief- The Moon of Thoth with Black Hole

ARTIST BIOGRAPHY

Chris Sturgess-Lief (1937-2011) was a self-taught painter who created evocative and poetic pictures using a highly individual private symbolism. Adopted as a baby, possibly from ethnic German parents in the Soviet Union, Sturgess-Lief was schooled at Sherborne, Dorset.

After army service in Malaya, he then moved to London and began showing on the Hyde Park railings in the early 1960s. He was spotted by Victor Musgrave of Gallery One, who gave Sturgess-Lief a solo show in 1962. He also exhibited at Rye Art gallery in 1969 and took part in mixed shows at New Vision Centre, Leicester Galleries, Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol in 1963 and others in Japan and the United States.

His Red Painting was included in the Belgrave Gallery’s 1992 show British abstract art of the 1950s and 60s, and in 1997 Julian Hartnoll in St James’ put on a solo exhibition of his work.  A contemporary of the highly sought after Martin Bradley and Alan Davie, his work is comparable both in terms of style and quality.


TIRR, Willy

Willy Tirr - untitled
ARTIST BIOGRAPHY

Willy Tirr (1915-1991) was born to German Jewish parents in Berlin and fled to England as war loomed. Self-taught as an artist, Tirr was interned in the UK and Australia before service in the British Army in intelligence. He was part of the unit that liberated Bergen-Belsen and was involved in the de-Nazification programme in Germany after the war.

On his return to England in 1947 he married and moved to Leeds, where his parents had found refuge. Tirr had continued to paint during the war, even having an exhibition in Normandy before the end of hostilities, but helped his family in a lamp-shade business to help make ends meet.

By the early 1950s Tirr’s expressionistic landscapes were giving way to a purer abstract style, influenced by the St Ives group in England but also American Abstract Expressionism, Taschism and Zen Buddhism.

Tirr started teaching at Leeds College of Art in 1957 and that same year had a joint exhibition at Austin Hayes Gallery in York with Terry Frost.

His reputation as an innovative modern artist grew and Tirr from 1957-1973 had solo shows in London in New Vision, Drian, AIA, Rowan, Ben Uri and Grabowski galleries amongst others. Other one-man shows were held in Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and many other Northern cities and in Switzerland, Australia and Canada.

Tirr ran what became Leeds Polytechnic School of Art in a turbulent period in the late 1960s and 1970s; he was then best known for his shaped canvases and watercolours, but his acrylics on canvas were particularly powerful.

Inner turmoil and European sensibilities combined to give his work a depth that marks him out as one of the finest abstract and expressionist painters in Britain from the 1950s to the 1970s. His work is held in many British public collections, though mainly in the North, and in public galleries in Australia and Israel.


WADSWORTH, Freda

Freda Wadsworth - untitled

ARTIST BIOGRAPHY

Freda Wadsworth (1918-2003) studied at Brighton School of Art from 1936-39 but during the war years served as a volunteer nurse. At the war’s end she combined these two disciplines by training as a medical artist, and after various hospital appointments became the artist at the postgraduate Institute of Urology, University of London.

The profession at this time was in its early days and the work was innovative, requiring a wide range of techniques and a detailed knowledge of anatomy. In 1968 she was elected Fellow of the Medical Artists Association. She later developed a technique of film animation using plasticene models for the clarification of surgical procedures and in 1979 was awarded an MBE for services to medicine.

From 1979 onwards she made a complete break with representational work and developed a unique technique using gouache suitable for expressing a continuing fascination with geometrical forms. In 1984 she was elected Fellow of the Free Painters and Sculptors.

Her abstracts were shown at the Barbican, Mall Galleries, Bloomsbury Galleries, and four one-person exhibitions at the Loggia Gallery. Roy Rasmussen, president of the Society of Free Painters and Sculptors said “Freda Wadsworth’s paintings were superficially abstract, but conveyed other meanings, the references being sometimes in the titles. Using a painstaking technique they had luminosity and evoked medieval times and a world of secret symbols, and yet were undeniably modern paintings. There was a mystery in them, which was part of the artist’s intention. They were flights of the imagination, with a challenge to interpret them.”

Her work was part of the Manhattan collection of women artists accumulated by influential feminist painter Sylvia Sleigh (wife of art critic Lawrence Alloway). This collection was bequeathed to the Rowan University Art Gallery, New Jersey and key works, including a 1990 gouache by Wadsworth, were shown in the 2011 exhibition ‘Groundbreaking’.