Little Big Mother sells as an iconic mural is demolished
Demolition work has begun on the 1960s Charles Hocking council housing block in west London which boasts the tallest mural painting in the UK. The 125ft mural, which has become a familiar sight to travellers on road, rail and aeroplane for miles around, is known as Big Mother and depicts a forlorn looking, spindly mother and child observing the construction of luxury flats all around.
It was painted four years ago from a crane by street artist, Stik, who wanted to promote the plight of the homeless having once been homeless himself. For four years he has kept a 3ft-high study for the mural, but, just days before the scheduled demolition, he offered it for sale at Christie’s to support the MyMural project which encourages council residents to curate art on their estates.
Stik’s work has only been selling at auction since 2016, but his popularity is increasing. This painted wood panel, which he calls Little Big Mother, was estimated at £15,000 but, perhaps boosted by benevolent intent, sold for a record £52,500.
Eddy Ilunga Kamuanga: a star in the ascent
The outstanding new star to emerge from Sotheby’s latest sale of African contemporary art is a 27-year-old artist from the Congo whose work was being sold by Charles Saatchi. The 2014 painting of a seated woman wearing fantastically coloured fabrics and an elaborate hairstyle was painted by Eddy Ilunga Kamuanga when he was just 23.
Entitled Mangbetu and measuring six-and-a-half foot square, it is from a series which the artist made of the ancient Mangbetu culture which is threatened with extinction.
Eddy Ilunga Kamuanga, Mangbetu, est. £8,000-12,000
The estimate of £8,000 was based loosely on what Saatchi paid for it in 2014. Since then, Kamuanga’s prices have been edging up. In 2016, the October gallery exhibited two paintings of his at the much visited Armory Show in New York and staged a solo exhibition for him in London which sold out with prices averaging about £12,000 each. But last week, Saatchi’s painting sold for £65,000.
Now there is a list of buyers queuing up for his latest work which will be unveiled at the October gallery next month. The gallery hasn’t seen the work yet and hasn’t set the prices, though they are unlikely to be as much as that auction record, it says.
Masterpiece welcomes Hauser & Wirth
Royal stargazers may catch a glimpse of Princess Eugenie at London’s Masterpiece fair this summer, not carousing the stands in search of something to buy, but manning the stand of her latest employer, the high-flying contemporary art gallery Hauser & Wirth, which will be making its first appearance as an exhibitor at the fair.
Hauser & Wirth, which has galleries in London, New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, is a big fish for Masterpiece to catch. Although it is established as a grade ‘A’ fair for antiquities, antique furniture, works of art and jewellery, Masterpiece has always been a bit thin on international modern and contemporary art.
Pablo Picasso, Les Dormeurs, 1965 CREDIT: COURTESY LANDAU FINE ART, MONTREAL, CANADA & MEGGEN, SWITZERLAND.
Also joining the ranks of exhibitors for the first time is Canada’s leading modern art dealer, Robert Landau, who will pull out a glittering array of works by Picasso, Modigliani and Henry Moore. Hauser & Wirth is not revealing what it will show yet.
But anyone who saw its stand at Frieze Masters last year when the BBC’s Civilisations co-presenter Mary Beard curated an exhibition embracing art purportedly from the Bronze Age to the present day, might hazard an informed guess.