By News Reporters
A Guyanese-born British artist who featured in Fitzrovia News in 2009 has finally gained commercial success after one of his “forgotten” paintings sold for £185,000 in New York.
The Telegraph reported on Monday that Frank Bowling’s painting Polish Rebecca which had been “rolled up and forgotten in a friend’s attic for 40 years, was sold at New York’s Armory Show for $275,000 (£185,000), far in excess of his auction record of £12,000.”
Bowling was featured in Fitzrovia News in December 2009 when he was represented by the Rollo Gallery in Cleveland Street. Fiona Green had written:
One time member of the Brit Pop Group, OBE, and first black Royal Academician, the modernist Frank Bowling first came to Britain, aged 20 in 1950 from (British) Guyana, later winning the silver prize for painting at the Royal College, in the same year Hockney took the gold. In London. He was omitted from inclusion in the Young Contemporaries in 1964, which had given his peers the crucial career boost. It was in this year, that I first met Frank, who was a more political man than his colleagues. In 1967 when Stokely Carmichael came to London to visit Malcolm X, Frank was in New York, but his work was admired by them.
Artists in 60s London tended to stick to a chosen milieu: either the pubs and clubs of Soho, or Chelsea or Notting Hill. Frank chose to move seamlessly between them all. His work was very bright and colour filled. The critic, Adrian Searle wrote that it was “clear the Caribbean has influenced his work; which in the middle period, featured maps of Guyana, South America and outlines of his mother’s shop.”
He was definitely one “to watch”- but it wasn’t till he went to New York, and attracted the attention of the critic Clement Greenberg, that he achieved real acclaim for his work, and he was bought by the prestigious Whitney Museum. 60s London simply wasn’t ready to claim a black painter as one of its own. Now the Rollo Gallery proudly represents him, and with a monograph by the critic, Mel Gooding, due out next year, pictures in the Tate Gallery and an invitation to be Artist in Residence at the National Gallery, Frank finally achieves long overdue prominence in the annals of British Art.
Excerpts from an interview with Frank Bowling directed by Rose Jones.
More at FrankBowling.com