In November two prints were purchased for the National Football Museum’s art collection. They date from the 1920s – this is slightly earlier than our focus to find post-war to present day artworks, but the importance of the artists and the quality of the prints meant these were too good to miss out on!
The first print is a line-cut or line engraving by French artist Jean Cocteau (1889–1963). Jean Cocteau was a man of many talents: he was an artist, poet, writer, playwright, filmmaker and designer; and known as the ‘Frivolous Prince’ (the title of an anthology he published in the 1920s). Cocteau had many famous friends in his avante-garde circle, including the singer Edith Piaf, fashion designer Coco Chanel, and the artist Pablo Picasso – who designed sets for Cocteau’s ballet productions (see an illustrated letter from Picasso to Cocteau in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection here).Continue reading “Two 1920s prints: the Frivolous Prince and the War Artist.”→
Last month I attended a meeting in London with the other recipients of the Collecting Cultures grant money awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. It was great to hear how the other projects are coming along, and from those that have finished their projects too. We also heard about some of the interesting items purchased for various public museums and galleries across the UK – including couture clothes, photographs, diaries and a suffragette banner. Our host was the Cartoon Museum – a haven for British comic art situated in Bloomsbury. For their Collecting Cultures project, ‘Comic Creators’, the Cartoon Museum purchased this original pen, ink and watercolour on paper in 2016. It features a familiar footballing face – Roy of the Rovers by Mike White. This would be at home at the National Football Museum too!
Whilst in London, I managed to splosh my way through the rain to get to the Serpentine Sackler Gallery for the Rose Wylie exhibition, Quack Quack. My main interest in going was for the football-themed piece Yellow Strip (2006) – but when I got there I was really pleased to see another – Arsenal & Spurs (2006). There were also two paintings which featured cats, which I loved but I’m not here to talk about that…(I will include a photo later though!).
Yellow Strip is an oil and chalk on canvas, and features a line-up of Rooney, Crouch, Henri, Lehmann and Ronaldinho. The exhibition guide states:
‘Yellow Strip takes inspiration from football icons whose images proliferate the media. Wylie is interested in football’s position within popular culture and its shared iconography.’
I would love to know more about the inspiration behind the oil on canvas piece Arsenal & Spurs. The oil paint on this piece is so thick – it reminds me of a big birthday cake! It would be fantastic to interview Rose Wylie about the use of football in her art, and delve a little deeper.
Do go and see Quack Quack if you can – it is a thought provoking and fun exhibition in a beautiful setting, and is only on until 11th February – so be quack… I mean, QUICK!
As the 1953 ‘Football and the Fine Arts’ exhibition was the starting point for the Art of Football project, I have been going through our photocopies of the price list for exhibited works and the exhibition catalogue to see if I can find any of those listed for sale now.
A few months ago I came across the name K. Lek in the exhibition catalogue. I didn’t have any prior knowledge of this artist (shame on me!) – but as there is an image of the work in the catalogue, and the name might be uncommon enough to find online, I thought I would give this a go. The artwork in the exhibition catalogue is entitled ‘Off to the Match’, and is a wood engraving showing various male football fans.
I didn’t have to dig very deep to find Lek’s first name! A Google search for ‘K Lek artist’ immediately brought up results for Karel Lek. There was more to read about Karel’s history than I was perhaps expecting. Born in Antwerp in 1929, Karel came to live in North Wales after fleeing Belgium with his parents during the Second World War. Karel is an active artist, still producing work in North Wales. This meant that I could try to contact him and find out more about his life, his art, and if he knew the whereabouts of ‘Off to the Match’.
As part of my role as Art Research Officer at the National Football Museum, I keep up to date with upcoming auctions and private sales of any football artwork which might be relevant to the museum collection. Recently, a colour lithograph came up for auction – ‘Goal!’ by Clifford Fishwick, 1953. In a similar situation to the Peter L. Peri print we acquired previously (see this post), the museum does already have ‘Goal’ in the collection, but this is a loan. By purchasing one of these lithographs, this would become a permanent addition to the museum’s collection. So I put in a commission bid with the auction house – this meant the auctioneer could bid on my behalf up to a certain amount (works the same as an eBay maximum bid!).
Back in June, the Head of Collections and Exhibitions and I met with Dr Mike O’Mahony, the academic partner for the Art of Football project (University of Bristol). This was a great chance to meet Mike in person, hear about his teaching and research interests, and to discuss our ideas for the next steps of the project.
At this meeting I showed Mike some of the artworks I had found which are currently for sale, dating from the late 1930s right up to the 2000s. We discussed which of these would be good to pursue for purchase; how they could enhance the collection and how they could be used. Some of the items on the list were a group of 20th Century posters with various football imagery – one of these is a London Transport poster from 1958, and the others are Russian film posters and a Soviet sports propaganda poster.
The latter fall under two of Mike’s specialisms – Art in Russia and the Soviet Union, and the representation of sport and physical culture. As well as filling one of the gaps in our art collection for original prints/advertising ephemera, the artwork is also striking! And so, these posters were the first official purchase for the project, hooray! Here I am opening the packages on their arrival. Look at those designs and colours!
Following a bit of a break, a new Art Research Officer has been put in post for The Art of Football project. Hi! I will be working at the National Football Museum on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, looking at what art works are currently in the museum collection, identifying the gaps we hope to fill, researching what art works are currently for sale and those in upcoming auctions etc. I will be using the sale catalogue for the 1953 Football and Fine Arts competition as my starting point (not this delicate copy, I must add!).
Initially, I have been getting to know the rest of the team here at the National Football Museum, reading up on the project’s outline and progress so far and doing the slightly less glamorous, but highly important jobs such as setting up budget spreadsheets and project timelines. Continue reading “Getting the ball rolling again…”→
A selection of highlights from the National Football Museum’s surprising art collection have gone on display in Manchester for the first time.
Exhibited as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund Collecting Cultures project ‘The Art Of Football’, this small selection of highlights from the museum’s collection features a range of art that takes football as its inspiration.
A number of artworks displayed are from 1953; the same year L.S. Lowry’s iconic Going To The Match won the inaugural Football And Fine Arts competition arranged by The FA and the newly-formed Arts Council.