Last year I wrote a post about tracking down two pieces of art by Karel Lek, which were done in 1952. These were discovered to be still with the artist, after being in storage for over 60 years. The National Football Museum was able to purchase both of these as part of The Art of Football project and they have been framed and are now on display on level 1 of the museum – so come on down and see them if you can! Continue reading “Lek works go on display”
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! Continue reading “Quack Quack… 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…”