Gurr Johns News


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Visitors are set to flock to Venice next week for the 58th edition of the Biennale, known as the Olympics of the art world, which opens officially on 11 May.

Of the 90 national pavilions, new additions this year come from Algeria, Ghana, Madagascar, Malaysia and Pakistan and there is also a new section dedicated to refugees with five artists in residence until 23 May. For their inaugural appearance, Pakistan will be represented by multi-disciplinary artist Naiza Khan whose work captures the experience of living and working in Karachi where everyday life is affected by natural disasters, urban migration and political struggle. The UK is represented by Cathy Wilkes, whose sculptures evoke a strong sense of loss and melancholy, while African American artist Martin Puryear will fill the US pavilion with his sculptures which blend abstraction, craft and tradition, while referencing democracy and liberty. Read More


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New York is the place to be next week with two of the most important art fairs of the year taking place. TEFAF NEW YORK Spring (3 to 7 May) and FRIEZE NEW YORK (2 to 5 May) have added many new and exciting exhibitors, exhibitions and collaborations to their line ups this year to attract as many visitors as possible.

Focusing on Modern & Contemporary art & design, the third edition of TEFAF New York Spring features 92 exhibitors, with 12 new participants. The unique architecture of the Park Avenue Armoury provides a great backdrop for exhibitions and ‘Le Coq d’Or’ by Natalia Goncharova (1881-1962) promises to be one of the most striking additions to the space when it is suspended from the ceiling.  The huge masterpiece (30 x 42ft), brought to the fair by Galerie Gmurzynska, is the sole surviving large scale painting from the famed Diaghilev production of the Ballet Russes and is of great historical significance. Its exhibition coincides with a strong revival of interest in the work of the Russian artist; a major retrospective will open at the Tate Modern, London, in June.

For their first appearance at the fair, Pace Gallery will present an exhibition of the work of 20th century master Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985).  Drawing together paintings, works on paper and sculptures by the 20th century master, they capture the unremittingly innovative and bold vision and spirit of the artist. Following their recent announcement of an exclusive collaboration with the Klee Family, David Zwirner will be exhibiting a one-artist presentation of the works of Paul Klee (1879-1940) which is not to be missed. Other highlights include first appearances at the fair for Donald Ellis Gallery, Victoria Miro and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac.

Over at Randall’s Island Park, Frieze New York features a large number of collaborations with leading museum directors this year, such as Patrick Charpenel (Executive Director of El Museo del Barrio, New York) and Susanna V. Temkin (Curator) who will curate Diálogos, a new themed section for Latino and Latin American art.

Another first for this year is Frieze Sculpture at Rockefeller Center, a new public art initiative which is open for two months, until 28 June 2019, featuring works by Joan Miró (1893-1983), Jaume Plensa (b.1955) and Rochelle Goldberg (b.1984), amongst others. The eighth edition of the fair sees increased participation from galleries in Asia with new additions including Tina Keng from Taipei and Experimenter Gallery from Kolkata, alongside record numbers of exhibitors from China.

With new and under-represented art forms alongside some of the most significant names in modern and contemporary art, this is a fair not to be missed. and


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This year marks the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s birth, and there are numerous exhibitions in the Netherlands to celebrate this milestone.  The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam holds the world’s largest collection of works by the Dutch master and they are currently showing All the Rembrandts, offering a once in a lifetime opportunity to gain unparalleled perspective into his life.   On show are 22 paintings, 60 drawings and more than 300 examples of his prints, many of which are very fragile and rarely shown.  Don’t miss his Self-Portrait as the Apostle Paul (1661), Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem (1630) or The Three Crosses (1653).  On show until 10 June 2019.

If you find yourself ‘on the other side of the pond’, the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco is currently showing Monet: The Early Years, the first major U.S. exhibition devoted to the early phase of the artist’s career.  Nearly 60 paintings follow Monet’s development during the formative years of 1858-1872 when he developed his unique visual language and the techniques that went on to make him one of the most famous artists in the world.  On show until 29 May 2019.

Meanwhile at the Royal Academy in London, The Renaissance Nude explores the emergence of the nude as a prominent theme in Western art.  With works by artists including Titian, Bronzino, Leonardo, Cranach and Michelangelo, the exhibition traces the scope of the development of this genre and argues that important contributions to the establishment of the nude as a pivotal subject of European art can be found across the continent.  On show until 2 June 2019.

And for a final recommendation we suggest Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light at the National Gallery, the first UK exhibition of the Spanish Impressionist’s work in over a century.  Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923) is known for his sunny beach scenes, vivid seascapes, garden views all bursting with his signature ability for depicting the bright and warm light of his homeland.  On show until 7th July.


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For anyone in London this week, a quick reminder not to miss the George Michael Collection which is currently on exhibition at Christie’s before being offered in an evening auction on 14 March. And whether you’re in London or not, don’t forget to check out the online sale which is now open for bidding until 15 March (for more details please visit

Gurr Johns is honoured to be acting as advisors to the Trustees of the estate of the highly successful and influential British singer, songwriter, and art collector. Michael developed close relationships with many YBA artists during his lifetime and his instinctive support of young, emerging talent is evident in the collection.  Proceeds from the auction will continue his philanthropic work.

TEFAF 2019

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This week sees the return of TEFAF Maastricht, one of the world’s oldest and most highly regarded art fairs (16 to 24 March 2019). With over 100,000 square feet of exhibition space, the 32nd edition of the fair will consist of nine sections, ranging from Old Master paintings to tribal art, and will welcome 38 new exhibitors.

The TEFAF Modern section will see the greatest growth with 13 new exhibitors, and a number of them will be presenting single-artist stands. Highlights include Parisian dealers Kamel Mennour who will focus on the work of Ugo Rondinone (b.1963) and the use of stone in contemporary art. Having taken part in TEFAF Showcase in 2018, Kallos Gallery will be exhibiting in the Ancient Art, section, becoming one of a number of Showcase dealers that have graduated to the main fair. An extraordinary, complete Greek bronze panoply of a cavalry man is a highlight of their stand; the suit of armour would have belonged to an Italiote warrior of the Classical period (c.4th century BCE) and is one of the most complete to appear on the market for several decades.

A highlight of the Paintings section will be Richard Green’s exhibition dedicated to the celebration of the father and son dynasty of Camille and Lucien Pissarro. Focusing on the family’s connections with France and Britain, as well as the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist movements, the exhibition reflects the immense influence of these two artists. Works include ‘Apples on a tablecloth against a lace-curtained window’ (1885) by Lucien Pissarro (1863 – 1944) and ‘Dans le pre en automne a Eragny’ (1901) by Camille Pissarro (1830 – 1903).


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The Post-War and Contemporary sales this week feature works by many of the biggest names of the 20th and 21st centuries, with paintings by British artists leading the line-up. 

On 5th March Sothebys are expecting much interest in ‘Head of a Boy’ (1956) by Lucian Freud (1922-2011), an exquisite portrait of Garech Browne.  With fine-brush precision and a delicate colour palette the artist beautifully captured the melancholy and contemplative soul of his subject and the work is estimated to sell for £4.5 to £6.5million.  Other highlights of the catalogue include Juncture (1994) by Jenny Saville (b.1970), an artist hailed as a ‘destroyer of false fetishes’ by Simon Schama.  The monumental work commands our full attention and celebrates the beauty of the fleshy female nude in all its glory.  Saville’s works are united by a strong feminist theme, and they are proving ever more popular with collectors.   This fine example almost bursts from the canvas; last sold in 2009 for £434,000, it’s estimated to sell for £5 million to 7million this time around.


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A newly discovered painting of Judith and Holofernes, believed to be a long-lost masterpiece by the Italian master Caravaggio (1571-1610), was put on show this week in London. Praised for its inventive originality, dramatic intensity and virtuosity of execution, the visceral depiction of Judith beheading Holofernes was previously only known to scholars through a copy by Louis Finson (1580-1617).

Documents supporting its provenance suggest that it was painted in 1607 soon after Caravaggio fled Rome, accused of murder, and as such it reflects the darker, more sombre style that he adopted towards the end of his life.  The artist is admired for the dramatic tension in his works, and the intensity of the colours in this painting and the clever use of chiaroscuro are unique to his style.


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Gurr Johns is honoured to be acting as advisors to the Trustees of the estate of the late George Michael.  One of the most influential and best-selling recording artists of all time, the British singer and songwriter was an enthusiastic art collector, supporting young emerging artists and amassing a private collection of more than 200 works including pieces by Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas, Michael Craig-Martin, and Marc Quinn. It was recently announced that his collection will be sold through an evening auction at Christie’s in London on 14 March and an online sale which will be open for bidding from 8 to 15 March. Estimates range from £400 to £1,500,000 and proceeds will continue George Michael’s philanthropic work.