Sunday, February 8, 2015

Pace London presents A Portrait of Robert Fraser



Pace London presents A Strong Sweet Smell of Incense, a momentous exhibition that takes as inspiration the character and career of celebrated art dealer and pioneer, Robert Fraser. Curated by Brian Clarke, in association with Harriet Vyner, the exhibition is staged at 6 Burlington Gardens from 6 February to 28 March 2015. 


The exhibition presents “a personal portrait” of Robert Fraser told in artworks and curated by artist Brian Clarke. Clarke was a close friend of Fraser and is also one of several artists who were once represented by the Robert Fraser Gallery – including Jim Dine, Claes Oldenburg and Jean Dubuffet. Rather than adopting an academic approach, Clarke’s selection of work seeks to capture the spirit and energy of his friend while also providing a historic context for Fraser’s flamboyance, dynamism and avant-garde gallery programme. In looking at Fraser’s era-defining gallery, Pace’s exhibition also evokes the artistically flourishing London of the 1960s, when popular culture, music and art collided with Robert at the epi-centre. Paul McCartney has referred to Fraser in Groovy Bob as “one of the most influential people of the London sixties scene”. Robert Fraser was instrumental in producing the Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover after he introduced Peter Blake to The Beatles. 



In the 1960s and the 1980s, the Robert Fraser Gallery was London’s preeminent gallery showing both European and American emerging artists. Fraser opened his gallery in 1962 with an exhibition of works by Jean Dubuffet, and, over the years, fostered close relationships with luminaries of contemporary art. After leaving London to spend much of the 1970s in India, Fraser reopened in 1982 with an exhibition of works by Brian Clarke from the late 70s and early 80s, some of them on view in A Strong Sweet Smell of Incense. These works sparked the inspiration for Pace’s exhibition. “The art world at the time was really tired. Nothing was really happening. But the feeling was, if anything was going to happen, it would be at 21 Cork Street.” Brian Clarke, Groovy Bob. 

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