Exhibition Will Honor Freud and Bacon’s Favorite Watering Hole in London

If you remember it, you were never there...

'Colony Room I' (1962) Michael Andrews. Image © The Estate of Michael Andrews, courtesy of James Hyman Gallery, London
Michael Andrews 'Colony Room I' (1962). Image © The Estate of Michael Andrews, courtesy of James Hyman Gallery, London

This October, Bonhams will host a series of paintings depicting an old relic of Soho’s bohemian past.

“The Colony Room: Masterpieces from Gallant House Gallery” opens on October 2 and will run up until October 11, coinciding neatly with Frieze. The show tells the inside story of a favourite watering hole among some of the most famous artists of the 20th century: Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach and Richard Hamilton, to name a few.

Paintings by the very same artists illustrate the atmosphere of the times, and its hidden secrets, too.

The Architects (1981) R. B. Kitaj. Image © R.B. KitajEstate

The Architects (1981) R. B. Kitaj. Image ©R.B. KitajEstate

The Colony Room was opened in 1948 by Muriel Belcher, initially as a way of overcoming the strict licensing hours of that time, to eventually become a true favorite among artists, musicians, and writers alike—a glimmering spot in the darkness of a post-war London. Bacon famously called it, “an oasis where the inhibitions of sex and class are dissolved.”

Its historical significance continued even after Belcher’s death in 1979, with the YBA’s frequenting the joint after hours, regulars to the likes of Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, and Sarah Lucas along with Kate Moss, Will Self, and Alex James of the band Blur.

Swingeing London (1967-1968) Richard Hamilton. Image © R. Hamilton. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2016.

Swingeing London (1967-1968) Richard Hamilton. Image © R. Hamilton. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2016.

Paintings on display will include Lucian Freud’s Self-Portrait with Hyacinth in Pot (1947-48), Frank Auerbach’s Oxford Street Building Site (1960), and Michael Andrews’ Colony Room 1 (1962), illustrating a rather star-studded cast of characters including Jeffrey Bernard, Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, and Muriel Belcher, all of whom are stilled together in the frame.

Bonham Director of Post-War and Contemporary Art, Garth Williams has said in a statement, “This exhibition at Bonhams is a rare opportunity to explore the world which they moved and the history of the famous – some might say infamous – Colony Room where boundaries were there to be broken.” And, admission is free.


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