What Defines ‘British Cool’? A Bonhams Sale Surveys the Vibe, With 11 Banksy Works, a Mick Jagger and Warhol Collab, and More
The diverse array of offerings celebrates the rich cultural heritage of modern Britain and its enduring sense of cool.
British Cool is back at Bonhams New Bond Street in London, paying homage to the coolness of the iconic British spirit. On March 29, the third edition of the annual thematic sale is set to showcase 252 items of art, prints, fashion, photographs, and popular culture memorabilia, including works by some of the biggest British cultural icons, from Banksy to Tracey Emin to the Beatles, will be on offer.
Janet Hardie, Bonhams’s co-head of sale, described the event as “a wonderful showcase of British creativity across different decades and art forms.” Another co-head of sale, Carolin von Massenbach said the sale “offers an undeniably good argument for Britain’s image as a cool cultural player.”
A core of the sale is work by one of the U.K.’s more famous exports: no fewer than 11 works by Banksy are up for grabs, including an example of the celebrated “Girl with Balloon” series of stencil murals painted around London starting in 2002.
Another Banksy work on offer is Nola (White), which initially appeared on walls around New Orleans in 2005 to commemorate the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina. Banksy reversed the protective purpose of the umbrella, transforming it into the cause of the girl’s deluge, in a comment on the inability of government institutions to adequately protect citizens. Nola (White) is estimated to fetch £70,000–£100,000 ($84,500–$120,700).
One featured standout is a print of Mick Jagger from the “Mick Jagger Portfolio” by Andy Warhol, signed by the artist and numbered 227/250—it is also signed in felt-tip pen by Jagger himself. Warhol first met the rock star in 1964 while the Rolling Stones were on tour in the United States, yet it wasn’t until 1975 that they came together to create a series of ten screen-prints. Jagger, staying with his wife Bianca in Warhol’s Montauk home, sat for the polaroids that would come to be the “Mick Jagger Portfolio.” The screen-print is expected to fetch between £60,000 and £80,000 ($72,400–$96,500).
The sale includes a limited-edition Tracey Emin International Woman suitcase in collaboration with French luggage maker Longchamp. Emin used a range of its Le Pliage bags to explore the idea of an “international woman” traveling in search of “international love” with an “international Man.”
Each of the 200 suitcases Emin made carries a signed rosette with a hand-drawn Longchamp logo and city, street name, or hotel that reminded her of a moment of love. The bag is expected to fetch between £2,000 and £3,000 ($2,414–$3,620).
The late Dame Vivienne Westwood was one of few pioneers at the intersection of fashion, art, and popular culture. The sale features a number of her creations, including a pink spandex Boulle dress from the Dressing Up collection of fall/winter 1991–1992. The look was modeled by Linda Evangelista on the runway and has an estimate of £800–£1,200 ($965–$1,448).
British Cool also features a selection of works by Ian Emes, inspired by and created for Pink Floyd‘s world tour of their landmark album The Dark Side Of The Moon (1974). Emes was initially not interested in animation until he saw the Beatles’s film Yellow Submarine, which inspired him to explore the possibilities of the medium. He went on to create the animated film French Windows for Pink Floyd. This project was a technically ambitious one. He produced 5,640 drawings, each one traced onto celluloid sheets and painted.
The original animated cels on offer in the sale include Time – Ticking Away, a multi-cel set up for the album The Dark Side Of The Moon. This work—expected to fetch between £20,000 and £30,000 ($24,126–$36,205)—was selected by the band to become the poster for their re-mastered 50th anniversary release of the album.
Bonhams’s British Cool auction takes place at its 101 New Bond Street location in London on March 29.
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