Sotheby's auction celebrates the career of cartoonist Gerald Scarfe

Manuscript Man

Manuscript Man

2017-03-06 10:49:02

Sotheby's is set to auction artworks from the personal collection of celebrated British caricaturist and cartoonist Gerald Scarfe.

The dedicated sale 'Scarfe at Sotheby’s' will offer more than 130 original drawings from a man regarded as amongst the most 40 important newspaper journalists of the modern era.

Scarfe has served as The Sunday Times’ political cartoonist for more than 50 years, along with regularly contributing to both Private Eye and The New Yorker.

But in addition to capturing the most important political figures of our era, his work has also featured heavily on both the stage and screen, along with his famous collaborations with rock band Pink Floyd.

"The works selected range from Disney to Pink Floyd, from Thatcher to May, Reagan to Obama, and Yes Minister to The Magic Flute," said Dr Philip W. Errington, Sotheby’s Specialist in Books and Manuscripts. "There is truly an eclectic mix, spanning his entire half-century career."

"Over the past months, spent working alongside Gerald preparing for this sale, I’ve been struck by his consummate skill and artistry," added Errington. "Sometimes he treats his subjects with gentle amusement, at other times he presents a full-blown, biting critique. These drawings pack a significant punch."

(Images: Sotheby

(Images: Sotheby's)

Leading the sale is a historic cartoon depicting Winston Churchill's final appearance in the House of Commons in 1964. The illustration was deemed too savage for The Times, and only appeared six months later on the cover of Private Eye, following Churchill's death.

Further famous figures captured by Scarfe's pen include everyone from the Queen to Mick Jagger, David Beckham and Theresa May.

The sale also includes several artworks created during Scarfe's famous collaborations with Pink Floyd, which began when members of the band saw his work and said to themselves "We’ve got to work with this guy, he’s f***ing mad!"

And Scarfe's work in film and theatre is well-represented, with works created for the Disney animation Hercules along with production designs for The Nutcracker, Fantastic Mr Fox and The Magic Flute.

"I feel it’s the duty of an artist to re-interpret the world and to freshen our stale vision, making us see what we hadn’t realised was there," said Scarfe. "What I’m trying to do is simply to bring out their essential characteristics. I find a particular delight in taking the caricature as far as I can."

"My drawings are of course very personal acts made in the privacy of my own home, but when they leave my hands they escape into hundreds of thousands of copies and may be seen by millions of people.

"I don’t think about that when I make the drawing – it’s just between my imagination and that piece of paper – but if a drawing is particularly ferocious or overtly sexual and someone looks at it in my presence I have to admit to sometimes feeling shy; I feel so personally about it it’s almost like undressing in public. To me these are not only drawings, they are memories, and mark particular moments in my life."

'Scarfe at Sotheby’s' takes place in London on April 5.

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