In the late 80s and early 90s, Howson embarked on a thematic exploration of what his biographer Robert Heller describes as his Patriots: the fascists, the football hooligans, the bully boys of the UK... “People who use brute force for brute ends”. It would go on to become the facet of his work for which he is arguably best known.
Face of Britain III, dates to 1991, and is a significant iteration of this theme. This monumental and muscular ‘Game Boy’ raises his fist in a gesture pitched somewhere between a neo-Nazi salute and the celebratory stance of a football fan or roused member of a street mob. He sports the typical uniform of baseball cap and too-tight t-shirt, a nod of ridicule on Howson’s part, but with sinister “wrist gauntlets that furl out into a threatening combination of football scarf and leather strap”. The figure’s face is contorted into a mask of “swinish hate”, as Heller puts it.
What Howson sought to achieve through these works was an exorcism of his own violent side, but most of all they are a social study of “the universal theme of man’s inhumanity to man”, an interrogation of the darkness that drives man and the masses, and to hold a mirror up to one of the darker ‘Faces of Britain’ that we would perhaps rather not acknowledge. Howson’s experience at the hands of such figures had “an ineradicable impact on (his) psyche”.
Characterised by competitive bidding, strong results and a high selling rate, our Contemporary & Post-War Art sales are among our most popular auctions. Held three times a year in our Scottish saleroom, highlights are also regularly exhibited in our London gallery. Our strong private client base and excellent international marketing reach has seen these sales grow into flagships of our company.
Encompassing works by both emerging and internationally regarded contemporary artists and sculptors, we have achieved top prices for household names including John Hoyland (a world record), Bridget Riley, Eduardo Paolozzi (a world record for a sculpture), Terry Frost, Nicholas Party, Alison Watt and Callum Innes. Regularly featured local favourites include John Bellany and the ‘New Glasgow Boys’ Peter Howson, Ken Currie, Steven Campbell, as well as John Byrne and Alasdair Gray.