Introducing Avant Garde

Introducing Avant Garde

In Conversation With Simon Hucker

Join Senior Specialist Simon Hucker as he discusses our exciting new London auction - Avant Garde : Art from 1900 to Now.

Simon Hucker




Looking forward to our newest London auction, we sat down with Head of Sale Simon Hucker to discuss Avant Garde and the ideas that have formed this dynamic new sale...



Why 'Avant Garde'? 

We thought it would be good for the sale to have a string identity, in the same way Modern Made has… I was thinking of just calling it ‘Modern, Post-War & Contemporary’ art – as that is what it will contain – but where’s the fun in that? Of course, giving a sale a strong title – a line from a book or a song, or even something simple like ‘avant garde’ - means that we might have to turn the odd thing away. However, it’s worth remembering that some things which to our eye don’t have the requisite ‘out there’ feel that the word avant-garde suggests, were consider radical, beyond the pale even, when they were made. We forget that in the early part of the 20th Century, Impressionism was still considered an affront to good taste and Post-Impressionism an absolute outrage, as Roger Fry discovered with his ground-breaking exhibitions in England in 1913 and 1918. Or that the Tate declined to buy Matisse’s The Red Studio in the mid-50s, even though they were being offered it for the price of family car.


What is it to be 'avant-garde'? 

For me, the avant-garde can look like anything, as it’s more about spirit. As such, the sale can embrace a huge proportion of art made since 1900, as artists themselves have sought to define themselves in opposition to history and artistic tradition, instead committing themselves – to borrow from the great Robert Hughes – to ‘the shock of the new’. Of course, all Post-Modernists will no doubt argue that Modernism itself became the orthodoxy and therefore ceased to be avant-garde – in many ways it’s a fair comment and a very good reason for our auction to include both (although auctions aren’t always the best place for ephemeral performances and happenings with intangible outcomes!). However, on either side of this debate, all those artists since the beginning of the last century have seen themselves as breaking new ground, of trying something different, and so should be considered avant-garde.


What should we expect from the sale?

One important aspect of the sale is that every work within it will be treated on its own artistic merit and not in accordance with its (monetary) value. In this aspect, even the seemingly most cutting-edge of contemporary auctions are really quite traditional. As such, I’m delighted that our first Avant Garde auction will take place in the evening, as ‘Evening Sales’ are usually the preserve of the heavyweight and canonical, as they have been since their inception in the late 40s, as black-tie and tiara affairs. So for one night, we auction specialists get to play museum curator and present works that for us are valuable in terms of what they are and what they say and not just because they are expensive. I hope it will be a sale of discoveries and re-discoveries, some bona fide classics and the odd mis-fit. I’d love to see works by the likes of Picasso, Fontana, Warhol and Hockney in the sale, but I’m equally excited to have works by artists that have been overlooked. One of our first consignments is a 1960s construction by Gillian Wise, from the collection of the sculptor Stephen Gilbert. Both artists are terribly overlooked, not least Wise, who was a genuine trailblazer for women artists in the male-dominated hard-edge scene.


Illustrated top: DAVID HOCKNEY (BRITISH 1937-) | IN AN OLD BOOK (DETAIL), 1966 | £5,000 - £8,000 + fees | To be offered: Avant Garde | April 2023


Auction Information


AVANT GARDE: Art From 1900 to Now

Thursday 27 April 2023

Mall Galleries, London | Live Online


Consignments are invited until Friday 03 March 2023


Consign Now ⇒



Modern British Art


Lyon & Turnbull are delighted to offer several auctions a year across the UK featuring to Modern British painting, sculpture, prints and drawings - including MODERN MADE in London. These Modern British art auctions feature works from the likes of Walter Sickert and the Camden Town Group to Terry Frost and the St Ives School, we also handle selected works by all of 20th century Europe’s major figures and movements.


Learn More ⇒





Simon Hucker



0207 930 9115





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