At Enter Gallery, we know the value of investing in art, and regularly meet customers keen to cultivate their own collections with work from leading artists. When it comes to highly-collectible pieces, it’s hard to look past works from some of the most iconic British artists of all time. So, in today’s blog, we’re focusing on four of the UKs most celebrated artists, where they got their start in the art world, and how their pieces have changed the face of art both at home, and on foreign shores. If you’re interested in owning your very own slice of history, then read on…
First off, we have Damien Hirst, an artist who requires little introduction. One of the YBAs of the 1990s, no artist has pushed more boundaries, or changed the way we look at art more than Hirst. His provocative pieces have both shocked and divided the art world, and have angered many an animal rights activist, most notably when he suspended a real tiger shark in formaldehyde, and used live butterflies in an installation at the Tate Modern.
“As an artist the best you can hope for is people arguing, mixed reviews. Love it and hate it. If you get that, then you’re on the right track. If everyone loves or everyone hates it, you’re in trouble.” – Damien Hirst
Although controversial, this enfant terrible has been responsible for some of the most exciting art to happen in our lifetime. Hirst was the first to bring naked statues to the Middle East and his 2008 piece, ‘For the Love of God’, which featured a real human skull embellished with ethically-sourced flawless diamonds, sold for £50 million. At the time this was the biggest sum that any work of art created by a living artist had sold for.
Whether he’s exploring death and pharmaceuticals, or science and religion, every artwork created by Hirst is guaranteed to both make us think, and to make headlines.
Two prime, instantly-recognisable examples of Hirst’s oeuvre, available at Enter Gallery include Victory Over Death and Picolinic Acid, 2012.
Victory Over Death is as a contemporary momento mori, which true to form, is an exploration of human mortality. The piece is the only etching of the iconic diamond-encrusted skull that Hirst created for ‘For The Love of God’. Interestingly, Hirst sourced the real human skull used for the piece from a shop in Islington, and it is said to have belonged to a European man who lived between 1720 and 1810. The original piece cost £14 million to make, and was decorated with 8,601 flawless diamonds, including a pear-shaped pink diamond placed in the centre of the forehead, known as the Skull Star Diamond.
Picolinic Acid, 2012 was created for Hirst’s original series of Pharmaceutical spot paintings, each of which depicts a chemical substance used by the pharmaceutical industry. In this instance – picolinic acid, which is produced by our brain to fight diseases. As with all of his immaculate spot paintings, the piece is invitation to get lost in the joy of colour.
‘The Godfather of Pop Art’ – Peter Blake
Long before he created the iconic cover to Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Peter Blake was creating Pop Art that inspired a generation of artists. Blake is known for creating collages celebrating popular culture, mostly crafted from printed ephemera. His infamously extensive collection is known to include everything from photographs and matchboxes, to cigarette packets and flyers. It’s not just vintage paper goods that have inspired this prolific artist, more unusual items said to be in his collection include Victorian taxidermy, vintage toys and a pair of clown shoes once owned by Max Miller – a perfect example of the ethos that has defined his career, the idea that anything an artist makes is art.
“I invented Pop Art, if one is being arrogant.” – Peter Blake.
Since becoming one of the best known British artists in the 1950s, Blake has inspired the likes of Andy Warhol and David Hockney and his compositions have been used as album covers for Eric Clapton, Band Aid, The Who, Oasis and more. His work represents the decidedly British condition of longing for a better future and present, which is seen via his depictions of days gone by, the American dream and fantasy worlds featuring elves and fairies. Knighted in 2002 for his outstanding contribution to modern art, having a Peter Blake in your collection is a mark of a true art lover.
The Peter Blake Stars Set is a beautiful set of five silkscreens, with photo collage and diamond dust against a gold bark effect background. The set depicts five of the world’s biggest icons, who over the decades have influenced what we watch, wear and listen to. The idols who’ve made the cut include, Marilyn Monroe, Bridget Bardot, Kate Moss, The Beatles, and of course, The King himself (and a staple feature of Blake’s work), Elvis Presley.
Art doesn’t come much more collectible than from artist, writer, broadcaster and Turner Prize winner, Grayson Perry. Across his tapestries, ceramic vases, prints, graphic novels or whatever artistic endeavour he is excelling at next, Perry’s is known for his astute observations of the art world, and for dissecting British ‘prejudices, fashions and foibles.’
“I like the idea of my art being a covetable object; I like preciousness. A lot of art seems to flaunt its throw-away character, but you have to sail out into the dangerous sea of fine art with these crafted works.” – Grayson Perry
Across his oeuvre, Perry’s artworks are infused with a strong autobiographical element, whether that’s via images of him as ‘Clare’ his female alter-ego, or Alan Measles, his childhood teddy bear.
If you’re seeking a special piece then Selfie With Political Causes could be the one for you. This colourful and arresting image depicts Grayson as Clare dressed in full hair and make-up, riding a Harley Davidson fuelled by sexism, racism, poverty, and expelling free speech, democracy and tolerance. Perry describes the piece as ‘a reaction to the way that politics has become very fashionable in art.’
Quinn is another contemporary artist who sprung to prominence in the 1990s as a YBA, alongside the likes of Hirst, Tracey Emin and Gary Hume. Across his oeuvre, Quinn’s work focuses on what it is to be a human living in the world. His thoughtful artworks explore identity, our relationship with nature, human desire and the significance of what is considered ‘beautiful’.
“I still think science is looking for answers and art is looking for questions.” – Marc Quinn
Quinn’s most famous piece, Self, is what kickstarted his career back in 1991. The artist made a cast of his own head, made entirely from his own blood, which was then frozen and stored at sub-zero temperatures. The artwork was intended as the purest form of self-portrait, but also a comment on humanity’s need for infrastructure, for without electricity, the piece would be reduced to a puddle. The piece was an apt start for an artist who, over the decades, has repeatedly produced paintings, sculptures and installations that call on us to question everything.
We’re have two new highly-collectible pieces from Quinn here at Enter Gallery, Geography and New Geography. Both pieces are a continuation of the artist’s renowned Iris Series – in which Quinn explores the idea that in the age of the Internet, what we see dominates our perceptions of the world. The series sees Quinn overlay iris images with world maps, and invites the observer to consider the paranoid world we live in, and how our boundaries of both experience and geographical territory, are rapidly changing.
If you’re interested in investing in any of these unforgettable pieces, swing by the gallery in Brighton, or give us a call on 01273 724829.