Brian Clarke: Paintings

15th June 1983 to 15th July 1983

Robert Fraser Gallery, London, Robert Fraser Gallery, 19 Cork Street, W1


When Robert Fraser, the art dealer who first brought to Europe the work of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, and brought to attention of the British public Peter Blake, Richard Hamilton and other key Pop Art figures, reopened his Gallery in 1983 fourteen years after closing and having declared the art scene dead, it was with the show Brian Clarke: Paintings. Interest was so great that Cork Street had to be closed on the invitation-only opening night, with a crowd of ‘2000 friends’ spilling out into and drinking in the street, and a police cordon put up.

Outside it was a cool June evening, inside at the trendiest opening of the ‘80s, people were practically passing out. So intense was the excitement and body heat that the windows of Robert Fraser’s new gallery steamed up like a sauna.

Television crews vied for position on nearby scaffolding, and attendees including the McCartneys, Norman Foster, Marianne Faithful, Harold Pinter, Marlon Brando, Francis Bacon, Manolo Blahnik, and David Bailey fixed the opening night and the show in the gossip columns and art magazines.

More than just a gallery, in the Sixties the Robert Fraser space became a forum for all that was taking place at that time: the world of pop musicians, fashion designers, film makers, movie stars was all a part of his internationally acclaimed business. With the coming of the Seventies Fraser lost enthusiasm and closed down. However, an interesting sign of the times is that he has chosen this moment to reopen, with an exhibition by British neo-constructivist Brian Clarke.