‘If it could only be like this always – always summer, always alone, the fruit always ripe….’ I remember Evelyn Waugh’s words from Brideshead Revisited as I contemplate the circuit of summer parties. And first on the invite list for many of these parties is sure to be Princess Eugenie who was recently unveiled as a new associate director at Hauser and Wirth. Rumours reach me that Mr Wirth was particularly impressed with the Princess’s recent twenty-fifth birthday party themed around Snow White (guess who took that role) and featuring seven real-life small-statured actors, and wants to put her in charge of reviving the gallery’s rather staid after-parties. To celebrate the Princess’s appointment I’m putting Paul McCarthy’s Untitled 7 (Penis Saloon), 2006, first on this week’s wishlist, available from Hauser & Wirth’s editions store for £4,500 and in an edition of 30.
Meanwhile over at the Princess’s former employers, Paddle8, the benefit auction for SITE Santa Fe has just kicked off and I’ll be keeping a close eye on bids over the next couple of weeks on Ed Ruscha’s Lady Joy, 2013, which has an estimate of £60,000. SITE’s biennial has often provided a feeding-ground for Venice, with Francesco Bonami, Rosa Martinez and Robert Storr going on to grapple with the Italian monster (with varied success, erm, Mr Storr) after stints in Santa Fe, and a wistful reminiscence about Dave Hickey’s 2001 edition (one didn’t actually have to be there to do this) always gets a nod of respect from curators at summer parties.
Aside from the giddy whirlwind of parties, summer in London always has one other constant: the Royal Academy Summer Show. This bonkers collection of amateur landscapes, gnarly old Royal Academicians and new Royal Academicians inducted into the establishment to make it less stuffy is a truly peculiar affair. Comedian Harry Hill’s portrait of Damien Hirst might have already sold for £2,000 but I’m going to pool together the magazine’s beer kitty to splash out on Frank Bowling’s splendidly summery Pickerslift, which was still available at time of writing for a mere £125,000 and a far more solid investment than the latest process abstraction by twenty-something kids doing the rounds at auction.
And talking of auctions, it was fitting to see Chris Ofili’s The Holy Virgin Mary, 1996, fetch a solid £2.9 million at Christie’s London evening sale. Manifold Editions have got a couple of nice Ofili lithographs available including Tempest, 2010, for £3,300 (edition of 40). One could buy it from their website but much more satisfying would be to hop on a plane and see them at one of those art fairs that could only take place during the balmy summer months, Art Hamptons which runs until 5 July. I’ll be popping in en route to the Bay Kitchen Bar where I shall be eating Fisherman’s Soup and thinking about the humble pleasures of summer.
Online exclusive published on 2 July 2015.