Contemporary Art Society Report 1976

4 August 2015
Cover for the 1976 Contemporary Art Society Annual Report
Cover for the 1976 Contemporary Art Society Annual Report

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother
Executive Committee
Nancy Balfour OBE Chairman
Alistair McAlpine Vice Chairman
Lord Croft Honorary Treasurer
Caryl Hubbard
Max Gordon
Sir Norman Reid
Lady Vaizey
Anthony Diamond
Norbert Lynton
Peter Moores
Edward Lucie-Smith
Marquess of Dufferin and Ava
Catherine Curran
Joanna Drew
Gabrielle Keiller
Bryan Montgomery
Geoffrey Tucker CBE
Alan Bowness CBE
Carol Hogben

Pauline Vogelpoel MBE Organising Secretary

Committee Report for the year ended 31 December 1976
During the year Peter Meyer and Neville Burston retired from the Committee by rotation. Nancy Balfour became Chairman, Lord Croft became Honorary Treasurer and Caryl Hubbard became Honorary Secretary. Alan Bowness, Carol Hogben, Bryan Montgomery and Geoffrey Tucker were elected to the Committee. Belle Shenkman and Anne Sutton were co-opted to the Committee. The principal activity of the Society is to acquire contemporary works of art for presentation to Public Art Collections in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth. The Society’s activities during the year resulted in a deficit of £1,656. The accumulated fund amounted to £9,567 at 31 December 1976.

May 15 1977

Chairman’s Report
It is stimulating for me as your Chairman to be able to announce that in the year during which I took office the Contemporary Art Society spent more than ever before — over £16,000 — on buying pictures and sculpture. However, your new officers cannot claim credit for this; it was made possible by the Darwin Fund — the gift of over £4,000 received late in 1975 from the New Art Centre — and by a welcome increase — to £5,000 — in our purchase grant from the Arts Council.

We are grateful that that grant is expected to remain at £5,000 for 1977. We have also now received a grant of £1,000 from the Scottish Arts Council and we are grateful for this innovation also, particularly since it is accompanied by an expense allowance to enable our buyer to visit studios and exhibitions in Scotland. But, as the Treasurer’s report makes clear, in the present economic situation there is an urgent necessity for additional funds if the society is to raise its support for living artists to anywhere near the level required by their needs and by those of the public art galleries to which we present the works that we buy.

I am happy, therefore, to report that the Society has recently received a two-year grant from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, which has been augmented from private sources. This is enabling us to upgrade Pauline Vogelpoel’s position to that of Director and to appoint a full-time assistant organiser. The purpose of the operation is to make the society’s activities better known, especially outside London, and thus to expand its membership and its funds. With the current official emphasis on the need for more decentralisation of the arts and for more business support for them, the time seems ripe for the society to develop in this way.

We are working on a number of schemes; among them are plans to show the works that we have bought, either in special exhibitions or by lending them, more widely than has been possible in the past, before they are distributed to public galleries; and to encourage business firms and institutions to support artists more generously than they have until now, either by direct buying of work, by sponsorship of projects organised by the society or by contributing to the society’s funds.

A start along the latter lines was made in 1976, which we hope may set an example: Pauline Vogelpoel advised the Mobil corporation on its largescale purchases of prints for its new London office and in recognition of her help we received generous donations from the company and from some of the dealers involved. These and other gifts, both of money and of works of art, are listed later in this report. Of particular importance was Sir Colin Anderson’s presentation of pictures from his collection to the Tate Gallery and to art galleries in Aberdeen and Swansea through the Society.

Our funds also benefitted in 1976 from rises in subscriptions paid by public galleries, as agreed in 1975, from increases in contributions from dealers and auction houses and from a net addition to the number of individual members. It looks as if this addition will be larger this year, but I must warn members that the basic subscription rate is likely to go up in 1978. It has not been increased since 1971 and in this the Society must be almost unique. The various events arranged so successfully by Pauline Vogelpoei made a handsome contribution, as usual, to our purchase funds and were enthusiastically supported by members, even though inevitably charges have gone up substantially.

We were fortunate in having opportunities to view an exceptionally large number of private collections in 1976: Mrs. Belle Shenkman’s in May, combined with the Royal College of Art’s degree show and the Howard Hodgkin show at the Serpentine Gallery; in June Miss Jane Drew’s and Mr. Maxwell Fry’s and Mr. Bryan Montgomery’s, and the Denys Lasdun exhibition at the Heinz Gallery; also in June, a lovely Saturday afternoon was spent at Mrs. Gabrielle Keiller’s beautiful house and garden at Kingston, complete with refreshments which she kindly provided; in October we climbed to Hampstead, to visit Mr. Anthony Caro, Mr. Anthony Diamond, Dr. Lewson and also Dr. Roland’s collection which was being shown at the Camden Art Centre; finally in November came the Marquess of Dufferin and Ava’s house and Mr. F.E. McWilliam’s charming studio in Kensington. All of these outings attracted large numbers of our members who much appreciated the privilege of seeing these important contemporary collections. We are deeply grateful to all of those who allowed us to invade their homes.

Two groups of private galleries opened specially for us on summer evenings — on Motcomb Street and Sloane Street in June, when several dealers also offered us wine, and in the Covent Garden area in July; both were most enjoyable “walk-arounds”. In the late winter there were two evening viewings of the Constable exhibition, followed by dinner in the Tate Gallery Restaurant. In December there was a special party for members and their children to see Sacred Circles, the American Indian exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. On the Sunday before that, Mr. Edward Lucie-Smith gave a fascinating lecture on the Rise and Fall of Modernism, followed by lunch; this was an experiment which we hope to repeat and it was most generous of Mr. Lucie-Smith to give it such a good send-off.

It was a great pity that a greater number of members did not join our September week in Scotland, when we travelled from Inverness through Aberdeen and Edinburgh to Glasgow, visiting castles and public and private collections, ancient and modern and in-between, and being warmly entertained everywhere. The Lord Provost and Council of the City of Aberdeen welcomed us to dinner at the art gallery in a room hung with the works that the gallery has received from the society, including the only Francis Bacon in a public collection in Scotland. This was only one of many enjoyable events organised for us and our appreciative thanks go to all the many Scots who went out of their way to make our trip interesting and successful.

Once again, Mrs. Slagle of Grayson Travel coped most efficiently with the details of the society’s journeys abroad and we are most grateful to her for her help. The series began with a weekend in Leningrad in March, followed by another in the region around Milan in May, visiting museums and the Thyssen gallery; members were entertained by Sir Peter and Lady Smithers and by Count and Countess Panza, who showed their magnificent collection of contemporary art. In October there was another long weekend in and around Barcelona, visiting the Picasso, Dali, Gaudi and Catalan museums, the Miro Foundation, an artists’ co-operative, the artists’ colony at Cadaques, Senor Goria’s private collection and dealers’ galleries.

Last autumn Mrs. Belle Shenkman, a Canadian collector living in London, was co-opted on to the executive committee and later Miss Anne Sutton, a textile designer and artist craftsman, was also co-opted. Three subcommittees have been set up: one to handle exhibitions, with Caryl Hubbard as Chairman; one to plan social events and outings, chaired by Catherine Curran; and a fund-raising committee which I have been chairing since Geoffrey Tucker asked to be relieved because of pressure of work.

The two members who now retire from the executive committee are Max Gordon and Sir Norman Reid; we shall miss them both. With the society’s expanding activities, heavier demands are being made on committee members and I would like to thank them, and even more my fellow officers, for all their advice and help. We are always grateful to the Tate Gallery for its hospitality and, above all, to our ex-organising secretary, now our Director, for her devotion and enthusiasm.


Honorary Treasurer’s Report
I would like to record my thanks to the new Chairman for the time and trouble she has taken in introducing me to the finances of the Contemporary Art Society. It will not be easy to succeed her as Treasurer, though I will benefit from the work that she did between 1971 and 1976.

The surplus of £2,514, with which 1975 ended, would have been a deficit had it not been for the Darwin “windfall” of £4,104 received in that year. The Darwin money was all spent in 1976 on pictures and, although in some respects 1976 was a more satisfactory year financially than 1975, it has ended with a deficit of £1,656. During the course of the year our quoted investments have been reduced (owing to the redemption of two holdings) to an “at cost” figure of £4,000 as compared with £5,433 in 1975. Subscriptions and donations from members rose by £2,391 in 1976, mainly because of increased payments by public galleries, for which we are grateful. General expenses also rose, by £1,049, but an analysis of the figures shows that this was reasonable, given the prevailing rate of inflation together with the increased activity of the society. Indeed, that expenses were no higher reflects great credit on the organising secretary.

As a result of the deficit and the other factors involved, the accumulated fund fell from £11,156 at the end of 1975 to £9,567 on December 31, 1976. In spite of this deterioration, your committee felt that it would not be appropriate to reduce the amounts allocated to the society’s buyers for 1977 at a time when the society is poised for expansion and has received additional support from the Arts Council. Moreover, the accumulated fund is large enough to allow for manoeuvre in the short term.

The society would benefit particularly at this time if those members who could afford to do so would increase their subscriptions above the maximum. It is to be hoped that during 1977 corporate and individual wellwishers will help to meet the extra expenses of this Jubilee year to which the society will be making a notable contribution with its two special exhibitions, at the American Embassy in July and the Royal Academy in October. Already several specific donations towards the costs of these exhibitions have been received, notably from the London Celebrations Committee for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, the Linbury Trust and the RCA company.


List of Purchases for the year 1976
Buyer: Anthony Diamond

Prunella Clough, White Study No 3 (oil)
Merlyn Evans, Wharfside Construction (drawing)
Anthony Green, “Two Plus Two”, 1975 (four etchings 3/18)
Howard Hodgkin, Simon Digby Talking, 1972—75 (oil on wood)
Peter Kinley, Fireside, 1975 (oil)
F.E. McWilliam, Survivor, 1974/6 (bronze)
Michael Pennie, Bending Oak, 1975 (sculpture)
Tom Phillips, Life Drawing, 1962
Nicholas Pope, Maquette for Drooping Column (sculpture)
Jack Smith, “Grid Activities and Paper Clip” (mixed media)
Richard Smith, “Four Knots Series, No 6 (acrylic and oil crayon/paper)

Buyer: Norbert Lynton
Michael Chilton, Mixed media drawing
Winston Branch, Ju Ju Bird No 2 (oil)
Prunella Clough, Interior/objects 3 (oil)
Bernard Cohen, Somersault, 1974/75 (acrylic)
Harold Cohen, Project, 1962 (oil)
Boyd and Evans, Looking Out, 1974 (acuatec/canvas)
Terry Frost, Collage, 1974
Peter de Francia, Disparates — parlour games (2 drawings)
R.B. Kitaj, Boss Tweed, 1972 (screen-print)
John Loker, Coastal Horizon (etching)
Robert Mason, Trapeze (mixed media/collage)
Keith Milow, Four Studies for Split Definitive, 1976 (oil on Herculene
Brendan Neiland, Auto suite (3 prints)
Roger Palmer, Snow, 1974 (print)
Jack Smith, 24 Pins, 13 Pieces of Paper and painted Elements, 1974
Richard Smith, Edward Gordon Craig (lithograph)
Harry Thubron, Ari, 1975 (collage on board)

Purchased out of the Darwin Fund
Merlyn Evans, Landscape with Figures (oil)
Merlyn Evans, Tragic Group (etching 1/25 Final Stage)
Garth Evans, Untitled No 3 and No 4, 1976 (drawings)
Stephen Farthing, Louis XIV – Rigaud (oil)
Michael Friend, 2 sets of 4 untitled drawings (gouache)
Trevor Jones, Collage No 7, 1975
Lucy Mackenzie, “Both Worlds”, 1975 (construction)
Elizabeth Vellacott, Eclipse of the Sun (oil on wood panel

Loans made by the Society during 1976
Howard Hodgkin painting to the Arts Council’s “Howard Hodgkin” Exhibition

Paul Huxley and Rita Donagh works to the British Council’s “British Art Today” Exhibition in Milan
Mervyn Peake drawing and selected press cuttings to ” A n Honest Patron: A tribute to Sir Edward Marsh” at Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool

Harry Thubron painting to the Arts Council’s “Harry Thubron” Exhibition

Gifts to the Society
From Sir Colin and Lady Anderson, seventeen works given with the special request that they should be presented on their behalf through the Contemporary Art Society to the Tate Gallery, Aberdeen Art Gallery and the Glyn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea.

From Alistair McAlpine, two gouaches by Sheila Delaney.

From Petersburg Press, “The Rash Act”, Print by R.J. Kitaj.

To download the Contemporary Art Society Report for 1976 (pdf) click here


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