Exhibitions United Kingdom

London museum showcases dealer’s works

Fashion illustration collection amassed by Joelle Chariau appears open to offers

A 1967 fashion illustration by Antonio Lopez, from the New York Times Magazine

LONDON. A collection of fashion illustrations that form most of the “Drawing Fashion” exhibition this month at London’s Design Museum (see What’s On, p6) appear to be up for sale by the dealer who owns them. Joelle Chariau, who is showing 150 of her own original works in London, told The Art Newspaper that the collection is not being shown for sale, but—should a buyer be interested in acquiring all her works sometime in the future—she would sell for an undisclosed amount.

She says there are approximately 20 more illustrations that form the collection, together with those that will be at the Design Museum. Ashley Wood­field, a spokesman for the museum, says the institution is not offering the works for sale, adding that it would never allow the sale of any pieces while on show there. Chariau has told them that she would ideally like to find an institution to house the collection, he said.

London dealer William Ling, who runs the Fashion Illustration Gallery, said: “Clearly the Design Museum also thinks it is of museum quality. Times are tough, so why not collaborate with a dealer to put on an exhibition?” Indeed, Chariau has been instrumental in getting the show’s sponsors—BMW and Escada—on board. “If she manages to sell after a lifetime of collecting, then good for her,” added Ling.

Chariau opened her Munich gallery in 1980, at a time when “nobody was interested” in fashion illustration. She then held an exhibition of works by René Gruau, an illustrator who in 1947 became artistic director of advertising for Christian Dior and went on to work for all the major designers and magazines including Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Chariau says she sold 100 original drawings at this successful 1982 exhibition.

Subsequent shows cemented Gruau’s market (his La Femme en Noir, 1980, sold at Christie’s New York in June for $146,500) and the wider market for fashion illustrations has gained fans ever since. Ling says that the market for these works is now international, including collectors from Singapore, South America and China. His gallery is holding a “fully commercial, selling exhibition” of Gruau’s magazine illustrations for International Textiles magazine (ranging between £6,000 and £15,000) from 5 November to 4 December at London’s Mayor Gallery. Somerset House also has a René Gruau exhibition from 10 November to 9 January 2011.

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