Contemporary Art Society Report 1973-74

18 August 2015
Cover for the Contemporary Art Society Annual Report 1973-74
Cover for the Contemporary Art Society Annual Report 1973-74

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother
Peter Meyer   Chairman
Alistair McAlpine   Vice Chairman
Nancy Balfour OBE   Honorary Treasurer
Lord Croft   Honorary Secretary
The Hon. J. D. Sainsbury
Alan Bowness
Alexander Dunbar
Carol Hogben
Caryl Hubbard
Max Gordon
Sir Norman Reid
Marina Vaizey
Pauline Vogelpoel MBE Organising Secretary

Committee Report for the year ended 31 December 1973
During the year Bryan Robertson and Joanna Drew retired from the Committee by rotation. Sir Norman Reid and Marina Vaizey were elected to the Committee. Neville Burston, Anthony Diamond, Peter Moores, Norbert Lynton and Edward Lucie-Smith were co-opted to the Committee and now come up for formal adoption.

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 surplus of £1,135. The accumulated fund amounted to £8,718 at 31 December, 1973.

July 1 1974

Chairman’s Report
During 1973 our main preoccupation was with the organisation of an Art Fair which we were planning to hold at Christies at the beginning of January 1974. We had noted that many directors of museums do not get the opportunity to come to London sufficiently frequently to be able to see the work of all contemporary artists and many of our members and the general public are similarly handicapped. We therefore planned to hold an exhibition of one work by each of 100 leading painters and sculptors; all works would be available for sale, in the first place at a private view for museum directors, secondly at an evening party for CAS members and finally to the general public. The proposal was enthusiastically welcomed by museums and received the whole-hearted support of Christies and leading dealers. Even the recently appointed Minister for the Arts, Mr. Norman St. John Stevas, accepted an invitation to our opening party. Unfortunately, however, the electricity restrictions made it impossible either to hang the show or to hold the party, and the exhibition would only have been open for three days. We regretfully therefore had to cancel it. We have not yet been able to fix a new date, but hope that it will be possible to do so in the near future.

We have also been affected by the saga of museum entrance charges, which, it will be recalled, were in force for only a few months until cancelled by the new Government. Two years ago we increased our subscriptions so that they would be high enough to provide an exemption for our members from these charges, but as I pointed out in my statement last year, we feel that the higher subscriptions are essential and we cannot reduce them, even though they now contain no entrance charge element.

Our social activities during the year were on the usual magnificent scale to which our organising secretary has accustomed us. We had evening parties at the Hayward Gallery for the exhibitions of the Impressionists in London, of the Pioneers of Modern Sculpture, and of the Cezanne exhibition in November. Since then however the overtime payments for staff have made the cost of evening openings at the Hayward so expensive that it is not practicable to hold them. I know how much these parties have been appreciated by members and I particularly regret the present position.

Our evening viewings of special exhibitions at the Tate Gallery, followed by dinner in the Rex Whistler Room, have been so successful that on occasions they have had to be duplicated. We held them for the Robyn Denny, Edward Burra and Cartoons of Modern Art, and Landscape in Britain exhibitions. Special evening viewings were held for Gerald Benney’s Retrospective exhibition at Goldsmith’s Hall and for the Chinese Exhibition at the Royal Academy. We also visited the studios of two London enamellers, Marit Aschan and Robin Banks, and the workshops and studios of Editions Alecto.

A weekend was spent in Cambridge to see the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Museum in Kettle’s Yard, where a party and an evening concert were held in the last month of the curatorship of the founder, Mr. Ede, a former secretary of the CAS. We also made an architectural tour of notable buildings in Cambridge with the able assistance of three undergraduates from the Architectural School. The following day members greatly enjoyed a visit to Professor Sir Leslie and Lady Martin’s mill outside Cambridge to see their superb collection, followed by visits first to Michael Ayerton and then to Michael Rothenstein, each of whom provided generous hospitality.

I hope members of another university will not feel offended that we spent only one day in Oxford, but we have been there before. Nevertheless we were delighted to be able to see the new room at the Ash mo lean Museum presented by Mr. Alistair McAlpine, our Vice Chairman. We also visited the Museum of Modern Art and St. Catherines College. In October we went to Birmingham and Coventry. At the Birmingham City Art Gallery we were received by the Director and an excellent lunch was provided. We then proceeded to the Barber Institute and William Gear’s house nearby. The following day we had a quick glimpse of Warwick University, followed by visits to the Herbert Art Gallery In Coventry, which was specially opened for us on Sunday morning, and then to the Cathedral. On the way back to London we had the opportunity of seeing Mr. Robin Chancellor’s fine inigo Jones house and collection in Northamptonshire. Our only trip abroad was a long weekend in Holland, which included journeys to North Holland, the Kroller Muller Museum in East Holland, and museums in Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Haarlem.

I think it is clear that the visits we organised exceeded in scope and interest those of any other similar organisation, and we are most grateful not only to our organising secretary but to all those artists, collectors and museum directors who so generously devoted so much of their time to entertaining us.

I regret to say that the Hon. John Sainsbury and Mr. Alexander Dunbar must now retire from the Committee by rotation, Mr. Sainsbury has been with us for many years as Honorary Secretary, Vice Chairman and an ordinary Committee member, and his advice and assistance have been invaluable. He will be greatly missed by us all. Mr. Dunbar’s work in Scotland has prevented us from seeing as much of him as I know he would have liked, but we have benefited enormously from his experience.

Since our last meeting we have co-opted five new members on to the Committee, all of whom now come up for formal election. Mr. Edward Lucie-Smith and Mr, Norbert Lynton will be well known to many of you, respectively as a distinguished poet and art critic and as an equally distinguished former art critic who is now the Exhibitions Organiser for the Arts Council. Mr. Anthony Diamond, Mr. Neville Burston and Mr. Peter Moores have all formed interesting collections in recent years in widely differing fields, it is collectors who traditionally form the main body of our Committee, a fact which has distinguished us from other similar organisations. In recent years it has not been easy to find them and I am particularly glad that we have been able to do so at last.

Honorary Treasurer’s Report
It is encouraging to be able to report that in 1973 the Society’s income from subscriptions rose again, by almost £1,850 when allowance is made for income tax recoverable on Deed of Covenant. The estimated figure for the latter went up by £1000 which provides substantial evidence of the advantage to the Society of subscribing by this method, a method which also benefits the subscriber since she or he pays only £3 a year Instead of £4 if payment is made both under Covenant and by Bankers Order. Three fifths of the total membership of over 1250 now subscribe In this way; 126 new members joined during 1973, a good number but double that would have been even better. There are still over 200 people contributing to the funds of the Society at the 1971 rate of subscription, by bankers orders which have not been changed, although these people no longer receive our notices or the other privileges of membership; naturally we welcome their contributions but we would welcome even more their return to full membership.

In addition well over 100 museums and art galleries subscribe to the society and are therefore qualified to receive works of art from us. While a number of established art dealers have long helped the Society financially and in other ways and we are most grateful to them, It should be possible to obtain increased support from this source with the recent proliferation in the number of dealers both in London and in other centres. Finally we thank those individuals and charitable trusts which have contributed to the Society but we would welcome more donations from such sources.

It is essential that the Society should have more money to spend on works of art if it is to fulfill its obligations to its subscribing galleries and museums because, as anyone who reads the newspapers knows, prices of contemporary works have shot up even more than have prices of other goods and services.

In recognition of this, your committee has decided to increase the funds allowed to the two buyers in 1974 even though this will almost certainly mean running down the Society’s reserves. For 1973, however, the amount available to each buyer was held at £3000, in view of uncertainties which prevailed during the year about both income and expenses; but this sum was not expected to cover value added tax when it was incurred on purchases of pictures or sculptures.

In the end 1973 showed a satisfactory surplus. The much larger surplus in 1972 arose from special factors, the proceeds of sales of sculpture by the Society. In 1973 the surplus of over £1100 was the result of higher income from subscriptions and Interest and also of the extremely economical way in which the office was run; expenses went up by only £230 in spite of the general rise in costs. The Organising Secretary is certainly to be congratulated on this and also on the helpful profit made on the visits and parties, to which the Chairman has already referred; all of these pleasant events are self-supporting and the proceeds add to the funds available for purchasing works of art.

List of Purchases for the year 1973

Buyer: Carol Hogben
Michael Ginsborg, Bendlck, 1972 (Acrylic/canvas)
Mike Gorman, “Mr Treadwell meets the critics ” (oil/canvas)
Alan Green, Drawing 2, 1973 (mixed media/paper)
John Hilliard, 12 & 10 Representations of’ Brighton Sea Front
John Judkins, Pop Star (acrylic/board)
John Pearson, Painting (acrylic/canvas)
John Pearson, Drawing (gouache and water-colour)
Sean Scully, Amber, 1973 (oil/canvas)
Howard Selina, “One Earth, Shipley Moor, Yorkshire and four house paint greens”
(8 panels and 1 drawing)
Mark Vaux, RBL/3L/72 (oil/canvas)
John Walker, Image No 9 (from set of 10 screenprints No 18/18)
Peter Warwick, Untitled (oil on board)
Ainslie Yule, 30473 {sculpture)

Buyer: Alexander Dunbar
Nigel Hall, Charcoal Drawing 1973
Richard Hamilton, Five Tyres Remoulded (screen-prints, collotypes etc 60/150)
David Hockney, Portrait of Cavafy 1 (etching/acquatint)
John Houston, Sunset over Moorland (oil/canvas)
Patrick Hughes, Pile of Discarded Rainbows {gloss on hardboard)
Anthony Jones, Site with Canopy (gouache)
John Knox, Big Basket, Pears and Shadow (PVA and charcoal on canvas)
Ian McCulloch, Family Group and Double Portrait, Vietnam, 1973 (PVA/canvas)
Ian McCulloch, Man and Child with Soldiers (PVA/canvas)
Robin Philipson PRSA, ARA, Retablo (oil/canvas)
Tom Phillips, “On Taking Part…1968” (water-colour)
Richard Rush, Asghar Bahari, 1970 (Water-colour)
Ian Stephenson, Diorama SS.1.67 (oil/canvas)

Gifts to the Society
Two paintings “Avebury Series 2 and 4, 1973” by Derek Jarman (presented anonymously)
Two paintings “Situation 288 and 279, 1973” by Antonio Freiies {presented by the artist)
Painting “Avenue, Soughton” by David Scott {presented by Sir Charles Clore).

To download the Contemporary Art Society Report 1973-74 (pdf) click here


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