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OPENING EXHIBITION - ‘SMOKING GUNS ILLUSTRATING THE SIXTIES’

9 December - DUE TO DEMAND NOW OPEN UNTIL March 2017 

‘Smoking Guns: Illustrating the Sixties’ focuses on an influential group of commercial artists who flourished in London’s thriving advertising, film and publishing scene during that pivotal era. Sixties lifestyle illustration provides crucial evidence of just how radically we saw ourselves changed in the first true decade of consumerism.

We didn’t know it then but this was the heyday of print media. For an all too fleeting moment, before the rise of the playboy photographer, illustrators were the sought after go to people. Commissioned by a new generation of visionary art directors and editors, their work graced the covers of popular fiction, advertisements, film posters and newly launched colour magazines. Due to the proliferation of mass media their imagery helped redefine both the cultural aspirations and day-to-day style for society in general and not just the trendsetting elite.

Collectively the huge output of these highly individual illustrators, each with his or her own style, portrays a time and culture that Matt Weiner mined when he created Mad Men. Their work synthesised new ideas and styles from Europe and the USA using consciously cinematic imagery, abstract application of colour, collage and experimental composition. This new energy was married to high end artistic and old-style draughtsmanship skills. Each hand drawn line and brush-stroke, free of Photoshop and other digital effects resonant of its era.

The exhibition will feature more than 50 originals of published work by artists including Gianetto Coppola, Gino D’Achille, Pino Dell’Orco, Renato Fratini, Giorgio di Gaspari, Michael Johnson, Ian Roberston, Nicola Simbari, Walter Wyles and Harry Zelinski. Included in the exhibition are reference photographs by the artists and their contemporaries, including Enzo Ragazzini who photographed London throughout the sixties. Together these present a rare and authentic glimpse of the vibrant creative scene that waved goodbye to post-war austerity.