LOPF Online | The Platform for Prints

Collector's Choice


Digby Warde-Aldam is a freelance journalist and writer who writes the Art Section for The Week Magazine. He contributes to Apollo Magazine, The Guardian, The Spectator and many other publications. Below he chooses his top picks from LOPF Online.


David Hockney: Cleanliness is next to Godliness (1965), Peter Harrington : David Hockney is celebrated as one of the greatest draughtsman of the past half century for good reason. But anyone who says they love his work unconditionally is either stupid, blind or lying: for all his inarguable brilliance, he is more than capable of producing phenomenally annoying art, visual jokes that nearly always come across as teeth-grindingly winsome or infuriatingly zany. Nevertheless, I love this one: it’s a really memorable and genuinely funny composition created with virtuoso economy. It works because Hockney makes it look easy - though for him, goddamn him, it probably is.

William Tillyer: House and Garden, 1973, Bernard Jacobson: I first saw this image reproduced in a catalogue at Bernard Jacobson’s gallery about 10 years ago, and I’ve coveted it ever since. If you’re not familiar with William Tillyer, I envy you the chance to discover his art.

Dox Thrash, Yacom, 1937, Dolan Maxwell : Dox Thrash was a fascinating figure, a teenage economic migrant from the Deep South who served as a Buffalo Soldier in the First World War and went on to become a master printmaker. Above all, though, he was a first-rate artist whose depictions of African American Philadelphia crackle with psychological intensity. This is a great example of his work. We’ll never know exactly what is going through the mind of the young man pictured here at the moment of portrayal, but the look of sudden alertness on his face is enough to give you the shivers for days.

Louis Legrand, Self Portrait as Christ, 1895, Emanuel von Baeyer : You’ve got to love an artist with the obnoxiousness to picture himself as the saviour of mankind - and few come quite as obnoxious as the creator of this bizarre picture. Louis Legrand (literal translation: “Louis the Great”) is chiefly famous for his supremely pervy drawings, notably a charming example that depicted the novelist Emil Zola staring up a stripper’s bum through a magnifying glass. Here, however, Legrand takes delusional nominative determinism to its grandiose extreme, portraying himself in God-drag as he waves a hand to forgive us our sins. Even by this artist’s standards, it’s bananas.

Jolan Gross-Bettelheim, High Level Bridge With Cuyahoga River, c.1940, Catherine Burns : I’ve spent quite a lot of time travelling between the East Coast and Midwest of the USA, but I doubt I’ll ever be anything but awestruck at the sight of the region’s extraordinary industrial architecture. Though much of it is now in an advanced state of decay, the factories, bridges and leviathan grain silos that dot the landscape stand as towering, utilitarian monuments to American dynamism and past economic might. Jolan Gross-Bettelheim, a Hungarian emigrant who arrived in Ohio in the 1920s, envisions one of the colossal railway bridges crossing the Cuyahoga river as a structure pregnant with energy, so vast that it defies the confines of the image; the river below seems puny by comparison. Quite how she felt about it is ambiguous: is the light illuminating the cantilevers the glow of progress or the glimmer of hellfire?

Lucas Cranach the Younger, Philipp Melanchthon, 1558, C.G. Boerner : The Protestant reformer Philipp Melanchthon was nobody’s idea of a great beauty, and his portraitists - who included some of the greatest artists of his time - evidently didn’t seek to disguise it. Lucas Cranach the Younger’s woodcut gives us a scrawny, balding figure with a face that looks like it has absorbed more than its fair share of the world’s woes. The fur clinging to the collar of his overgarments, meanwhile, is rendered so vividly that you can practically smell the corpse of the animal that died to make it. But perhaps uniquely amongst the zealous Reformists of the 16th century, Melanchthon was famously good company - a gregarious, generous host remembered especially for his kindness. You could look this all up on Wikipedia, of course (I did), but why bother when the benevolent expression of Cranach’s likeness tells you all you need to know?

Sidsel Westbo: Yellow Door, 2019, Kunstverket Galleri : Sidsel Westbo is a new one on me, but the etchings she is showing with Oslo’s Kunstverket Galleri are great. They evoke a lot obvious proto-modernist references - Mondrian, Bauhaus design, Constructivism - but the chief inspiration seems to be more functional than art historical. She seems to be taking the aesthetic of mid-century architectural diagrams - the sort of things you find printed on yellowing paper in second hand art bookshops - and celebrating them not as plans for notional buildings, but as beautiful things in their own right. I’m sure I’m totally wrong about her inspirations and intentions, but I like her work a lot all the same.