Christmas & into the New year

Whilst our Bookshops and Gallery at 105 and 106 New Bond Street will be closed for browsing until the New Year, we are still open for click and collect orders at 106 New Bond Street (1st floor), and our online shop is operating as normal. Orders will continue to be shipped at the earliest opportunity.

Shapero Modern will be closed until the New Year, but the team are available as usual by email.

Keep an eye on our blog, newsletters and social media channels for updates.

Interview | Neil Gaiman

'So this is Neil Gaiman out on the Island of Skye and you may be able to hear a little howling wind in the background...'

Our Digital Content Manager, Oliver Bayliss, recently had the pleasure of interviewing legendary author Neil Gaiman from his home on the windswept Isle of Skye (the howling wind in the background makes for a particularly evocative experience).

Discussing our online exhibition of works by renowned artist, Lorna May Wadsworth, her portraits of Neil Gaiman and her artist’s residency on set of the acclaimed dramatisation of Good Omens, the answers give a fascinating insight into not only one of our greatest living authors, but also the fine art of portraiture.

OB: How did Lorna May's artist residency come about for Good Omens and what was it like having her on set?

NG: It came about because I had met Lorna May initially at a comic relief event where she was sketching, and she sketched me. We hit it off and as Good Omens started, I thought it would be really nice to have an artist around to record some of the madness. Some of the big, strange things that were happening and I contacted Lorna May and she mentioned that she had actually already been once an on set artist and knew how to keep out of everybody's way and knew how to make friends amongst the crew, so I invited her along.

It was amazing just watching what she did with charcoal, with paints, with newspapers, with pencils, with paper and then these lightning sketches, these studies, and then, because she is Lorna May, she got both David Tennant and Michael Sheen to agree to let her do their portraits in lunchtimes and nobody had time, but you can't really say no to Lorna May, so they happened and both Michael and David loved what she did.

OB: When you and Terry Pratchett were working on Good Omens, did either of you imagine that it would take on such a life of its own, especially such cult like devotion around the characters of Aziraphale and Crowley?

NG: No! When Terry and I were working on Good Omens, all we wondered about, all we thought about, all we... our only question apart from what was going to happen next in Good Omens, which was always the big one, was would anybody, apart from us care, about this? Would anybody, apart from us, want to buy the book when we finished it? We didn't know. We could only hope. And of course people did! The glorious and wonderful afterlife of Good Omens is a magical, magical bonus.

OB: As we're rare book dealers, we have to ask, why was Aziraphale a dealer himself? I rather like the irony that his portrait is now in a rare book shop - a homecoming of sorts!

NG: So do I! I think it's because both Terry and I have spent too much of our lives in book shops and too much of our lives in second hand book shops and too much of our lives marveling at the different kinds of bookshop there are out there, the different kinds of rare book dealers out there, the ones who want to sell you a book and the ones who don't! The bookshops filled with strange angles and books piled up everywhere, that you're never going to be able to find the books; where the person looking after the bookshop knows where several thousand books are in ways that are impossible for any other human being defined and the ones in which they discourage you.

Um, all of those things we thought, plus of course we knew that The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, a rare book was going to come into this and we wanted our Angel to know what it was and to recognize it.

OB: Looking at Lorna May's portraits: firstly, do you feel she's captured the personalities of the central characters, and secondly, do you feel she captured your personality?

NG: What I love most, I think about Lorna May's portraits of David Tennant and Michael Sheen it's they don't look to me like Crowley and Aziraphale, they look to me like David and Michael, when their hair was like that to play the characters, they feel to me somehow much more like glorious portraits of the actors than they do as portraits of Crowley, portraits of Aziraphale.

I feel like she's definitely captured something in her portraits of me, I find it astonishing, I look at them and I think, do I look like? Is that me? It seems to be me. Lots of people draw me, but most of the drawings don't feel like me. They feel like the kind of images that you'd get when as a child, you'd sit in one of those photo booths and a bunch of four photos would chunk out and you'd stare at yourself and you'd think, do I look like that? Maybe I look like that.... sort of, maybe, maybe my face was wrong, maybe I'm, but you know that you couldn't actually afford to have another four photos taken, so you just sort of put up with it.

Um, Lorna May's portraits of me don't feel like that. They feel like me, I feel slightly melancholy, um, very distracted and like I'm probably thinking about something along way away, which of course when she was painting I probably was.

OB: Continuing on the theme of Good Omens, how do you think both Aziraphale and Crowley would have handled lockdown in 2020?

NG: I think that Crowley would have handled it very, very badly because Crowley likes experiences and one of the things that 2020 has told us is that experiences, going places and doing things, watching things, seeing shows, going to bars because that's where the people are, all of those things can be taken away.

Whereas I think, honestly, Aziraphale would love it. He gets to sit in his shop, gets to read all the books that he wants. He's not really bothered by customers, gets to catch up on his baking.

I think the only thing that Crowley would really like is watching human nature take its course. You know, we've gone... here we are in month eight or nine of all of this (at the time of interview), and we're at the point now where huge groups of people have decided to abandon the germ theory of disease as inconvenient and I think probably that Crowley, whatever part of him is still a demon, would love that...

Good Icons: An Online Exhibition was originally installed in both the Bookshop and our Gallery and features portraits of the iconic author Neil Gaiman, as well as works inspired by the adaptation of both his and Terry Pratchett’s book, Good Omens.

From a life-size rendering of the author’s head suspended in layers of sun-bleached wax, crafted upon a piece of prehistoric bog oak, to portraits of the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley, the exhibition is a must for art and book lovers alike.

The exhibition also features a limited edition print signed by Gaiman and Wadsworth, alongside a signed illustrated 125 page retrospective catalogue.

Good Icons: An Online Exhibition

Good Icons installed at 106 New Bond Street

Shapero Rare Books and Shapero Modern are proud to unveil an online exhibition of works by the renowned contemporary portrait artist Lorna May Wadsworth, the artist in residence for the Amazon Prime series Good Omens.

The exhibition, originally installed in both the Bookshop and our Gallery, features portraits of the iconic author Neil Gaiman, as well as works inspired by the adaptation of both his and Terry Pratchett’s book, Good Omens.

From a life-size rendering of the author’s head suspended in layers of sun-bleached wax, crafted upon a piece of prehistoric bog oak, to portraits of the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley, the exhibition is a must for art and book lovers alike.

The exhibition also features a limited edition print signed by Gaiman and Wadsworth, alongside a signed illustrated 125 page retrospective catalogue. Get in touch to order either.

'Big Neil' installed at Shapero Modern
Neil Gaiman's signature beneath the hand gilded title on the limited edition print.
Good Icons installed at 106 New Bond Street.
Study for the Bog Oak Book.
Signed Lorna May Wadsworth Retrospective Catalogue.
Artworks on the shelves at 106 New Bond Street

Art Exhibition: The Book of Neil Gaiman by Lorna May Wadsworth

Lorna May Wadsworth installs striking portraits of Neil Gaiman at Shapero Rare Books and Shapero Modern

Big Neil at Shapero Modern

Friday 30th October – Friday 13th November 2020

Shapero Modern, 41-43 Maddox Street, London, W1S 2PD

Shapero Rare Books, 106 New Bond Street, London, W1S 1DN

DUE TO THE UK LOCKDOWN, PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS EXHIBITION HAS NOW MOVED ONLINE

Renowned contemporary artist Lorna May Wadsworth (artist in residence for the Amazon Prime series Good Omens) will be exhibiting The Book of Neil Gaiman at Shapero Rare Books located in its new first floor space on New Bond Street and Big Neil at newly opened Shapero Modern in an exciting short-term exhibition.

Wadsworth rose to prominence in the contemporary art world before she had completed her postgraduate course at the prestigious Royal Drawing School, with a series of notable works, including portraits of the Rt. Hon. Lord Blunkett and the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rt. Hon. Lord Williams. One of her most acclaimed works, a monumental portrait of the late Margaret Thatcher, was completed from five life sittings. The resultant painting is one of the most commanding and respected formal portraits of a modern British Prime Minister.

The Book of Neil Gaiman, alongside two Good Omens portraits at Shapero Rare Books

Author Neil Gaiman (American Gods, Neverwhere, Coraline), shown in these works at both Shapero spaces, is one of the most treasured storytellers of our time. In Big Neil Wadsworth has captured Gaiman ‘god sized’, in a 2 metre large head, echoing his epic early novel American Gods. In casting Neil as the omnipotent narrator Wadsworth echoes the adoration in which he is held by his fans; an ardent fervour usually associated with rock stars, not those who sit atop the New York Times bestseller list.

Accompanying this, Wadsworth’s portrait The Book of Neil Gaiman is a life-size rendering of the author’s head suspended in layers of sun-bleached wax, crafted upon a piece of prehistoric bog oak which lay forgotten within the cold dark earth for thousands of years. The double-sided portrait, of both the front and back of his head, is manifested within the form of something almost book shaped. It is a piece which seems both ancient relic and other worldly. Indeed, time is contained and condensed within this dark, dense tome which will never open.

The Book of Neil Gaiman at Shapero Rare Books

Also at Shapero Rare Books, Wadsworth will exclusively unveil her preparatory studies which reveal the fascinating progress of developing this technique, inspired by the wax Fayum mummy portraits of the dead.

Wadsworth has always challenged the portrait tradition and a recurrent theme throughout her work is the inversion of the gendered gaze. Highlights from her career include her contemporary interpretation of Leonardo’s Last Supper fresco and her dazzling portraits of such celebrated sitters as actors David Tennant and Sir Derek Jacobi, award winning film maker Richard Curtis and an other former Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Tony Blair.

Shapero Rare Books & Shapero Modern CEO Bernard Shapero with the artist Lorna May Wadsworth

‘What is a Print?’ by Gallery Director Tabitha Philpott-Kent

Artists have long supplemented their larger practice by making prints: original works, usually on paper, created in numbered editions and produced in collaboration with some kind of press.

There are many different types of prints, and the process is constantly evolving, but below our Gallery Director Tabitha explores the four most common techniques you will hear about:

Etching

Using an etching needle, an artist scratches an image onto a metal plate covered with wax. This plate is then submerged in acid, which eats into the metal exposed by the scratched lines. The longer the plate is left in the acid, the deeper and darker the line will be. The plate is cleaned, inked, and cleaned again, leaving only the incised lines filled with ink. Dampened paper and a protective cloth are placed over the plate, which is squeezed through an etching press — the pressure forcing the paper into the etched lines to pick up the ink. The image is printed in reverse, and an indentation, known as the ‘plate mark’, is left by the plate’s edges.

Lithography

The artist draws onto stone or a plate (often metal, but other materials can be used) using a grease-based medium — normally special lithographic crayons, or greasy ink known as tusche. The plate is then treated with a chemical solution that ensures the image will attract printing ink, and that blank areas repel ink and attract water. A solvent fixes the image, and the surface is dampened with water. Oil-based ink is then applied to the stone with a roller, adhering only to the image. Finally, the plate is placed on a lithographic press and covered with damp paper and board — a pressure bar ensuring force is evenly applied across the image. The image is printed in reverse, with separate plates used for complex images and multiple colours. This technique allows the artists to freehand draw which makes the final work much more painterly.

Screenprint/ Silkscreen

An image is cut into a sheet of paper or plastic film, creating a stencil. This stencil is then placed in a frame, which has a layer of fine mesh stretched across it, forming a ‘screen’ (initially silk was used, hence one will often see the term Silkscreen). A sheet of paper is placed below the screen, and ink is pushed through the stencil from above, using a rubber blade or squeegee. Only cut-out portions of the stencil print. In addition to stencils, a photographic image can be reproduced on the screen using light-sensitive gelatins. This technique has the effect of layered paint.

Woodcut

An image is sketched on a block of wood before the surface is carved into with gouging tools. The resulting raised portions of the block are then coated in ink using a roller. A sheet of paper is placed on top and pressure is applied, leaving an impression of the block’s raised areas in reverse. Woodcut is the oldest printmaking process

Original Print or Copy?

Original prints are distinct works independent from any other body of the artist’s work, an image that is made and then transferred to paper via ink as many times as the edition requires. Fine art prints result from a close collaboration between the artist and the print studio. Printers — the people who work with the artist to produce an edition — are highly skilled technicians, and are often artists in their own right, they are typically referred to as Master Printers.

As a result they are true works of art, and as important to the artist’s oeuvre as drawings or other works on paper.

An original print is a unique artwork, it is generally produced as a limited number of impressions, known as an edition, and each print is given an edition number, typically written as a fraction — for example, 24/50. The number to the right of the slash indicates the edition size while the figure to the left is the individual print’s number. Numbering the print is often done by the print studio.

An artist may also produce a limited number of artist’s proofs, often marked A/P, that are identical in nature to the standard edition. Here again, fractions may be used to indicate the total number of proofs, and the print number (e.g. A/P 1/4). Other proofs may be made at an earlier stage, as the artist and printer develop an image or test different compositions. These are known as state proofs, trial proofs or colour proofs. These can be unique, with differences in colour combinations, paper types or size.

There are often proofs reserved as a gift for the printer, these are known as Printer’s Proofs and will often have PP written on them.

When the image is perfected, a proof is made and signed B.A.T. (an abbreviation of the French bon à tirer, or ‘ready to print’). The rest of the edition is matched to this image, which is unique and traditionally kept by the printer.

Hors commerce is French for 'before trade.' You may see this on a print as H.C. These proofs are typically reserved for the publisher, but are often released into the market as well.

Are all prints signed? What does it mean if I find a print without an artist’s signature?

The majority of the prints sold are signed — though not all prints are issued with a signature. Warhol and Picasso both stamp-signed some of their prints, and some larger portfolio editions were only signed on the title page. Don’t be alarmed if a print is only initialed. It doesn’t mean that it is worth less — indeed, some artists only initial their prints.

How should I care for my print?

How you frame your print is the most important long-term decision you make when it comes to caring for and keeping the piece. Make sure you go to a reputable framer: it’s worth paying for a print to be properly mounted using the right materials and use UV perspex or glass.

Three key tips: if a print has bright colours, don’t hang it in direct sunlight; ensure a print is kept away from any source of moisture; don’t trim the sheet to try to fit it into a smaller frame.

‘The Artist in their Studio’ by Gallery Manager Costanza

Artists’ studios are the perfect place to see and understand the creative process that makes an artist unique. Studios can be small and tidy places or big messy warehouses, as well as everything in between. When you enter an artist’s studio, you are entering into their most intimate and private world. This is why artist studios are so special and why they are often inaccessible.

One of the most well-known artist studios is The Factory, where Andy Warhol created his artworks.  It was not only a place to create work, but also somewhere to meet the many important people who came to pay court, and a space where he managed the process of creating art and print-making.

Andy Warhol had always been interested in printmaking in order to pursue his goal to ‘industrialise’ art. The process of printing multiple copies of the same image is also art according to Andy Warhol. In The Factory, he explored and refined the screen printing technique creating his most famous masterpieces.

However, an artist’s studio is not necessarily a confined space. It can include different environments, even city streets.  Keith Haring started his art in streets and in underground walkways until the opening of POP SHOP, a shop/gallery in which he could sell his art.

For Haring, printmaking was a fertile ‘middle-ground,’ a natural bridge between his unique works and the reproduction of his imagery on affordable apparel, posters, buttons and other commercial products. Haring experimented with numerous printmaking techniques throughout his career, even as he was investigating diverse media in his unique work, and simultaneously seeking alternative channels for promoting and sustaining the accessibility of his increasingly popular imagery.

Artist’s studios can also be collective spaces. Artists such as Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, who had a prolific career with printmaking, were frequent visitors of the Curwen Press Studio in London.  The studio was the focal point of print creators and makers in London in the 20th century. Very quickly, it became the centre of culture and art among all artists in London, with the studio becoming space where artists were given the opportunity of learning about printmaking techniques under the guidance of skilled experts.

Here great artists like Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore had the chance to acquire the skills of printmaking and create the many of their renowned prints.

Click here, or on any of the artist images to see all the available prints in our Mayfair Gallery

Shapero Rare Books COVID-19 Response

An Update from 32 Saint George Street

As measures to slow the pace of COVID-19 within the United Kingdom are brought into place, please be assured that Shapero Rare Books are prioritising the health and safety of both our staff and our customers.

From Tuesday 17th March, 2020 our Bookshop and Gallery at 32 St George Street, will be open by appointment for business and we would ask anyone planning a visit to telephone 020-7493 0876 or email rarebooks@shapero.com beforehand.

Whilst we will have a skeleton staff at the Bookshop, many of our booksellers and gallery staff will be working from home for the foreseeable future and we will be forwarding calls to them from 32 St George Street, however the whole team will be available by email as usual.

In the meantime, we have taken the precaution of cancelling planned Bookshop events and Gallery openings until the beginning of May.  This will include the launch of the Jon Wealleans show ‘Postcards’ which will now take place later in the year.

Whilst COVID-19 presents an enormous challenge to everyone around the globe, we would like to assure you that the Scholium Group of Companies, including Shapero Rare Books, will endeavour to provide the same level of service as you have come to expect.

 

The Best Exhibitions & Events in November 2019

The nights are getting longer and the mercury is sinking lower, but there’s no excuse to stay at home this November. The Shapero team have picked the best exhibitions and events for November 2019 both in London and further afield.

Egyptian treasures, surrealist photography, book fairs and more make the cut in the first of our monthly round ups of the best in culture.

What: Marie-Antoinette: Metamorphoses of an Image

When: Ongoing until 26th January 2020

Where: Conciergerie, Paris

Only a handful of historic figures have been the subject of such an abundance of representations.  Marie-Antoinette is one of these, both during her lifetime and more notably after her death.  Even today, this queen-turned-icon is still a key emblem in popular culture.

The exhibition illustrates the many representations of her through almost 200 works, artefacts, heritage and contemporary archives, never-before-seen interviews, film extracts and more.

What: The ABA Chelsea Rare Book Fair 2019

When: 1st - 2nd November

Where: Chelsea Old Town Hall

Held each autumn in the beautiful and historic Chelsea Old Town Hall, this 29th edition of the Fair brings together more than 80 exhibitors from all round the world, including Shapero Rare Books, Stand 43.

For those of you who plan their Christmas shopping in advance (as opposed to the mad dash many do come Christmas eve), this is the perfect place to find the perfect present for the bibliophile in your life!

What: TUTANKHAMUN: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh

When: 2nd November - 3rd May 2020

Where: Saatchi Gallery

The third stop in a record-breaking global tour that has seen both Paris and Los Angeles play host to the boy pharaoh.  In LA the exhibition was among the most successful in the history of the California Science Centre, while in Paris it became France's most attended exhibition of all time with over 1.4 million visitors!

Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb, it will be the final chance for Londoners to see these glittering world heritage artefacts before they return to Egypt forever.

Exploring the life of King Tutankhamun, and the history of the discovery that captivated the world, there are more than 150 authentic pieces from the tomb, 60 of which are travelling outside of Egypt for the first time.

What: Marvellous and Mischievous: Literature's Young Rebels

When: 8th November – 1st March 2020

Where: The British Library

A free, family-friendly exhibition exploring rebels in classic children’s literature.

Roald Dahl's handwritten drafts of Matilda sit alongside Quentin Blake's iconic illustrations, as well as other enduring classics from The Secret Garden to Where the Wild Things Are.

The annual Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair, is a key event in any book collector’s calendar. Run under the aegis of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA), it draws in a wide selection of exhibitors from America and abroad (including Shapero Rare Books), and attracts a diverse range of collectors.

If you're attending do drop by Stand 519 to say hi to Bernard, Jeffrey and Roddy.

What: Dora Maar

When: 20th November – 15 March 2020

Where: Tate Modern

Exploring the breadth of Dora Maar’s long career in the context of work by her contemporaries, this is the largest retrospective of the Surrealist photographer ever held in the UK.

During the 1930s, Maar’s provocative photomontages became celebrated icons of surrealism. Her eye for the unusual also translated to her commercial photography, including fashion and advertising, as well as to her social documentary projects.

What: Troy: Myth and Reality

When: 21st November – 8 March 2020

Where: British Museum

A legend that’s endured for more than 3,000 years, the story of the city of Troy, plunged into a 10-year war over the abduction of the most beautiful woman in the world, is irresistibly dramatic and tragic.

This allure has sent adventurers and archaeologists in quest of the lost city, which is now widely believed to have existed. But what of the characters and main players who are said to have taken part in the Trojan war? This exhibition explores these captivating characters, bringing them to life through some truly breath-taking art.

What: Quentin Blake: An Anthology of Readers

When: 29th November - 22nd December

Where: Shapero Rare Books

Yes, yes, we know! It's our exhibition! But we couldn't include a round up of the best exhibitions in November without including it.

Opening on the 29th November 2019, An Anthology of Readers is comprised of seventy-two new pen, ink & watercolour drawings by the much-loved Quentin Blake, all of which affectionately caricature people who love books - the perfect Christmas present for any bibliophile.

Head over to the blog to read an interview we were lucky to do with the great artist.

What: Antony Gormley

When: Ongoing until 3rd December 2019

Where: Royal Academy of Arts

Following in the footsteps of Ai Weiwei and Anselm Kiefer, Antony Gormley is the next artist to take over the Main Galleries at the RA.

Testing the scale and light of the RA’s architecture, this is the most ambitious exhibition seen from the artist in more than ten years.

Shapero Rare Books and Shapero Modern feature in Tatler and Forbes

The past month has seen Shapero Rare Books and our Gallery, Shapero Modern included in Tatler and Forbes magazines respectively.

 

Tatler - The best rare book shops in London

 

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'Shapero, with its blue-painted shelves heaving with leather-bound volumes, is a quiet literary sanctuary. They’re especially good on illustrated books – from the fifteenth to twentieth centuries, and they have a gallery too, Shapero Modern, holding exhibitions of their modern and contemporary prints.'

To read the full article, please click here

 

Forbes - Highlights from Frieze Masters 2018

 

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'Robert Indiana at Shapero Modern.... "The American Dream" is a true collector's piece, a set of 30 screen prints in colours by the late pop artist Robert Indiana and poems by Robert Creeley, bound in black leather. It includes a print of one of the most widely recognised works of the in the world: 'LOVE'. Robert Indiana's works all speak to the vital forces that have shaped the American culture in the last half of the 20th century.....'

To read the full article, please click here

Shapero @ Frieze Masters 2018

Claes Oldenburg, Profile Airflow, numbered 68/75 signed, titled and dated in pencil
Claes Oldenburg, Profile Airflow, numbered 68/75 signed, titled and dated in pencil

We are delighted to be exhibiting once more at Frieze Masters in London’s Regent’s Park this week. This annual showcase of art, from ancient antiquity to the late 20th century, has become one of the key events on the international art scene, featuring galleries from all over the world.

This year we will have on display on our Stand (G21) an exciting selection from Shapero Modern, including Claes Oldenburg’s seminal vehicle for Pop Art, Profile Airflow from 1968 (featured above) and works by Roy Lichtenstein.  Please click the image here to view our Fair Catalogue for Frieze Masters 2018.

Frieze Masters 2018 | Fair Catalogue
Frieze Masters 2018 | Fair Catalogue
LICHTENSTEIN, Roy. Imperfect Diptych from the Imperfect Series, signed and numbered 21/45
LICHTENSTEIN, Roy. Imperfect Diptych from the Imperfect Series, signed and numbered 21/45