Banksy, Emin and Moss feature in auction of 'very best of British'

Bonhams sale entitled ‘British. Cool.’ includes art, fashion, photography and music memorabilia

The auction house Bonhams has turned to patriotism to promote a sale of recent UK art, which it claims puts the “great” into Britain.

The collection “British. Cool.” includes art by Banksy, Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, as well as clothes by Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen and photographs by David Bailey, Terry O’Neill and Richard Young.

A Vivienne Westwood corset gown.
A Vivienne Westwood corset gown. Photograph: Karl Bartley/Bonhams

Bonhams’ head of sales, Janet Hardie, said the sale “brings together some of the very best of British”.

The auction house’s sales pitch has echoes of Boris Johnson’s post-Brexit rhetoric about the UK’s “world-beating” performance: “British. Cool. is a cross-departmental sale of works of art, photographs, designer fashion and entertainment memorabilia, exploring what really gives Britain the right to the prefix ‘great’.”

It adds: “For a small island, Britain has undeniably had a disproportionate cultural impact on the world – and whether it’s postwar art or post-punk music, Britain has made its mark. In British. Cool., Bonhams will showcase a diverse range of British and émigré talent from the last one hundred years.”

The sale includes much 1960s nostalgia, including James Bond movie posters, clothes by Biba and Zandra Rhodes, and an image of the rock band the Who draped in a union jack flag.

It also includes work by British-Nigerian multidisciplinary artist Yinka Ilori, whom Bonhams invited to curate a selection of his favourite pieces from the sale.

The collection also includes many artists and artefacts associated with 1990s Britart and Britpop, including clothes by Paul Smith, a photograph of Damon Albarn, and art by Julian Opie.

Jeff Beck, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page
Jeff Beck, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page at the Old Racoon, London, in 1983. Photographed by Richard Young. Photograph: Bonhams

There is also an image of the model Kate Moss by the light artist Chris Levine, which was donated by the model. Proceeds from the item, which it is estimated will fetch up to £30,000, will be donated to Oxfam.

In a statement the charity said: “We are grateful to Kate Moss for the generous donation of this striking lenticular 3D print and for her support for Oxfam over the years. All funds raised from the purchase of this item will support Oxfam’s work to tackle poverty around the world.”

The sale will be held on 25 February.


Matthew Weaver

The GuardianTramp

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