Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon’s favorite London haunt – the Colony Room – is being immortalized in a new exhibition titled, The Colony Room: Masterpieces from Gallant House Gallery.
The Colony Rooms came into existence in 1948 in a dreary post-war London with strict licensing laws (- very unpopular with the artists and writers of the day) as Muriel Belcher, the landlady decided to overcome both the dreariness and the laws.
At the time it was place where the likes of Bacon, Freud, Frank Auerbach, Richard Hamilton and R.B.Kitaj (The Architects, pictured) all congregated (and eventually painted), Bacon calling it “an oasis where the inhibitions of sex and class are dissolved.” And it’s popularity with artists only continued throughout the decades, long after the war and even after Belcher’s death in 1979; with the YBA’s joining the crowd in the ‘90s – seeing the likes of Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst; and writer du jour, Will Self.
The paintings on display in the exhibition will be from the Colony Room’s regulars, each helping demonstrate the atmosphere there. Highlights including Lucian Freud’s Self-Portrait (with Hyacinth in Pot), Frank Auerbach’s Oxford Street Building Site, and Michael Andrews’ Colony Room 1, depicting Jeffrey Bernard, Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, and Muriel Belcher herself.
Bonham Director of Post-War and Contemporary Art, Garth Williams said recently in a statement, “This exhibition at Bonhams is a rare opportunity to explore the world which they moved and the history of the famous – some might say infamous – Colony Room where boundaries were there to be broken.”
The exhibition coincides nicely, with London Frieze, running a short run from 2nd to 11th October. Admission is free.