Victoria Beckham and Andy Warhol. Who would have Adam and Eved it? The former pop singer-turned-fashion designer’s flagship shop on Dover Street in Mayfair was the perfect setting for some of Warhol’s seminal works — Dollar Sign, Flowers, Self Portrait (Fright wig), as Sotheby’s entrusted 12 of its most valuable assets with the former Spice Girl. Not that you would even associate her with the banalities of that era. She scrubbed up pretty well, stepping out in fitted flared black trousers and frilled blouse at the beginning of Frieze Week — one the most important weeks on the contemporary art calendar when serious art collectors descend in their droves on London, attracted like moths to the surfeit of creative talent on show across the capital.
The exhibition of Warhols, available for private purchase through Sotheby’s, is the third collaboration between Beckham and the gallery. Beckham who has her atelier in Hammersmith, west London, had always envisioned her Mayfair store as a versatile outlet for creativity. The re-imagination of a once neglected townhouse by architect Farshid Moussavi with its clean sight-lines and minimalist tones makes the 560-square-metre space the perfect canvass for showcasing art to great effect.
“I have always been interested in contemporary art and David and I have been collecting for a long time now – so this exhibition feels extra special. I remain fascinated by the stories the pieces shown in my store tell, and hope others that visit will feel the same.”VICTORIA BECKHAM
Sotheby’s soon got on the act using the space for its first ever art exhibition in a retail setting. In its first outing the store showcased the work of Old Masters in June 2018, and a second, celebrating the work of leading female artists from the 16th to the 19th centuries later in December.
Beckham tells Vogue: “I have always been interested in contemporary art and David and I have been collecting for a long time now – so this exhibition feels extra special. I remain fascinated by the stories the pieces shown in my store tell, and hope others that visit will feel the same.” But it is an ironic story of predator turned patron as high-end boutiques like Beckham’s have been blamed for driving out art galleries from their traditional Mayfair base, driving rents through the roof. From Bond Street to Cork Street, many galleries have had to vacate their street-level galleries and move into upper floors where they lack visibility.
The synergy between fashion and an art has always existed, and in recent years Sotheby’s has orchestrated collaborations with stylists and designers. The roll-call has included; Roksanda Ilincic; Victoria Beckham and millionaire make-up artist Pat McGrath. It makes savvy business sense as moneyed collectors often have a refined fashion palate. Paul Smith’s Albermarle Street flagship is a cross between art gallery and fashion shop. Dressing up can be art in itself as legendary Mexican artist Frida Khalo demonstrated. This year, MatchesFashion.com, the fashion e-commerce behemoth has laid on a whole week of Frieze Week schedule of talks and networking at its London flagship shop.
Posh (Beckham’s moniker in the all-girl band) was the affable hostess as she welcomed an eclectic crowd to her eponymous boutique alongside husband David and aspiring photographer son, Brooklyn. The Don Julio 1942 tequila bottles were inscribed with her initials, VB, while the clothes on the rails bore her signature slim, fitted silhouette. Thirty-six Dover Street is still a long way from The Factory, the infamous New York studio Warhol ran between 1962 and 1984, but the pull factors of celebrity, status, fame and wealth are potent currencies they both share. Beckham has no Warhol hanging in her Holland Park home, but she won’t mind Self Portrait (Fright wig).
The moral here is that no-one needs an Art of History degree to fall in love with collecting or to cultivate a love of art. Collectors can indeed come in all shapes and sizes, in both old and new money.
Andy Warhol, Victoria Beckham, 36 Dover Street, London until 4 October 2019