In 1863, John Curwen started producing books, posters and music manuscripts. Some time later, in 1920, Oliver Simon joined the company and forged links between Curwen and the Royal College of Art which turned Curwen Press into ‘an agent of cultural change’, commissioning work from leading artists including Edward Bawden, Claud Lovat Fraser, Paul Nash and Eric Ravilious and Edward McKnight Kauffer. From the 1930s the Press produced prints from the best British artists including Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, John Piper, Ceri Richards, William Scott, Alan Davie and Elisabeth Frink. In 1977 the Tate Gallery held an exhibition “Artists at Curwen”, with a further exhibition and publication in 2008
The Curwen gallery is one of the oldest in Fitrovia. John Hutchings joined the gallery in the 1960’s and, in 1978, the Business Art Galleries was established as a joint enterprise between Curwen Gallery and the Royal Academy, carrying out many commissions to provide artworksfor commercial and public-sector clients.
In 1982 John and his wife Jill took over and the two galleries operated from different sides of Windmill Street until they merged in 2005 at number 34 as the Curwen and New Academy Gallery.
The gallery has held auctions during its life, and I have acquired artworks by great British artists at excellent prices at these. Sadly, John died a few years ago and now the gallery is closing with a final auction, following on from a successful virtual auction last night.
Best wishes to Jill for the future. Jill and John supported both established artists and new talent and new graduates. With the closure of the Gallery, who in Vitruvian will do this?