neil cummings

Benefit Auction

The Bigger Splash was a Benefit Auction for the Whitechapel Gallery
The London Art Fair, Islington, London, 17th November 2001


Hume Water PaintingA long time ago, I was asked by the Whitechapel Gallery, London, to contribute an artwork for the Bigger Splash Benefit Auction, to raise funds for their public programme. Each invited artist was supplied with watercolour paints, paper and brushes.

I wondered what kind of watercolours would collectors of contemporary art like? Of course, they like what other collectors like them like. I thought, what paintings are popular? Gary Hume paintings are very, very popular. I decided to make two Gary Hume watercolours from the catalogue of the Whitechapel exhibition in 1999; from his Water Painting series.

Like this one (left) now (already?) in the Tate Collection

Following his usual practice, Hume enlarged and traced silhouettes of women from found photographic imagery onto aluminium, offsets and superimposes them, then paints flat, high-key, household gloss monochrome grounds. The outlines float, fluctuate and ripple, producing his familiar seductive, sexy, abstracted paintings. I extended the process by tracing photographic reproduction of the paintings from the Whitechapel catalogue, transferred them to paper, masked the wiry tracings, and then laid down flat-wash watercolour backgrounds. Water Painting mutations.

The watercolours are beautiful, they look as though Gary Hume produced them, and most Art Fair visitors thought he had produced them. Although, there was no intention to deceive, the paintings were clearly credited to me. The watercolours did extremely well for the Whitechapel at auction. One of the two was bought by a collector and given to the retiring director of the Whitechapel, Catherine Lampert as a gift. The other was hastily purchased by Gary Hume's gallerist, Jay Joplin of White Cube, obviously to support the Whitechapel, but also to keep the painting out of the market-place.  Makes sense.


Other artists who kindly donated work to A Bigger Splash include; Fiona Banner, David Batchelor, Sonia Boyce, Tony Bevan, Ian Davenport, Peter Doig, Tracey Emin, Mark Francis, Anya Gallaccio, Cathy de Monchaux, Paul Morrison, Paul Noble, Chris Ofili, Julian Opie, Grayson Perry, Bob & Roberta Smith, Wolfgang Tillmans, Shafique Uddin, Jessica Voorsanger, Rachel Whiteread, Alison Wilding, and Paul Winstanley.




The project is related to Circulating Artworks, Not Me  and Still Life 1914.



51.5358, -0.1063

London Art Fair
Business Design Centre
52 Upper Street
N1 0QH
United Kingdom

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