A Tribute to Sir Colin St John Wilson

21 November - 1 December 2007

A loan exhibition of works by some of the leading Modern British Artists of the last fifty years. The show includes works by Michael Andrews, Frank Auerbach, Peter Blake, David Bomberg, Patrick Caulfield, William Coldstream, Dennis Creffield, Peter de Francia, Richard Hamilton, Nigel Henderson, R. B. Kitaj, Robert Medley, Eduardo Paolozzi, Colin Self, Walter Sickert, William Turnbull, Victor Willing.

James Hyman is proud to present a personal tribute to Sir Colin St John Wilson, one of Britain's greatest architects and art collectors of the last half-century. The exhibition follows the death of Colin St John Wilson in May this year and coincides with the 10th anniversary of the opening of the British Library in November 1997. It includes major works by leading British Pop and Figurative Artists of the last sixty years.

The exhibition includes portraits of Wilson by Michael Andrews and William Coldstream, pictures on loan from his own collection and from the works that he donated to Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, as well as paintings and drawings by artists that he particularly admired.

It was sixty years ago exactly that Wilson made his first purchase, a surrealistic collage by Eduardo Paolozzi, and it set him off on one of the great passions of his life: collecting. He would later comment on the catch in the breath and the thumping heart of love-at-first-sight that signals the next ('absolute must') acquisition.

In 1956 Wilson contributed to the famous exhibition, This is Tomorrow, a key event in the history of the Independent Group and early Pop Art. It was in these years that Wilson developed friendships with artists such as Richard Hamilton, Eduardo Paolozzi, Nigel Henderson and William Turnbull.

Subsequent friendships led to the purchase of key works by, among others Patrick Caulfield, Howard Hodgkin and R.B. Kitaj, so that Wilson later recalled of his collection: one day it demanded to be taken seriously. It quite took me over. I suddenly realised it was an entity in its own right.


A number of the artists in this exhibition are represented by James Hyman Gallery, including Michael Andrews, Dennis Creffield, Peter de Francia and Robert Medley, but to stage this tribute would have been impossible without the help of loans from public and private collections. We are very grateful to all the lenders and especially to Pallant House and M.J. Long.

James Hyman commented: "Sandy Wilson who died earlier this year was not only one of the greatest British architects of the last fifty years but also one of the greatest collectors of British figurative art of the period. Informing all this was his gift for friendship and his support and encouragement of others. I will miss his enthusiasm, his advice, his recommendations, his thirst for the latest news of artists and exhibitions and his acute observations on the art he loved. This exhibition is a celebration and also my personal tribute."

Professor Sir Colin St John Wilson, was born on March 14, 1922. He died on May 14, 2007, aged 85.

The British Library was short-listed for the RIBA Stirling Prize, 1998, and the new wing of Pallant House was short-listed for the award in 2007; it subsequently won the prestigious Gulbenkian Prize.

Sir Colin has been portrayed by Michael Andrews, William Coldstream, Howard Hodgkin, R.B. Kitaj, and sculptor Celia Scott.

He wrote two theoretical works, Architectural Reflections (1992) and The Other Tradition of Modern Architecture (1995), as well as The Artist at Work (1999), on the working methods of the painters William Coldstream and Michael Andrews.

Wilson's interest in the arts was recognised by his appointment as a trustee of the Tate Gallery (1973-80) and of the National Gallery (1977-80). He was knighted in 1998, for his services to architecture.

Installation Views