A Strong Sweet Smell of Incense – A Portrait of Robert Fraser, Curated by Brian Clarke, Pace London, 6 Burlington Gardens, London, W1, until 28th March 2015
This is a very special and personal exhibition concentrating on the noted art dealer Robert Fraser whose gallery in the 1960s and the 80s was the pre-eminent gallery in London. He was an advocate of Neo-Expressionism, Pop Art and Op Art and first opened the Robert Fraser Gallery in 1962 with a show of works by Jean Dubuffet. Over the years he exhibited many other artists including Jim Dine, Claes Oldenburg and Brian Clarke who is the curator of this present exhibition.
Fraser was not just a gallery owner but a power force and despite living in India for much of the 1970s on his return the gallery was once again a centre not only for art but also for music and culture. Fraser introduced the Beatles to Peter Blake and subsequently was involved in the Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover.
Fraser is depicted in a portrait by Basquiat and in Richard Hamilton’s Swingeing London 67 screenprint that reproduces the famous image of Fraser and Mick Jagger handcuffed together in a police van, and in various documentary photographs and his office has also been recreated.
This is in some ways a bitter-sweet exhibition because it recalls times gone by but it is definitely one that should not be missed.