SHOWS, AUCTIONS & EXHIBITIONS
Whitford Fine Art Celebrating its 40th Anniversary Year Offering Extraordinary "Artist-Designed" Silk Squares by Zika Ascher
Acquiring the archived stock of the Zika Ascher Studios was a great achievement for Whitford Fine Art in London. Ascher is one of the 20th century’s best known fabric designers and fabric printers whose fame was insured when French couturier Christian Dior became the first to use his silk squares printed with large flowers in his 1952 fashion collection. Other Parisian couture houses soon followed and at one time Elsa Schiaparelli, Cristobal Balenciaga, Pierre Cardin and LANVIN were all using Ascher’s “artist-designed squares” as they were known, as well as designers for HM Queen Elizabeth II, and Diana, Princess of Wales.
Whitford Fine Art Director An Jo Fermon says, “Zika Ascher is famous for incorporating artists in his designs and for showing these silk squares as fine art in a gallery. Ascher asked important artists such as Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Jean Cocteau, Marie Laurencin, Andre Derain, Alexander Calder and Oscar Dominguez to contribute designs which were printed under Ascher’s supervision in 1946-47 and first shown as wall hangings at the Lefevre Gallery in London in 1947.”
Born in Prague, Ascher made his way to Oslo and then London to flee the Nazis. “Ascher founded an innovative textile business that was acclaimed not just for persuading leading artists to create original prints on silk squares, but also for pioneering the development of mohair, cheesecloth and romantic lacy fabrics that were often seen on fashion catwalks throughout the 1950s-80s,” Fermon adds. “Sometimes as many as 15 ‘artist-designed squares’ were used to make a single couture dress.
“Zika Ascher was really ahead of his time. Examples of his studio’s work created excitement wherever they were shown. As early as 1948 Carson, Pirie Scott and Company, the Chicago department store, presented his collection and both Liberty’s of London and Harvey Nichols showed his silk squares. Today virtually every name designer has a silk scarf range but that was quite unique six decades ago.”
Fermon says that the Ascher Studio remained a family business, headed by Zika Ascher and his glamorous wife, Lida, until his death in 1992. “Lida was a walking advertisement for his unique fabric designs,” Fermon says. “We are delighted to be the main representatives sharing this creative legacy with connoisseurs today who recognize his genius.”
For more than 40 years the London-based, Whitford Fine Art gallery has shown 20th century artists whose works have continued to mesmerize and enchant art lovers decades after their creation.
Australian-born art dealer Adrian Mibus and his Belgian-born partner, An Jo Fermon, have offered paintings and sculptures by some of the most respected artists of the 20th century. Mibus says, “Like art, fashion can be fickle. But real talent whether in paintings, sculpture or fabric design stands the test of time and rewards collectors who buy with a long term view.”
At the Palm Beach Jewelry, Art & Antiques Show, February 15 – 19th, Whitford Fine Art will show an exciting mix of works that range from mid-century French and British artists to stars of Cubist and Post war Abstraction, to signature Pop Art and sculpture.
Credited early in his career for his “rediscovery” of 20th century modernist painters such as Lurcat, Marcoussis and Souverbie, Mibus also sparked the revival of a mix of artists of the Orientalist, Vienna Secession and Belle Epoque schools in the years before most galleries had taken note of their staying power among serious collectors.
“Our forty years in business gives us an edge with both old clients and new. Customers of Whiteford Fine Art have seen works they bought at our urging become seriously appreciated -both in value and renown.”
A member of the Society of London Art Dealers with an impressive gallery on Duke Street St. James’s in the heart of Mayfair, Whitford Fine Art maintains an enormous inventory of 2500 works by more than a hundred artists ranging from Arman and Clive Barker, the subject of An Jo Fermon’s first major book, to Pol Bury, Calder, Cocteau, Valmier, Van Dongen, Leger, Gleizes, Andre Lhote, Dominguez and many others.
Fermon says, “We are dealers in investment stock which allows our clients to benefit from our commitment to build a relationship, not just make a sale. We also greatly value the knowledge of those who appreciate a period we have long championed – the Arts of the Modernist movement between 1906 and 1940. Our American clients know that with a committed dealer they can start their collections now and continue to get guidance and advice as their tastes and lifestyles change. No auction house can refine and upgrade an art collection, not with its constantly changing staff.”
Whitford Fine Art takes seriously its obligation to provide its clients with first-rate scholarship and guidance in making their choices, which is shown in their enviable publication record.
Fermon points out that clients feel comfortable returning time and again to the gallery to refine and upgrade their collections. She tells the story of an Albert Gleizes gouache on paper dating to 1913, “Tête d’Homme,” that has three times returned and been resold – “a happy consequence of our friendships with clients.” WHITFORD FINE ART has been a featured dealer at major world art fairs including Masterpiece London and fairs in New York and Palm Beach.