The main catalogue for The George Michael Collection has now been published online and is available to browse and purchase. Proceeds from this sale, including catalogues, will be used to continue George Michael’s philanthropic work. The George Michael Collection represents an extraordinary period in British art and culture. Centred on the triumph of the Young British Artists – a loose group primarily taught at Goldsmiths College in the late 1980s, many of whom were launched to stardom following the young Damien Hirst’s 1988 group exhibition Freeze – it celebrates a time in which new life was breathed into London. Formaldehyde works by Hirst, embroideries and neons by Tracey Emin, a grungy self-portrait by Sarah Lucas, and bronze gorillas by Angus Fairhurst are instantly recognisable, encapsulating some of the now-iconic practices whose impact in the 1990s resonates to this day.
Taken as a whole, the collection explores how the artists working during this time united the conceptual and the visceral. They used imagery (and objects, often repurposed in neo-Duchampian mode) taken from daily, urban life, and treated their radical content with irony, pragmatism and wit. While their practices were dizzyingly diverse, they were broadly united by a democracy of materials and meaning. Many of them came from regional or working-class backgrounds, and they were seen by some as invaders out to disrupt the staid provincialism of the capital’s art world. The collection presents a rich display of their individual innovations. It also paints a picture of the network of strong personal and professional relationships that underlay this era’s remarkable creative energy, highlighting the role that George Michael played in nurturing the creative talent of his generation.
Cristian Albu, Co-Head, Post-War and Contemporary Art, Europe, Christie’s: “This exceptional collection captures the essence of creativity associated with Britain during the 1990s. The friendships that existed between the artists at the helm of this zeitgeist are the foundations upon which it was built and this was complemented by the personal relationships George Michael then developed with the artists. Proceeds from this sale will be used to continue George Michael’s philanthropic work. It is a huge honour for Christie’s to present this collection and celebrate the artists whose work enlivened the art scene in London and whose influence still resonates throughout the city.”
Paola Saracino Fendi, Associate Director, Specialist, Post-War and Contemporary Art, Christie’s London: “George Michael’s name resonates with fans globally and speaks of pioneering creative talent. The George Michael Collection reflects this revolutionary spirit in its dynamic group of artists and dedication to the arts . We are thrilled that both auctions provide a universal platform for collectors of all levels to acquire works from this prestigious collection: a continued legacy for George Michael and the artists he was passionate about.”