Recent Acquisitions at VFA

Works by Michael Craig-Martin, Alex Katz, Ian Davenport and En Iwamura

 Some of the new works that we have in our gallery come from three amazing artists who, it turns out, are connected by six degrees of separation.



Sir Michael Craig-Martin (b. 1941) was knighted in 2016. He taught at Goldsmiths College from 1973 though 1988. The influence that  he had on his students had a profound effect on British contemporary art. Many of his students became party of the Young British Artists (YBA) group who gained public recognition by self-promoting their works.


One of the members of the YBAs is Ian Davenport (b. 1966), who received his BFA from Goldsmiths’ in 1988 and whose works were shown at Frieze, an exhibit organized by then sophomore, Damien Hirst.


Craig-Martin said that one of the strongest influences on his own work was a course he took at Yale University in the 1960s. The course was based on the minimalist, color-theory teachings of Josef Albers, a long-time professor and fellow at Yale. One of Craig-Martin’s tutors in that course was Alex Katz (b.1927) 


All three of these fine artists, Alex Katz, Michael Craig-Martin and Ian Davenport, are masters of color, design, composition, painting  and printmaking. Michael Craig-Martin’s most recent show was at the Seongnam Cube Art Museum in South Korea last month.


Ian Davenport’s striped paintings are very familiar to Londoners. His 150-foot-long Poured Lines mural, under the Western railway bridge in Southwark, is the largest public art work in London and one of the largest in Europe. In 1991, at age 25, Davenport became the youngest artist ever to be nominated for the Turner Prize.


His works are in the public collections of the British Museum, the Tate, London, MoMa, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and many other prestigious museums around the world.


Alex Katz is probably still basking in the glory of his Guggenheim retrospective earlier this year. His works are currently on display in galleries in solo exhibits in Paris and the Netherlands and upcoming exhibits are planned for Chicago and Seoul.



One of our most exciting recent acquisitions is a sculpture by Japanese artist En Iwamura (b.1988), who combines a modern sensibility with traditional Japanese design. Iwamura spent five years in the United States. He received an MFA from Clemson University in 2016, went on to residencies in China and France and returned to Japan in 2019. He settled in Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park, one of the oldest pottery producing villages in Japan. 


Many of the younger generation residents have left Shigaraki. Iwamura hopes, by example, to encourage young artists to return to the home of the Ancient Kilns. 


Iwamura’s sculpture, Neo-Jomon, available at VFA, is  a reference to the pottery bowls done during ancient Japan’s Jomon Period (c.14,500-c.300 BCE). Like the ancient potters, Iwamura uses a coil technique to form his sculptures and impressed decoration to create his distinctive works. His modern versions are larger and more colorful than the ancient pottery…and much more fun to look at.


His dream of having gallery exhibitions in New York has been realized and his work is currently on exhibit at the Anthony Gallery in Chicago.




Park Yuna. British painters Rose Wylie, Michael Craig-Martin show works at Seongnam Cube Art Museum. The Korea Herald. January 26, 2023. 

Nick Compton. Ian Davenport’s colourful line-up at Waddington Custot Galleries in London. Wallpaper. August 21, 2022.

June 14, 2023
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