The poet, journalist, novelist, and editor Stephen Spender is the subject of an exhibition at Frieze London, presented by Hauser & Wirth and Moretti Fine Art.
The project explores Spender’s progressive ideas and artistic friendships, and features work by artists he personally knew and/or collected, including Michael Andrews, Frank Auerbach, David Hockney, Lucian Freud, Leon Kossoff, Henry Moore, Giorgio Morandi, Pablo Picasso, Serge Poliakoff, and Yannis Tsarouchis.
A beautiful exhibition catalogue—edited by Ben Eastham and formatted in the style of Horizon, the journal Spender, Cyril Connolly, and Peter Watson founded in 1939—includes artwork reproductions, poems by Spender, and essays on his deep affinities with art, literature, and political activism in the 1930s. “On Censorship” by Caroline Moorehead addresses Spender’s connection with its subject through the journal he co-founded, Index on Censorship.
(In the early 1990s, Spender himself prevailed on the court system to prevent the publication of While England Sleeps, David Leavitt’s novel that appropriated stories from Spender’s autobiography World within World and added scenes of gay erotica, which he dismissed as “pornography.” Spender married twice—Natasha Spender was his widow and he was the father of Matthew and Elizabeth—but, as disclosed in his New Selected Journals and letters to Christopher Isherwood and others, Spender’s emotional and sexual life was marked by numerous same-sex relationships.)
THE WORLDS OF STEPHEN SPENDER
Thursday, October 4 through Sunday, October 7.
Frieze London—Hauser & Wirth, Booth D01, Regents Park, London.
The Worlds of Stephen Spender catalogue.
From top: Henry Moore, Portrait of Stephen Spender, 1934. © Henry Moore Foundation. Image credit: Hauser & Wirth.
Exhibition catalogue image credit: Hauser & Wirth. Book design by Fraser Muggeridge studio.
A 1929 photograph of Spender’s German friend Franz Büchner on the cover of the novel The Temple, written in the late 1920s and finally published in 1988. Image credit: Faber and Faber.
Below: W.H. Auden (left), Stephen Spender, and Christopher Isherwood in 1931.