A book detailing the extraordinary private house and art collection of Stanley Picker on Kingston Hill, written by staff from Kingston University’s Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture, is to be published by Philip Wilson Publishers in October 2012 and launched at the Stanley Picker Gallery, to mark thirty years since the death of arts patron Stanley Picker in 1982.
Born in New York in 1913, Stanley Picker arrived in England, having completed his studies at Harvard University, to take over his father’s cosmetics business. Under Picker’s leadership, the company developed as a large and successful cosmetics manufacturer that produced make-up brands Outdoor Girl, Miners and Mary Quant, among others, and created a wealth that permitted Picker to indulge his greatest love: the arts.
Picker’s connection with Kingston upon Thames began in June 1945 when he purchased a factory at Hook Rise, off the Kingston by-pass. In 1957 he then purchased a plot of land in Kingston with the idea of creating a modern home. His desire was realised in the remarkable house that was designed in 1968 by British architect Kenneth Wood. When Picker retired in 1976, he devoted more time to his interest in art, and Wood returned to build a private gallery in the garden, dedicated to the more important items of Picker’s growing collection. In 1977 he established the Stanley Picker Trust to support the education and careers of young arts practitioners.
The book draws on Picker’s extensive private archive, charting the development of the Picker House as a luxury home for its owner and for the significant collection of modern and contemporary painting and sculpture that he amassed over a 25-year period, beginning in 1957 and ending with his death in 1982. Beginning with a biographical introduction to Stanley Picker and his personal, artistic and business connections, written by Dr Jonathan Black, the book then goes on to examine aspects of the development of the Picker House and its interior and garden. Dr Fiona Fisher explores the central role that Picker’s art collection played in the creation and realisation of Wood’s design for the house and garden; while Professor Penny Sparke charts the remarkable project for the interior of the house that Stanley Picker, Kenneth Wood and staff at Conran Contracts and Conran Design Group implemented together; and Rebecca Preston examines the history of the Picker House site and the garden that was created by designer Victor Shanley.
Picker’s collection of paintings and sculpture and his artistic legacy are examined in chapters written by Dr Jonathan Black, Professor Fran Lloyd and David Falkner. Jonathan Black situates Picker’s collection of paintings within the context of London’s rapidly growing contemporary art market of the 1950s and the personal relationships that Picker developed with galleries and gallery owners. Fran Lloyd’s chapter maps Picker’s acquisition of an important collection of over a hundred modern and contemporary sculptures, and discusses the themes and influences that underpinned Picker’s selection of artists and works and the significance of their staging within the private spaces of his house and garden and the public environments of the cosmetic company’s offices and factory. Stanley Picker Gallery Director David Falkner’s concluding chapter reviews Kingston University’s Stanley Picker Fellowship scheme, established in 1977, and the responses of recent fellows to the Picker House and its painting, sculpture and furniture collections. Stanley Picker wanted his house and collection to be preserved for study and enjoyment by future generations. For conservation reasons, the house and gallery can only open to a small number of visitors each year, but an important aim of the book is to bring to a wider audience the extensive knowledge of the house and collection the team has developed through their research.
The Picker House and Collection: A Late 1960s Home for Modern Art and Design by Jonathan Black, David Falkner, Fiona Fisher, Fran Lloyd, Rebecca Preston, and Penny Sparke will be published by Philip Wilson Publishers in October 2012. The publication of the book coincides with the re-opening of the Stanley Picker Gallery at Knights Park, following a period of closure for refurbishment.