Publishing highlights 2023: an interview with our Founder, Gyr King

Last year our creative team of curators published several sensational collections and released rare and collectible works from our historic archive. We asked our founder and CEO Gyr King to reflect on his 2023 highlights.

King & McGaw Founder and CEO, Gyr King

Q. Hi Gyr, back in January King & McGaw released a collection of 30 rare exhibition posters from the prestigious Imprimerie Arnéra Archives, which included many pieces by Pablo Picasso. Can you tell us a bit about the archive and the significance of the town of Vallauris?

A. We were fortunate to have been able to purchase this very rare collection of Arnéra Lino-cut prints from the revered collector and print expert Fred Mulder.

Picasso became involved with Vallauris in the late forties when he met Georges and Suzanne Ramié who owned the Madoura pottery. He worked with them to create his famous ceramics which led to a strong relationship with the town of Vallauris and his art residence at La Galloise Villa.

At this time exhibition posters were an important part of life in the town and it was a natural progression for Picasso to work with the best local printmakers and in Hidalgo Arnéra he found a printer he could work with and in Lino, a new print process he could explore. He took Lino-cut printing to a new level. These rare original posters are historic and beautiful records of a fabulous period in both Vallauris and Picasso’s history.

Q. You’ve continued to work with your long standing partners DACS Artimage in producing special edition prints by exceptional contemporary artists. Can you tell us about the work you produced with them last year?

A. We have worked with the DACS organisation for many years and our print partnership is testament to the very important role DACS play in helping and supporting artists everywhere.

Our Special Edition prints perfectly fit a core philosophy of King and McGaw, that of providing exceptional quality and value in fine art reproduction. Working with an exclusive hand picked group of artists we are able to produce editions of key works in very limited quantities reproduced to an exceptional standard with the best print and on fine hand made papers. The recent editions from Frank Bowling have been a wonderful addition to this exclusive range and provide the collector with a rare opportunity to own a work by this important British artist. Understandably, these editions of 200 have been selling out extremely quickly.

Q. Building long-standing relationships with world-leading institutions has been at the core of King & McGaw values throughout your 41 years in publishing. Can you tell us about the new Henry Moore Foundation collection that launched back in the summer?

A. I first worked with the Henry Moore Foundation many years ago, and was fortunate to have met him back in the 80’s when he was installing a sculpture in Street (Somerset) and I was teaching art in the area. Our recent collaboration in many ways relates back to our collection from Arnéra in that it is focussed on exhibition posters. I love these designs so much and they fit perfectly with the current fashion of image and text…they are a wonderful review of one of our greatest sculptors.

Q: Last year saw not one but two releases of limited edition prints by the light installation artist Liz West. How was the collaborative process between Liz and your design team? 

A. Liz West is one of the most talented, inspirational and positive artists. We are incredibly fortunate to be working with her and these limited editions are a distillation in two dimensions from her main practice which is exploring the relationship between light, materials and space. Somehow she has managed to capture this fragile relationship with these prints and they are very special.

Q. King & McGaw released a stunning collection of 26 rare and highly collectible David Hockney posters, spanning four decades and distinct phases of the artist’s work that sold out instantaneously. What do you think makes Hockney’s work so popular?

A. David Hockney has always been, like Picasso, interested in process and technique, as well as colour and form. An early adopter of digital process, his latest works continue to explore what new methods of display can produce. In the sixties and seventies Hockney produced many posters (often Silkscreens with publishers such as Petersburg Press) where he designed the whole work, not just an image with type added. This use of lettering with his own hand and the use of colour make these posters both valuable and enduring.

Q: To mark the release of his limited edition collection, you visited painter and printmaker Tom Hammick in his London studio. Did you gain any insights about his process whilst in the studio?

A. Tom Hammick is another contemporary artist that we are very fortunate to work with. He is a versatile wrist who takes print-making as seriously as painting. His wood cut work is painstakingly produced, continually cutting the large wood plates and running different colours through the press to achieve unique and amazing results. He achieves spectacular results with energy and great humour.

Q: Following the success of your collaboration with celebrated designer Bella Freud in 2022, King & McGaw published a second collection last year featuring more of Bella’s iconic designs as limited edition silkscreens and fine art prints. How was it to work with Bella again?

A. Bella is quite simply the most enthusiastic and unassuming artist to work with. She balances overseeing a major design and retail organisation with charitable work and her fathers legacy. Despite all this she has been incredibly generous with her time, so that we have been able to produce two collections of her work. This year (2024) we have another interesting but different project that we are working on ... more on this in due course.

Q: This year, King & McGaw sponsored the Turner Prize. As a company who is invested in promoting art and supporting artists, what has it meant to have the opportunity to be involved in the leading visual arts prize?

A. Working as we do, so closely with both artists and museums  it is impossible to ignore the fragility of both. We are so aware that they need support at many levels and we see it as our responsibility to help if and when we can. We are a commercial organisation but we also have responsibilities to the people we work with and where we can support art projects, artists and institutions we do. The opportunity to sponsor the Turner Prize was a combination of our strong local support ties, with a national project, in that the prize in 2023 was held at the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne, just along the coast from our base in Newhaven.

Gyr and the K&M team at The Tuner Prize award ceremony, December 2023

Q: What’s on the horizon for King & McGaw in 2024?

A. Alongside an inspiring publishing plan for the next year, we have a very exciting project coming in the summer... more to be revealed in the coming months!

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