I have been reading Martin Gayford’s admirable and extremely readable Modernists & Mavericks: Bacon, Freud, Hockney & the London Painters which has taught me a great deal about the London art world in the 1950s and 1960s, which I didn’t know. Not least, it has made me understand the milieu in which Gillian Ayres was trained, as depicted in a photograph of her sitting in a Camberwell pub surrounded by earnest (and possibly admiring) young men:-
And later in her studio in Chiswick Mall:-
I like the description of Carnaby Street by the Menswear Association as ‘codswallop fashion of perverted peacocks’ and Francis Bacon’s quotation of Paul Valéry that ‘modern artists want the grin without the cat’. It gives as a whole a sense of the interrelatedness of the London art world, its smallness, and how some of the great figures, including Freud and Hodgkin, took so long to be recognised.