Anthony Christian found his first mannequin (300 yrs old) in a shop in Paris in 1975 and immediately christened him Mr Frank as he had cost so many Francs! He took him back to London and created the first series of white mannequin paintings in June 1976. Anthony moved to Italy at the end of 1976 and the next year created a second mannequin series, this time in red. In the middle of 1977, on a visit to Paris, he found Mrs Frank (350 yrs old) in the same shop that he had found Mr Frank. At the end of 1977 Anthony moved to Paris and painted Mr and Mrs Frank together for the first time in June 1978. The painting was called Pieta. The Love and Marriage series followed in 1985 when he was living in New York and, due to huge demand, Anthony created a second white mannequin series in 1986/87.
This is a series of paintings of my wife, Fanny, sleeping. It is a natural progression from my well known Mannequin Series in which I concentrate on Drapery, one of my favourite subjects to paint. In that series, I draped the inanimate mannequins , giving them a sense of life and emotion. Here I have reversed that idea by taking a real person, the love of my life, and painting her in an objective manner concentrating once again on the fantastic drapery.
When I moved to New York in 1981, although I was completely unaware of it, it was at a very special moment in the City’s history. Also completely unaware of it having any special significance, the place I found to live was a loft in downtown Manhattan, in fact on its most southern street at the river’s edge called South Street. My loft was on the top floor, and I overlooked both the huge old galleon permanently moored there called The Peking, as well as the Brooklyn Bridge which fast became my favourite bridge and my favourite view in the world.
I loved the area I had found myself in as I even found many New Yorkers who, when they asked where I lived and I told them, would respond in surprise. “South Street? Never heard of it!” I loved having found somewhere even locals didn’t know about, especially as I also loved the oldness and crumbling quality of it all. Sadly, it was that very quality that had caused a huge development company to acquire the entire area with the intention of turning it into a modern tourist centre, pulling down where necessary, but at the very least giving facelifts to the point of unrecognizability, the very buildings that were amongst my favourites.
So much did I fall in love with this city, especially this tiny part of it, for the first time in my life I went out into the streets to paint it. I became a sort of New York Monet, and certainly hoped I might do for New York what Monet did for Paris. After quite a short while however, I realised the developers and demolition were moving ahead faster than I could paint, and so I went around taking a few photographs of my most treasured corners, thinking that if the worst came to the worst at least I would be able to finish off my series from those photographs. Some even included the Twin Towers, which had quickly become the first really modern building in the world I actually loved and, on one clear bright sunny day, I had been to its roof and over-looked this tiny island that had so totally captured my heart.
This is the small series I was able to create of that unforgettable time and place in New York’s history.