16 July 2008

My small collection of Olivier Raab pictures

I discovered the works of Olivier Raab about twenty years ago (late 1980's) through a catalogue for Christie's Contemporary Art (CCA) who sold limited edition prints and had a small gallery just off Berkeley Square on Bruton Street.

I had reason to be in that part of London in those days and used to pop-in their regularly just to do some window shopping. There were several artists whose work I admired, such as John Piper, but I only ever bought things by Raab.

This painting, Leviathan X, was included in Raab's 1987 exhibition at CCA. I liked it a lot but it is very large, 135 x 180 cm, and I did not have a wall suitable to put it on so I had to resist the extreme temptation.

However, over the next couple of years I did manage to acquire one oil painting, several prints and a poster.

I bought the painting directly from the artist who had his studio in Camberwell, South London at the time. I visited him there and it was lovely to see the place where we worked. I got the poster at the same time and Olivier kindly signed it for me.

Then the children came along and the money went on other things.

The Raab works are still very much part of my everyday life. As I write this sitting in my front room I can see the oil painting, two prints and a poster. There is another print in my bedroom on the wall facing me as I lie in bed there.

Leviathan is something of an exception to his usual works, some of which are still available from CCA, and most of them combine oranges and blues, feature figures drawn to show the form but not the detail and have dramatic shades of light.

I think that the first print that I bought was this one, Going Upstairs, which does all of that. It is slightly unusual in that this figure is active, the girl is clearly racing up the stairs, whereas the figures are usually stood or sat still waiting for something to happen, like a card to be played or a person to arrive.

Another print that I have is, I believe, called Waiting and shows a young woman looking out of an open window. It is very peaceful.

I have searched the internet regularly in recent years looking for news about Raab, with limited success, but he has now started his own website which includes examples of work.

There are also examples of his work on his Facebook page.

It is good to see Raab's new material, particularly the abstracts and, who knows, I may become an art collector again! Until then I will carry on enjoying his work that surrounds me at home.


  1. HI

    I have been a fan of Raab's since the late 80's, but only have a few prints. I have been trying to find a new copy of an interior called 'Sunlight in a blue room' without any success, even through his website!. Somehow it is a small consolation though, to know that there are other people out there in the same boat.

  2. Hi

    Unfortunately , Sunlight in a blue room as a print or poster was sold out in the late 80'S...!! I myself have only 2 copies.

    Good to see some of you are interested in my work .


    1. Just seen this posting: we bought this lovely signed print from Christie's in June 1983 for £75 when we lived in a very large house - 30 years later it is still in a prominent position in our small, central London flat - and is enjoyed every day: thank you! It is coveted by both our son & daughter, so I am glad we won't be around to see who wins!

  3. Hi, I am planning to put my Christie's Contemporary Art: Olivier Raab poster of "Sunlight in a blue room" on ebay soon. It has its original 80's stainless steel spring back frame with glass front and is in excellent condition. If you are interested in this please contact me: kate.nuttall@outlook.com

  4. in case anyone is interested I have two framed prints for sale on Ebay


  5. Just saw this print hanging on a wall in Edinburgh. Framed complete with 1980s large type of title, artist and Christie's Contemporary Art along the beneath the art, takes away from the picture but takes me back to the days of shops like the 'Athena' chain. Looking at this with a sunlit evening view of the crag wall of Arthurs Seat. Thanks for drawing my attention to the subtle colours in this work, beyond the font.

  6. I have a large print of girl in a red dress which I bought for my first home in the 80s (probably from Athena). I always imagined it to depict a girl by the rails on the deck of a ship as she looked to shore while departing the quay at the start of an exciting journey. Now I'm aware of the girl in a blue dress ascending the stairs with its wider aspect, I can see that red dress is the same...which is kind of appropriate as it's moved to two further homes with me and I've hung it at the top of the stairs in both of them. I still love it but hang on to my wistful girl on deck notion. :-)


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