When he was illustrating last year’s campaign for Stella McCartney’s advertising launch, the artist David Remfry never expected his intensely provocative drawings of Ukrainian model Tetyana Brazhnyk to end up anywhere but a magazine recycling plant.
“I thought it was an odd one-off thing,” admits Remfry, since he had never ventured into advertising before. A member of the Royal Watercolour Society, Remfry’s better known in art circles for his less risqué paintings, including a recent series of dancers. But McCartney and Remfry will meet again Wednesday for the opening of “Fashion Into Art: David Remfry Drawings for Stella McCartney,” at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, where a dozen of the illustrations he inked and brushed will be on exhibit through Sept. 28.
McCartney noticed Remfry’s graphite and watercolor rendering of a nude in green legwarmers on the cover of a 1972 art magazine in her parents’ home when she was growing up. “I’d always been really obsessed with it,” says McCartney. “When I was planning the campaign, this image, the style, just kept coming up.”
She called the artist Peter Blake — an old family friend who designed the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album cover — and tracked down Remfry at the Chelsea Hotel, in New York. Remfry, 61, and his wife, the photographer Caroline Hansberry, arrived there eight years earlier with “no reservation, 9 at night and 17 pieces of luggage” and never left. (They’ve moved suites twice, however, and now live happily in a garden apartment and work out of another studio in the building.)
Remfry, who has work in the permanent collection at the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery and in the collection of the British royal family, will fly across the Atlantic to see the exhibition and his four grown sons. Meanwhile, he’ll keep his mind on the watercolors planned for his show next year at New York’s Neuhoff Gallery. “I really like Stella very much,” Remfry says. “And once someone like that flatters you with that kind of thing, the rest of the world responds.”