Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Fraser was educated at Eton and spent several years in Africa in the 1950s as an officer of The King's Rifles; it was later rumoured that during this time he had a sexual liaison with the young Idi Amin.
After an period spent working in galleries in the United States, he returned to England and with the help of his father (a wealthy financier) in 1962 he established the Robert Fraser Gallery in Duke St, Grosvenor Square, London. It became a focal point for modern art in Britain, and through his exhibitions he helped to launch and promote the work of many important new British and American artists incuding Peter Blake, Bridget Riley, Richard Hamilton, Andy Warhol, Jim Dine and Ed Ruscha.
Fraser became well known as a trendsetter during the Sixties — Paul McCartney has described him as "one of the most influential people of the London Sixties scene" — and he was a close friend of top pop stars and other celebrities, including members of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, Dennis Hopper and Kenneth Anger. Because of this he was given the nickname "Groovy Bob".
Fraser art-directed the famous cover for The Beatles' 1967 LP Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, suggested the cover artist, Peter Blake, and also gave Paul McCartney a small painting of an apple by Rene Magritte which is believed to have been the inspiration for the name and logo of the Beatles' record company, Apple Records.
He was a close friend of the Rolling Stones and was present at the infamous party at Keith Richards' house, 'Redlands', which was raided by police, leading to the subsequent arrests and trials of Jagger, Richards and Fraser on drug possession charges. The famous 1967 Richard Hamilton work Swinging London depicts Jagger and Fraser, in handcuffs, being taken from court to prison in a police van. Although Jagger and Richards were acquitted on appeal, Fraser plead guilty on charges of possession of heroin and was sentenced to six months hard labour.
Fraser left the UK and spent several years in India during the 1970s. He returned to London in the early 1980s and opened a second gallery in 1983, but by this time he was suffering from chronic drug and alcohol problems and the gallery never replicated the success of its predecessor, although Fraser was again influential in promoting the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring.
It soon transpired that Fraser was also suffering from AIDS, making him one of the first 'celebrity' victims of the disease in the UK. He was cared for by the Terence Higgins Trust during his final illness and is said to have been the first person with AIDS in Britain who was able to die at home. He died in 1986.
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