The Year of Modern British Sculpture continues this month with an interesting confluence of sculptor-anniversaries.
Ten years ago, in April 2003, British sculptor Lynn Chadwick died at his home in Gloucestershire, having enjoyed a long and successful career. ‘A great late 20th century sculptor … the successor to Henry Moore’, wrote Terence Mullaly in the Guardian‘s obituary.
In the intervening period he hasn’t, yet, achieved Moore’s level of international recognition. But now Chadwick’s sculpture is being shown for the first time since 2004, in a survey exhibition being held at the twin venues of Abbot Hall Art Gallery and Blackwell The Arts & Crafts House, where larger-scale pieces are displayed against the dramatic backdrop of Lake Windermere. It is the first major showing of Chadwick’s work outside London.
The development of Chadwick’s sculpture has been meticulously documented in his weighty catalogue raisonné (my Book of the Week), compiled by Chadwick’s widow Eva with an essay contributed by the late Dennis Farr. It’s an incredibly useful book for sculpture specialists, curators, gallerists and all those with an interest in the progression of this major sculptor’s work.
Reviews on publication concurred on its reference value: ‘… this book is a comprehensive image-research tool … an important resource on an artist whose work is worth a second look from art historians … Recommended’, wrote US library-journal Choice; ‘This is an impressive work of reference which provides a comprehensive outline of Chadwick’s career … a thorough and well presented survey of Lynn Chadwick’s life and work’, agreed Antiques Magazine.
This year also marks the centenary of Chadwick’s close contemporary Reg Butler (1913-81), also the subject of a Lund Humphries book. The two artists exhibited together at the now legendary exhibition at the British pavilion of the Venice Biennale in 1952 – the show which prompted art historian Herbert Read to coin the phrase ‘the geometry of fear’ to describe the anguished, spiky and twisted forms produced by a group of artists responding to a changed post-war world. No sign yet of any centenary exhibitions of Butler’s work (although I’d be interested to hear of any plans).
Much younger than Chadwick and Butler, but sharing some of their post-war anxiety, Elisabeth Frink is often associated with the so-called Geometry of Fear sculptors, although her later work diverged from theirs. Frink’s life was much shorter than Chadwick’s: on 18 April 2013 it will be 20 years since her death, and Beaux Arts commemorate her anniversary with an exhibition of bronzes, paintings and drawings spanning four decades of her life, opening this evening.
Lucy Myers, Managing Director
Lynn Chadwick Sculptor by Dennis Farr and Eva Chadwick. 2006. Hardback. 468 pages. 965 b&w illustrations. £85 / $170