Those of you who keep an eye on our Facebook page or Twitter feed might have noticed our recent suggestion that 2013 is the unofficial year of Modern British sculpture. Certainly a quick glance at the exhibitions opening in the UK this month would confirm that suspicion. In addition to shows focussing on those artists considered the medium’s Modern ‘masters’, several new exhibitions aim to bring to light the work of lesser-known twentieth- and twenty-first-century British sculptors.
Heading the line-up of more familiar names must surely be Henry Moore. The title of the exhibition opening later this month at the Henry Moore Foundation in Perry Green, Hertfordshire leaves us in no doubt as to the importance of the artist, not just in relation to the development of Modern British sculpture but also with regards the broader rethinking of the medium in the first half of the twentieth century. Moore and Rodin: Giants of Modern Sculpture (29 March to 27 October) brings together an extensive selection of work by Moore (1896-1986) and his French predecessor, Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). By displaying the pieces together, in the unique setting of Moore’s former home, the exhibition hopes to make clear the British sculptor’s debt to Rodin and to underscore the pioneering work realised by both men.
Draughtsmanship is an essential component of any sculptor’s practice. The Rodin/Moore exhibition reminds us of this via the inclusion of a good number of preliminary sketches, whilst another show looks exclusively at the so-called Hospital Drawings of the latter’s contemporary, Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975). Recently re-installed at Pallant House in Chichester (having completed a five-month run at The Hepworth Wakefield), the exhibition (until 2 June) draws our attention to a remarkable series of over 80 works on paper (paintings and drawings) which Hepworth completed in the 1940s. As their collective title implies, the work’s subject-matter is the operating theatre – a perennial artist’s favourite, here updated by Hepworth’s foregrounding of what can only be described as the choreography of the place (its rhythms and sequences).
Unlike that of Hepworth, the sculpture of Elisabeth Frink (1930-1993) was resolutely figurative. As Lucy Myers recently observed on this blog, Frink’s eschewal of abstraction might be one reason why she hasn’t been the subject of a major retrospective for over twenty five years. A new exhibition at The Lightbox in Woking aims to rectify the situation.
Another ‘giant’ of Modern British sculpture, Lynn Chadwick (1914-2003), is celebrated in a dual-site exhibition, Evolution in Sculpture, at Abbot Hall Art Gallery in Kendal and Blackwell, the Arts and Crafts House, Bowness-on-Windermere. The show (28 March – 15 June) comprises more than 50 works, including mobiles, small and large-scale sculptures, drawings, prints and photographs, amply demonstrating the range and originality of the artist’s output.
Chatsworth House near Chesterfield is the location for an exhibition of Scottish artist William Turnbull’s work, curated by Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s Clare Lilley (10 March – 30 June). Turnbull (1922-2012) is best-known for his sculpture, but this show also includes paintings and drawings; hence the pieces are to be found in the historic house’s North Sketch Gallery, as well as in its gardens. Yorkshire Sculpture Park itself plays host to an exhibition of work made by Garth Evans (b.1934) between 1959 and 1982. The show (22 March to 28 April) promises to reassess Evans’ contribution to sculpture during this formative period in his career, as he moved from the production, early on, of reliefs to the creation of large, colourful fibreglass sculptures and entirely floor-based works. Visitors will be given the opportunity to experience Evans’ recreation of his seminal work Breakdown from 1971, which was stolen shortly after its first public viewing.
Emphasizing, again, the interplay of the two- and three-dimensional in the practice of many makers of sculpture, an exhibition of Sculptors’ Prints continues at The Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh until 31 March. Similarly, The Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, underlines the inseparability of sculpture and painting in the oeuvre of Keir Smith (1950-2007). Smith began exploring the material qualities of paint and canvas in the 1970s. Later, he developed these early, highly performative experiments into wall-based installations and series of sculptures, the latter often presented as compositions or images on the ground. Last, but not least, an exhibition at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff (until 7 April) sets out to explain the centrality of the written word to the practice of sculptor and draughtsman Jonah Jones (1919-2004). The show surveys Jones’ entire career, featuring work from the period he spent training with Eric Gill as well as later monumental figures, large abstract reliefs, portrait busts, small carved figures and stained glass.
To mark this sculpture-centred moment, Lund Humphries is offering 20% off all its Modern British Sculpture titles. To receive the discount, simply quote reference L13HKQ when ordering from our website. The offer is valid until the end of December 2013.
Celia Dunne, Publishing Assistant