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Head of JYM III, 1980
Chalk and charcoal on paper
76.2 x 58.4 cm.
Marlborough Fine Art, London
Private Collection (purchased from the above)
William Feaver, Frank Auerbach, published by Rizzoli, no. 428
Frank Auerbach ‘Recent Work’ 13 January – 11 February, 1983, Cat No 31, Marlborough Fine Art, London
Auerbach met Juliet Yardley Mills in 1956, when she was working as a model at Sidcup College of Art. He began to paint her the following year, and continued to do so, at his studio in Camden, every Wednesday and Sunday, until 1997. As with all his repeated sitters, Auerbach developed an acute awareness of posture and mood:
I notice something when people first come and sit and think, they do things with their faces. It’s when they’ve become tired and stoical the essential head becomes clearer. They become more themselves as they become tired. ₁
JYM was an ideal sitter, capable of holding poses for long periods of time. At first Auerbach painted her without identification in his titles, although she is distinguishable from his previous frequent subject, Stella West (EOW). A characteristic pose shows JYM seated, her head against the back of the chair or supported by linked hands. As Robert Hughes notes, she always returns the artist’s gaze, and ‘there is a look – head cocked back, sometimes seen a little from below, a bit quizzical, sometimes challenging – that makes [her portraits] quite recognizable as a series’. ₂
Auerbach’s drawings evolve and assume their final form across weeks of sittings. A day’s work may be scrubbed back, the following morning, to leave an accumulated deposit of charcoal. In some cases the paper wears perilously thin and needs to be patched. The finished drawing represents the last sitting, the most recent thoughts, yet Auerbach feels compelled to retain the accumulated traces as part of a process of securing the image within its own space and atmosphere. ₃
Head of JYM III gazes partially downwards. There is a weight and solidity that derives from the density of charcoal, implying the settled mass of the sitter, at ease, one shoulder higher than the other. The volume of her head is registered through its eye sockets, cheekbones and chin. Through these we gain an intuition of its totality, and how it might feel to follow the head round, past its visible limits.
₁ William Feaver, Frank Auerbach (Rizzoli, 2009), p. 20.
₂ Robert Hughes, Frank Auerbach (London: Thames & Hudson, 1990), p. 80.
₃ Feaver, Frank Auerbach, p. 19.
The Moor’s Bridge, Ronda, 1935
Oil on canvas
50.4 x 66 cm.
Signed and dated `Bomberg 35' lower right Also signed and inscribed verso on artist's label `Royal Academy Summer Exhibition No. 3/The Moors Bridge/Ronda/David Bomberg/41 Queens Gate Mews/Gloucester Road/Kensington/SW7.'
Purchased by Mr Greenwoods at the 1945 exhibition.
Mr Bernard Davies-Rees, London, by 1983.
Mr and Mrs Herbert L. Lucas, by 1988.
Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert, London
Private Collection, UK
Osborne Samuel, London
The Israel Museum, David Bomberg in Palestine 1923-1927 , Jerusalem, 1983, p. 33, no. 64.
Fischer Fine Art, David Bomberg 1890-1957: A Tribute to Lilian Bomberg , London, 1985, pp. 26-27, no. 59, illustrated.
R. Cork, David Bomberg , New Haven and London, 1987, pp. 209, 212, no. C37, illustrated.
R. Cork, exhibition catalogue, David Bomberg, London, Tate Gallery, 1988, p. 159, no. 124, illustrated.
London, Royal Academy, 1945, no. 3.
Reading, Museum and Art Gallery, David Bomberg and Lilian Holt, June – July 1971, no. 60.
London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, David Bomberg: the Later Years, Sept – Oct 1979, no. 4.
Jerusalem, The Israel Museum, David Bomberg in Palestine 1923-1927 , Oct 1983 -Jan1984, no. 64.
London, Fischer Fine Art, David Bomberg 1890-1957: A Tribute to Lilian Bomberg , March – April 1985, no. 59.
Los Angeles, L.A. Louver Gallery, David Bomberg: A Survey of Paintings and Drawings , March 1986, no. 3.
London, Tate Gallery, David Bomberg , February – May 1988, no. 124.
At the end of 1934, David Bomberg and his future wife, the artist Lilian Holt, settled in Ronda. Lilian hoped that the town’ s dramatic topography might inspire Bomberg’ s work, in the same way as Toledo and Cuenca had earlier done. Her instinct proved well-founded. Bomberg not only considered Ronda the most interesting town in southern Spain, but was immediately struck by its surrounding amphitheatre of mountains and ‘ the gorge – a stupendous rent 250-300 ft wide & 400 ft deep’ .1
The ravine initiated a series of charcoal drawings emphasising the violence of the rock’ s fracturing. A mirroring of formations on either side suggested seismic rupture, while the river Guadalevin, coursing the gorge, might be imagined as constantly eroding its nether reach. Spanning the ravine was the ‘ Moor’ s Bridge’ : a monumental structure, built over a period of forty years during the eighteenth century, pierced with eye-like arches.
Lilian recalled the Ronda paintings as swiftly executed, often no more than a few hours’ intensive work.2 Several capture the Moor’ s Bridge, sometimes facing its gimlet visage, other times focusing on the rock-hewn citadel. The Moor’ s Bridge, Ronda 1935 places the bridge to the left of the composition, backlit by sun, the town clinging to the plateau’ s rim with scarcely a margin of sky. The subject of the painting thus becomes – through Bomberg’ s eyes – the overwhelming mass of riven, fissured rock.
1 David Bomberg (1936), in Richard Cork, David Bomberg (Yale University Press, 1987), p. 207-8.
2 Lilian Bomberg (1980), in Cork, David Bomberg , p. 209.
Pair of Sitting Figures I, 1973
63.5 x 73 x 56.01 cm.
Numbered from the edition
Edition of 6
The Artist’s Estate
Miriam Sheill Fine Art, Ontario, September 2006
Private Collection, Canada
Dennis Farr & Éva Chadwick, Lynn Chadwick, Sculptor, Lund Humphries, Farnham, 2014, p.294, cat.no.654
Marlborough Fine Art, Lynn Chadwick, Recent Sculpture, January-February 1974, London
Maquette III High Wind, 1980
67.3 x 26 x 35 cm.
Stamped artist's and foundry mark, numbered 801s and from the edition
Edition of 9
Louis Nossel, USA (purchased from the above)
Private Collection, USA (c. 1990’s)
Osborne Samuel, London
D. Farr & E. Chadwick, Lynn Chadwick: Sculptor, with a Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 1947-2003 , Farnham, 2014, p.340, 801s (another cast)
Tokyo, Ueda Gallery, Lynn Chadwick , April 1983 (another cast)
Chadwick’s sculptures seldom appear completely still. From his apprenticeship of making mobiles for exhibition stands, in the 1940s, he continued to devise works which oscillated or spun. Bullfrog (1951) is an early, saw-toothed example, Ace of Diamonds II (1986–96) a late geometrization. Between these extremes are Chadwick’s figures: static in reality, but never quite so. Viewers with any imagination will notice that they have frozen only momentarily, and that once our backs turn, their interrupted activity will be resumed.
The degree and nature of this implied movement varies across Chadwick’s career. In the 1950s, beasts appear to lunge or strain menacingly, birds to tense before seizing their prey. Figures engage in pairs, dancing, conversing, eyeing one another. As singles or in groups they appear to watch, although this is never a passive occupation. While at first these figures existed on their own terms, by the early 1970s they interacted with their surroundings. Couples walked. They lay or sat on blocks. Their robes, which were treated with increasing realism, were lifted by air currents or by the figures’ momentum.
Maquette III High Wind (1980) is a beautiful example of this development. The figure, shoulders back, inclines slightly forward, and as she walks, drapery presses close to her contours, before funnelling, filled and raised by the wind. We might think of it as a chaste Marilyn Monroe moment – the train of her cloak billowing upwards, playfully. Yet there is no sense of voyeurism. Borrowing from his Elektra figures, Chadwick renders the head as a polished facet, reflecting light and the viewer’s gaze.
Yellows and Browns Interlocking with Soft Cadmium (Blue Flash), 1968
58.39 x 77.5 cm.
Titled and dated October 1968 and signed verso
Private collection USA
The Prudential Assurance Company of America
Patrick Heron’s exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, in summer 1972, blazed with colour. Focusing on paintings from the last fifteen years, it contrasted sombre reds, on one side of the gallery, against oranges, grass-greens and scarlets on the other. As Hilary Spurling recalled, The space between seems to pulse with colour – so much so that, as one rounds a corner … it is as though one had stepped from a clear, sunny day into a pool of firelight. 1
In the catalogue text, Heron wrote specifically about his use of colour in these recent paintings, conjecturing, ‘Perhaps I am the first wobbly hard-edge painter?’ 2 An eloquent art critic himself, Heron juxtaposed adjectives knowingly. ‘Hard-edge’, a term coined in the United States in 1959 for paintings characterised by areas of flat, cleanly delimited colour, was subverted instantly by ‘wobbly’, thus drawing attention to a critical aspect of Heron’s work. The scintillating colours of Yellows and Browns Interlocking with Soft Cadmium (Blue Flash) intensify by virtue of their blurred edges. Amorphous forms – keyholes, seeking to enclose and subsume– float upon the colour ground: orange, greens, browns and blue against red. At the aqueous margin of these shapes, a fringe of interference appears. Heron was fascinated to observe the effect of this frontier, particularly when its edges were freely, intuitively, drawn. As the eye travels, the spatial position of adjacent colour-areas appears to alternate, as first one side, then the other, comes to the fore.
1.Hilary Spurling, ‘East-End flame-thrower’, The Observer(25 June 1972), p. 28.
2.Patrick Heron, in Patrick Heron: recent paintings and selected earlier canvases (London: Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1972)
Oil on canvas
60.5 x 50.5 cm.
Signed and dated verso
Osborne Samuel, London
In 1965, at the height of his career, Hilton dismantled his London studio and moved to Cornwall, where he had painted since the 1950s. His new studio was in a cottage in Botallack, on the first floor overlooking the moors. It was there that he would paint Untitled (1971), now in the collection of the Tate. That same year, 1971, the Waddington Galleries presented Hilton’s sixth solo exhibition of paintings and drawings. Norbert Lynton, reviewing the exhibition, noted a dazzling variety among the works, some apparently referential, others abstract, a ‘gamut of possible marks and splotches, lines, colours’. The common denominator was freshness: ‘Each [painting] is driven home and left to its own devices, sufficient and vibrant, unpropped by theory or process’.₁
Although Hilton painted less and less during these later years, as his health declined, he did so with intensity. His work continued to walk a tightrope between figuration and abstraction, with curves suggesting breasts or hills, hard lines the outline of a house or a table’s edge. This allusiveness had been noted as early as 1958, in terms of landscape, but it was not until 1974 that there was critical acknowledgement of ‘a streak of the erotic’ in Hilton’s painting.₂ In Untitled (1970) there is an ambiguous interplay between landscape and the figure. The painting’s tonality suggests warm earth colours, including a strangely defined vegetal form, but the delineation, through drawing, evokes human contours.
₁ Norbert Lynton, ‘Waddington Galleries, London’, Studio International (November 1971), p. 195–6.
₂ Michael Shepherd, ‘Streak of the Erotic’, Sunday Telegraph (17 March 1974).
Yellow Autumn from a Terrace, 1948
Oil on canvas
52.1 x 107.2 cm.
Signed 'Hitchens' (lower right); further signed and inscribed 'IVON HITCHENS/Greenleaves Lavington Common/Petworth Sussex/Yellow Autumn/from a Terrace' (on a label attached to the stretcher)
The Leicester Galleries, London, 2 February 1962
Private Collection, U.K.
Osborne Samuel, London
Woodland became a key feature of Hitchens’ paintings from the early 1940s onwards, following the family’s move to Lavington Common, Sussex, after his studio in Belsize Park was badly damaged by a bomb. This was a turning point for the artist, having escaped London to the seclusion and tranquillity of the countryside and surrounded by nature, his work took on a fresh spontaneity that is particularly evident in this painting.
Peter Khoroche noted:
“About Yellow Autumn from a Terrace -there is a note in IH’s Despatch Book, under Summer 1949, to the effect that certain pictures from the Leicester Galleries were transferred to the Leger Galleries at this time. Among these was Yellow Autumn from a Terrace. So we can be sure that it was painted before Summer 1949. I think ‘ca.1948’ would be a reasonable guess as to when it was painted.”
Taking a horizontal canvas, often propped low in front of him, Hitchens worked in the open air from landscapes hemmed close by foliage, bracken and the dank mass of water. He had moved to Greenleaves, six acres of woodland in Lavington, Sussex, following the bombing of his London studio. Never finding a reason to leave, he continued to paint its seasons, finding infinite variety where others might hardly register change.
Hitchens frequently drew analogy with music to describe his approach to painting, referring to the instruments in the ‘ painter’ s orchestra’ , a picture’ s rhythm and harmony, or the notation of tones and colours necessary to its ‘ visual music’ .1 Yet if his canvases are scanned, in the same way as musical scores, the attentive viewer soon notices that Hitchens’ calligraphic strokes are precise rather than bravura , the balancing of tone to unpainted canvas as calculated as that of an experienced orchestrator.
In Yellow Autumn from a Terrace , Hitchens creates a foreground scaffolding of tree trunks, arched brambles, shrubs, the suggested curlicues of ironwork, letting the eye find its own way towards chinks of cerulean-grey. As Christopher Neve wrote,
“…nature seemed to consist to [Hitchens] more of spaces than of objects, and it often appears that he instinctively drew the air and light that vibrates in the interstices of the view rather than the view itself.”2
1. Ivon Hitchens, Statement in Ark (1956), based on notes made a decade earlier.
2. Christopher Neve, ‘ Ivon Hitchens: Music’ , in Unquiet Landscape: Places and Ideas in 20th Century English Painting (Faber, 1990), p. 139.
Cathy II, 1997
Oil on board
38.71 x 61.49 cm.
Annely Juda, London
Annandale Galleries, Sydney
Private Collection, Sydney
Kendall R., Kossoff, Poussin and drawing: The anarchic and the
purposeful, British Art Journal, vol. 1, no. 1, 1999, pp. 70,
Heathcote C., Bliss in the here and now, Art & Australia, vol. 38, no. 4, 2001 pp. 534,
This painting will be included in the forthcoming publication Leon Kossoff: Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings edited by Andrea Rose, with research by Andrew Dempsey and Stephanie Farmer, to be published by Modern Art Press. © Leon Kossoff
Leon Kossoff, Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York;
travelled to Annely Juda Fine Art, London, Cat No 74, Illustrated.
Leon Kossoff, Annandale Galleries, Sydney
Kossoff’s studio at Willesden Green was described, in 1999, as a place where his ‘belief in the fundamental but elusive nature of drawing and in the primal chaos of creativity’ took palpable form.1 Kossoff was born in London, to Russian-Jewish parents, and this was the studio where he had painted most of his work since 1966. Paint encrusted the floor and work surfaces. Light came from a single bulb, since a screen of curtains and garden overgrowth largely excluded daylight, and in one corner, slightly cleaner than the rest, was a radiator and old bench, where models would pose. It is this radiator and bench that can be seen in Cathy II. Kossoff would typically make series of charcoal drawings, then work in oils, revising and beginning again numerous times, perhaps over months, until a final state of coalescence was reached. In Cathy II, Richard Kendall described this moment as possessing ‘a raw feeling for structure, the studio tones fusing with a subject that is both old-masterly and poignantly real’.2 Taking Kendall’s description as a cue, Cathy II may be approached through light, subject, and a connection to the past.
Light in the studio was apparently not an overriding concern for Kossoff. His studio faced south, and if the light proved awkward, he would simply turn a painting around or start anew. Yet its effect within a painting is a different matter. Describing Kossoff’s handling of paint as evocative of mud and clay, and his palette as frequently subdued or monochrome, David Sylvester continued,
But the most wonderful of the resolved contradictions in Kossoff’s paintings is that between the sense of heaviness in the paint itself and the sense of light in the image, whether the palette is pale or quite dark. … Mud and clay are opaque; Kossoff’s paintings are luminous.3
Light defines contours in Cathy II, bringing nearer to us the nude’s angled leg and shoulder, highlighting her elbow and breastbone. It also clarifies structure, so that we appreciate the body’s folded form by virtue of the crumpled cloth and pillow and the ridged radiator behind. The limited palette focuses attention on the movement of the paint, its tone and texture both embodying and catching the light. This gestural quality reinforces a sense of Cathy II as a physical object, setting up rhythms and counter-rhythms within the composition. In places – such as in the downward pull of the paint in the lower left corner – this reinforces reality. In others, such as the delicate trails of white near the sitter’s head, it seems to have no connection with it, although absence would be felt as loss.
Kossoff had painted his subject in 1994 as Cathy No. 1, Summer and Cathy No. 3, Summer. Both are larger paintings on board, showing Cathy, nude, slumped in a chair. In the former, her arms hug her chest and her body is tipped forward on the picture plane, emphasising her pelvis and the fullness of her thighs. In the latter, the pose is quieter and more oblique: she closes her eyes and appears comfortably at rest. Cathy II is yet more intimate, suggesting the sitter curled asleep, her back to the radiator for warmth. Kossoff established close relationships with his models, who were often family or friends.
In 1996, John Berger wrote to Kossoff, in what became an essay in the form of a written correspondence. Again Kossoff’s studio provided the starting point for discussion. From student days Kossoff had kept on his wall an image of Rembrandt’s Bathsheba at her Bath, in which she holds a letter: as she sits, naked, the upper part of her body is bathed in light, her legs in shadow. The recollection of the painting evoked for Berger a chain of thought about Kossoff’s portraits, whether of Cathy or Pilar. An artist friend, Miquel Barceló, had made a book of reliefs with a text in Braille, to be felt by the blind:
And this made me see that if a blind person felt Bathsheba’s body and then felt Pilar’s or Cathy’s, they would have the sensation of touching similar flesh. And this similarity is not to do with a similar way of painting but with a similar respect for flesh, paint and their vicissitudes 4
Berger’s response struck a chord with Kossoff, prompting a meditation on light and what he described as the ‘thereness’ of the sitter in the painting. Ending the correspondence, Kossoff alluded to the impossibility of painting light, yet its miraculous existence within a painting at its moment of resolution: ‘In a sense, before the work is resolved, the painter is, in a certain way, blind’.5 Cathy II, with remarkable assuredness, evinces this moment of clarity.
1. Richard Kendall, ‘Kossoff, Poussin and drawing: the anarchic and the purposeful’, British Art Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Autumn 1999), p. 70.
2. Kendall, ibid.
3. David Sylvester, ‘Kossoff’, in About Modern Art: Critical Essays 1948–96 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1996), p. 294.
4. John Berger, ‘Kossoff’, in The Shape of a Pocket (London: Bloomsbury, 2002), p. 81
5. Leon Kossoff, in Berger, p. 84.
59 x 12.75 x 12.75 cm.
Initialled, titled and dated, underside of wooden base
The artist’s family
Osborne Samuel, London
Illustrated Newlyn Art Gallery, Newlyn (1985)
Newlyn Art Gallery, Newlyn (1985)
Crane Kalman Gallery, London (1986)
Gillian Jason Gallery, London (1990)
Bridge Gallery, Dublin (1997)
Penwith Gallery, St Ives (1996)
The context of St Ives, where Denis Mitchell lived from 1930 until the late 1960s, was critical to his creative development. Trained as a painter, he undertook piecemeal employment as his young family grew, working as a market gardener, fisherman and tin miner. In 1949 he became principal assistant to Barbara Hepworth, and that same year he carved the work he regarded as his first sculpture. Ballet Dancer, which was admired by Ben Nicholson, abstracts gently from the human form, rendering it as two stacked rhomboids, pierced to indicate the dancer’s angled legs and raised arms. From some angles a body is clearly discernible, but as it turns, the outline dissolves into abstraction, to become an exquisitely balanced combination of forms.
In 1952 Mitchell’s work was exhibited in ‘The Mirror and the Square’, at the New Burlington Galleries in London, alongside sculpture by Hepworth, Chadwick and Caro. The exhibition aimed to explore the urgent issues of realism versus abstraction, although its extent and diversity proved too great for most to draw any firm conclusions. Yet Mitchell’s adherence to abstraction was already clear. During his ten years as Hepworth’s principal assistant, he would hone his instinct for carving and the purity of form, exploring the abstract implications of enfolding, modular or asymmetrical structures, even when his titles implied figurative origins.
When Mitchell turned to bronze in the 1960s, by necessity using a local sand-casting foundry at St Just, he brought a remarkable degree of sophistication to the process, filing and polishing the somewhat rough casts to create sculptures that were both elegant and aesthetically unified. Patrick Heron, in his introduction to Mitchell’s exhibition at the Marjorie Parr Gallery in 1969, wrote,
… a Mitchell is a form, usually a single, rather streamlined form, enclosed as it were by a single skin … In such art, intuition and intellect are always inextricably locked. ₁
Roseveor (1985), a woodcarving, exemplifies this premise. The split monolith appeared as a formal device in Mitchell’s work in the early 1960s, around the same time that John Hoskin (like Mitchell, a one-time member of the artists’ cricket team at St Ives) was also exploring its form. Hoskin used welded steel to create a series of linear split columns. Mitchell, essentially a carver, created volumetric forms which curve and taper, ‘conceived’, as Heron recalled, ‘under the maker’s hand’. ₂
Mitchell had worked with assistants since the early 1960s, among them Breon O’Casey. By the mid-1980s his assistant was Tommy Rowe, like Mitchell a fisherman, a sculptor and former assistant to Hepworth. Mitchell returned to earlier sketchbooks for ideas, choosing those he now felt he could alter and perhaps improve. Roseveor thus relates to Argos (1974), as well as to Boscawen (1962), sculptures with an upright form and a characteristic ‘U’ or ‘V’ shape. Detecting in Mitchell’s sculpture an affinity with Nicholson, whose white reliefs were carved from a single piece of wood, then meticulously painted in coat after coat of Ripolin paint (‘always getting to the heart of things with practicalities’), O’Casey nonetheless discerned the greater influence of painters such as John Wells or Roger Hilton:
There is a shape of Roger Hilton’s, a large lump with two uneven horns, that you can see, for example in [Mitchell’s] Geevor, or Talland. ₃
Mitchell seldom used yew for his carvings, the only other known instance being Torso, dating from 1951. Yew possesses a characteristic warmth, orange-brown to purple in colour, with a natural lustre and pronounced grain that can be seen clearly in Roseveor. Consummately carved, Roseveor also evokes a primal quality, redolent of the non-western carvings Mitchell admired and collected.
₁ Patrick Heron, introduction to ‘Denis Mitchell: Exhibition of Sculpture’, exhibition catalogue (London: Marjorie Parr Gallery, 1969).
₂ Heron, introduction to ‘Denis Mitchell: Exhibition of Sculpture’.
₃ Breon O’Casey, in Denis Mitchell and Friends, exhibition catalogue (Dublin: The Bridge Gallery, 1997), p. 11.
Family Group, 1944
14.7 x 9.8 x 6.7 cm.
Edition of 9 + 1
Edgar B. Young & Jane White Young, New York (acquired from the artist on November 26, 1965)
Private Collection, USA (acquired from the above in 2002)
Osborne Samuel, London
David Sylvester, ed., Henry Moore, Complete Sculpture, vol. 1 , London, no. 231, illustration of the terracotta version p. 146
David Mitchinson et al., Celebrating Moore, Works from the Collection of The Henry Moore Foundation , London, 1998, no.143, illustration of another cast p.209
John Hedgecoe, Monumental Vision: The Sculpture of Henry Moore , London, 1998, no.234, illustration of the terracotta version, p.211
Dorothy Kosinski, Henry Moore: Sculpting the 20th Century (New Haven & London: Dallas Museum of Art/Yale University Press, 2001), cat. 50, illustrated in terracotta, p. 174.
Casts held at the San Diego Museum of Art & the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, USAThe terracotta original is held by the Henry Moore Foundation, Much Hadham, UK
A group of a dozen or more maquettes owes its origin to an unrealised commission for Impington Village College, in Cambridgeshire. When the educationalist Henry Morris approached Moore, in the 1930s, it was with an inspirational vision to create a centre for the surrounding villages, designed by the architect Walter Gropius, to integrate art, music, lectures, plays and films into everyday life. Moore instantly lighted upon the subject of the family, as most appropriate. Although funds proved insufficient to fulfil the project at the time, the idea took root.
In 1944, Morris again contacted Moore, who began to make sketches, then maquettes of family groups. Some were intended to be enlarged as bronze sculptures, but most were envisaged as stone carvings, Moore’s preferred medium for Impington. After nine months’ work, however, the project foundered, partly through lack of money, and partly due to the Education Authority’s lack of enthusiasm for Moore’s maquettes. Some years later, the ideas were developed as two significant commissions: Family Group (1948-9), in bronze for Barclay School in Stevenage, and Family Group (1954-5), in stone for Harlow New Town. ₁
Contemplating the Impington commission, Moore filled two sketchbooks with family groups. The compositions varied between one- and two-children families, with the children (of different ages) seated or standing. Some are more abstract than others, some figures contain holes, others have vestigial or split heads. The female figure is often swathed in a shawl or dress, and sometimes a blanket is draped, tenderly, over both figures’ knees. Moore regarded these sketches not only as generating ideas for sculpture but as a means of clarifying the subject in his mind: with a battery of possibilities before him, he could choose which to refine and take forward. In conversation with David Sylvester, Moore later identified the family group as his last significant subject to be developed through this process of drawing. ₂
The maquette for Family Group (1944) shows three seated figures. To the left, a woman holds a child, to the right, a man places one hand protectively on the woman’s shoulder, while his other hand holds a book. The message is clear: that a close family unit is inseparable from the values of education. Significantly, Morris had intended to bring all aspects of learning together at Impington, with parents and children using the same building, and ‘village’ and ‘college’ functioning, effectively, as families.₃ Morris’s thinking can be set against the backdrop of the Welfare State, with its focus on upholding and supporting the family as a vital anchor for society.
Having made a similar group of maquettes for the Northampton Madonna and Child, in 1943, Moore realised their potential, once editioned in bronze, for use as promotion or a source of income.₄ Family Group was editioned in 1956, from the original terracotta maquette, by Charles Gaskin of the Art Bronze Foundry in Chelsea. Bernard Meadows, who was Moore’s assistant at the time, recalled that some casts were roughly finished, and required considerable refinement before returning to the foundry for patination. The flipside to this, paradoxically, is that their final state can be considered to have been closely supervised and worked on by the artist.
Kenneth Clark remained critical of Moore’s family groups, considering them to lack the force, or menace, of other subjects. The phrase Clark used was ‘dutiful deadness’, which he diagnosed as stemming from Moore’s own personal happiness, as represented by the family – a wife and child.₅ Notwithstanding, Family Group (1944) is a beautifully conceived and realised maquette, possessing the quiet strength of its monumental counterparts. Moore’s commissions for Stevenage and Harlow, meanwhile, would become well-loved examples of public art.
₁ See Moore, in Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations (Aldershot: Lund Humphries, 2002), p. 89, 273-5.
₂ Henry Moore in ‘Henry Moore Talking to David Sylvester’ (7 June 1963), BBC Third Programme. See also Alice Correia, ‘Maquette for Family Group 1945 by Henry Moore OM, CH’, Tate Research Publications (2014).
₃ Andrew Causey, The Drawings of Henry Moore (Lund Humphries, 2010), p. 133.
₄ David Sylvester, ‘The Evolution of Henry Moore’s Sculpture: II’, The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 90, No. 544 (July 1948), p. 190.
₅ Kenneth Clark, Henry Moore Drawings (London: Thames and Hudson, 1974), p. 155.
Three Female Figures, 1949
Pencil, crayon, ink & gouache on paper
29.01 x 23.5 cm.
Signed & dated lower right, inscribed ‘Lithograph’ upper centre
The Leicester Galleries, London, where purchased by Sir Eric Maclagan, May 1951
Thence by family descent
Osborne Samuel, London
The Leicester Galleries, London, New Bronzes and Drawings by Henry Moore , 1951, cat.no.41
In 1927, Moore made a series of studies of his mother in which he captured the cast and tilt of her head improvisatorially in ink on newspaper. Fourteen years later, often from memory, he undertook to record the conditions in London’ s underground shelters. These drawings are quite different in character. By apparently transforming the figures to effigies, frozen in collective indignity, Moore appeared to shy away from subjective expression, creating instead ‘ a cast characters … who are drawn from reality but are also generic people who suffer and endure’ .1
Three Female Figures stems from the shelter drawings, in technique and approach, but also provides insight into other areas of Moore’ s working practice. It is, in effect, a tableau depicting an elderly woman, hunch-shouldered, feet planted heavily, ministered by two younger women. The postures are statuesque, the gestures petrified acts of humanity, but Moore’ s realisation is graphic as well as sculptural. Using a technique he described as ‘ sectional drawing’ , Moore divides the surface of the figures into jigsaw grids to create a sense of volume. Equally, he uses wax crayon and wash to create spontaneous effects of light, offsetting and animating the composition.
Three Female Figures , in fact, relates to Moore’ s early experiments in printmaking. In 1949 Moore had begun a collaboration with the Ganymed Press, newly founded in London using equipment from its former namesake in Berlin. Ganymed’ s speciality at this period was ‘ collograph’ , so-called by the press’ s manager, Bernhard Baer, to distinguish from conventional collotypes, which were reproductive rather than autographic. Essentially, the artist would draw in separation on plastic sheets (Kodatrace) to create images transferred photographically to a light-sensitised glass plate. Among Moore’ s first prints using this technique was a scarcely modified version of Three Female Figures ( c. 1950), for which only eleven proofs are known to exist.2
1. Andrew Causey, The Drawings of Henry Moore (Lund Humphries, 2010), p. 13.
2. Three Female Figures , CGM 16, collograph, 50.5 x 38.1 cm, printed in black, blue-grey and yellow. See Frances Carey and Anthony Griffiths, Avant-Garde British Printmaking 1914-1960 (British Museum Publications, 1990), p. 150-52; David Mitchinson, Henry Moore Prints and Portfolios , (Patrick Cramer, 2010), p. 28, 32 (illustrated in colour). The existence of the drawing was not known at the time of Mitchinson’ s study.
Reclining Figure: Holes, 1975
12.5 x 23.29 x 8 cm.
Signed and numbered on the base
Edition of 9
Gallery Kasahara, Osaka, Japan
Private Collection (Acquired from the above c.2003)
Osborne Samuel, London
A. Bowness, ed., Henry Moore, Sculpture and drawings, vol. 5, Sculpture 1974-1980, London, 1983, no. 656, p. 20 & p. 21
Henry Moore: Skulpturen, Zeichnungen, Grafiken (exhibition catalogue), Galerie Ruf, Munich, 1983-84, no. 64, illustration of another cast n.p.
John Hedgecoe, Henry Moore: A Monumental Vision, Cologne, 2005, no. 570, illustration of another cast p. 237
Henry Moore Back to a Land (exhibition catalogue), Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, 2015, n.n., illustration in colour of another cast p. 126
This work is recorded in the archives of the Henry Moore Foundation under number 2019.4
Moore had always wanted to make a figure in wood with ‘a bend in its pose’. His preference was for elm, and prior to the catastrophic arrival of elm disease he carved four over-lifesize sculptures. In 1975 he acquired a large elm tree, recently felled, and immediately began to carve the unseasoned wood. The process demanded particular attention, as Moore understood. Once finished, however, he regarded Reclining Figure: Holes (1976–78) as ‘having something special and different from the others’.1
The carving was documented, from start to finish, by the photographer Gemma Levine, and published as a photo-essay with comments by Moore.2 In several images the plaster maquette can be seen as a tiny sculptural presence on top of the elmwood block, its softly modelled surfaces contrasting with the roughly chiselled planes of the figure, as it developed amid the studio detritus of tools, rulers, wedges and woodchips.
Cast in bronze, in 1975, Maquette for Reclining Figure: Holes is a tactile, enigmatic form. From the front it rests languorously, space entering the composition through voids where limbs arch and touch. Reversed, the salient feature is the curve Moore anticipated so keenly. These two facets are complementary yet unexpected. The opening-up of the figure might be regarded as purely practical (when translated into unseasoned wood, it encouraged even drying), yet it is also integral to the work’s aesthetic – which unfolds as a lucidly structured, organic form.
1. Moore (1983), in Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations (Aldershot: Lund Humphries, 2002), p. 305.
2. Henry Moore and Gemma Levine, Henry Moore: Wood Sculpture (London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1983). Some of the images were included in With Henry Moore: The Artist at Work, photographed by Gemma Levine (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1978), p. 94–108.
Maquette for Curved Mother and Child, 1980
18.5 x 9 x 8.4 cm.
Signed and numbered on the base
Edition of 9
Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg,
Private Collection, Australia, 1980’s
Private Collection, UK
Osborne Samuel, London
Alan Bowness (ed.), Henry Moore, Sculptures and Drawings, Sculpture 1980-86, Volume 6 , Lund Humphries, London, 1999, cat.no.791
John Hedgecoe, The Sculpture of Henry Moore , published by Collins & Brown, 1998, no. 669, p. 242
“From very early on I have had an obsession with the Mother and Child theme. It has been a universal theme from the beginning of time and some of the earliest sculptures we’ve found from the Neolithic Age are of a Mother and Child. I discovered, when drawing, I could turn every little scribble, blot or smudge into a Mother and Child.” ₁
Moore’s words, well known as they are, still prompt thought. As a young artist in the 1920s, he spent hours studying the collections of the British Museum in London and Musée de l’Homme in Paris. His drawings make clear the impact of these discoveries as well the agility with which he was able to transform his themes: moulding, caressing, even on occasions harrying his material. What emerges is one of the most profound studies, in the twentieth century, of a single subject: the mother and child.
A cursory selection, from across Moore’s career, demonstrates this breadth. A heavy-set, somewhat foursquare Mother and Child (1924–5), carved from green Hornton stone, contrasts with a translucent alabaster Suckling Child (1930), which tenderly fragments and abstracts from the human form. From the next decades we might choose Moore’s serenely Northampton Madonna and Child (1943–4), a Mother and Child (1952) in which a ravenous-beaked child is restrained at arm’s length, and the tiny, almost toy-like Mother and Child: Wheels (1962). If the 1960s proved relatively sparse, the 1970s saw a regathering of momentum as well as a scattering of Moore’s approach: from sculptural picture frames, reliefs and egg forms to homages – recalling Pisano, Rubens, ‘Paleo’ and the ‘Gothic’.
The distinction between the ‘mother and child’ and ‘Madonna and Child’ is significant. When Moore was approached to create the Northampton Madonna and Child (1943–4), he was initially hesitant as to whether he could produce a religious rather than secular work of art:
It’s not easy to describe in words what this difference is, except by saying in general terms that the ‘Madonna and Child’ should have an austerity and a nobility, and some touch of grandeur (even hieratic aloofness) which is missing in the everyday ‘Mother and Child’ idea.₂
Exploring the idea, Moore produced a series of maquettes. The proposed context and medium required a certain solemnity, reflected, in the chosen version, by the weight of drapery around the Madonna’s knees, and the breadth of her capacious lap, as she shelters the child. As Moore wrote, ‘I have tried to give a sense of complete easiness and repose, as though the Madonna could stay in that position for ever (as, being in stone, she will have to do)’. ₃
Such immobility provides a useful measure against which to compare studies of the mother and child unconnected to a religious context. Perhaps the greatest change, as Moore moved from the 1970s into the 1980s, would be an increased sense of intimacy and domesticity. Neither mother nor child is required to remain still. A child scrambles over its mother’s reclining figure, or balances on her knees, arms reaching towards her breast. In the drawings, Moore depicts the mother from behind, gently rocking the child, as it turns, or rests its head on her shoulder. These are informal poses, for which the most obvious precedent is Moore’s series of rocking chair sculptures, from the late 1940s to 1950.
Maquette for Curved Mother and Child (1980) continues this rocking theme. The mother’s body tilts as she cradles and rocks the child, such that her arms and the child’s outstretched limbs intertwine. The mother’s legs are cocooned in a closely fitting dress, emphasising the counterbalancing twist of her torso. A similar curve characterises the form of Seated Mother and Child: Thin (1980), where the child is supported upright on the mother’s hip. In Maquette for Curved Mother and Child, however, the arc is present in every aspect of its composition: from the mother’s neck to her spine and legs – even the child’s loose-limbed body – each element twisting in a slightly different direction. Moore’s maquette was enlarged in 1983, gaining in stylization if perhaps losing the immediacy of this diminutive version.
Moore acknowledged the impact that life may exert on an artist’s work, and how the birth of his daughter, in 1946, ‘re-invoked’ for him the mother and child theme. ₄ If this is the case, the fresh approach of the later works may indeed have resulted from the birth of his grandchild, in 1977. Maquette for Curved Mother and Child captures a joyous, carefree moment, witnessed as if at close hand.
₁ Moore, in Henry Spencer Moore, photographed and edited by John Hedgecoe (London: Thomas Nelson, 1968), p. 213.
₂ Moore, in Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations (Aldershot: Lund Humphries, 2002), p. 267.
₄ See Moore, in Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, p. 66.
Men Marching at Night, 1918
Lithograph on brown wove paper
51.21 x 41.81 cm.
Signed and dated
Postan, Alexander. The Complete Graphic Work of Paul Nash. London: Secker & Warburg, 1973. cat. no. L4.
In Nash’s ‘Men Marching at Night’ a line of soldiers, reminiscent of Nevinson’s ‘Returning to the Trenches’, march towards the viewer, their backs hunched, faces covered against the driving rain, dwarfed by the giant poplar trees lining the road. The soldiers are dehumanised, fading into a single mass disappearing off into the distance. The stark unnatural geometry of the surroundings reflects the way nature is transformed by war into an unnatural hostile landscape. In Greco-Roman mythology poplars populate the Elysian Fields, a paradise and resting place for great soldiers and heroes.
Returning to the Trenches, 1916
Drypoint on off-white laid paper
15.1 x 20.2 cm.
Signed and dated in pencil
Private Collection, UK
Osborne Samuel, London
Black, Jonathan. CRW Nevinson – The Complete Prints. London: Lund Humphries in association with Osborne Samuel, 2014. cat. no 9.
During his time both as an ambulance driver and with the Red Cross, Nevinson was captivated by the dense lines of marching French soldiers seemingly moving as one. Informed by the Futurist techniques for depicting movement, seen in such works a Boccioni’s ‘The City Rises’ and ‘States of Mind’, the French soldiers in ‘Returning to the Trenches’ merge into one unified mechanical mass, their limbs blurring together, giving one the impression of a speeding train disappearing into the distance. In his autobiography Nevinson stated that these soldiers may have been part of the French 89th territorial division, and in the oil painting of the same subject the early French uniform is distinctive with its impractical red cap. In an interview with The Daily Express in February 1915 where the painting was reproduced he stated:
“I have tried to express the emotion produced by the apparent ugliness and dullness of modern warfare. Our Futurist technique is the only possible medium to express the crudeness, violence, and brutality of the emotions seen and felt on the present battlefields of Europe … Modern art needs not beauty, or restraint, but vitality.”
The Merry-Go-Round, c.1930
30.51 x 30.4 cm.
Signed, titled & numbered lower left within the image
Edition of 50
The estate of Felice Ross, NYC
Osborne Samuel, London
Linocuts of the Machine Age , Stephen Coppel, published by Scolar Press, 1995, CEP 16, p.94
Cyril Power Linocuts: A Complete Catalogue , by Philip Vann, published by Osborne Samuel & Lund Humphries, 2008, illustrated in colour, p.59, no.16
Cutting Edge: Modern British Print Making , Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, June – September 2019
The Merry-Go-Round, like Power’s other great linocut ‘Appy ‘Ampstead is a real tour de force of Power’s vision and skill in producing intricately cut and inked lino-blocks to produce an image of such incredible kinetic energy.
The Merry-Go-Round is surprisingly printed from only two lino-blocks, in Chinese and chrome orange and Chinese blue in an edition of 50 impressions. Like his linocut The Giant Racer, The Merry-Go-Round was observed by Power at the Wembley Exhibition Fun Fair in west London, not far from his home in Brook Green in Hammersmith.
Power’s linocut is a stark contrast to Mark Gertler’s wonderful 1916 painting also titled Merry-Go-Round which is in the Tate Collection. In Gertler’s famous painting the figures are geometrical in shape, giving them the appearance of dolls, painted in blue, red and yellow. It is almost sedentary compared to Power’s whirling Merry-Go-Round that seems almost out of control as the riders spin around at breakneck speed, the central column appears to be bending under the momentum, the blue and orange patterning above the canopy of the merry-go-round creates a vortex of energy, the silhouetted black cut-out figures in the foreground look almost out of focus conveying the speed of the merry-go-round as the riders hold on for dear life!
The Tube Station, c.1932
25.81 x 29.49 cm.
Titled, numbered and signed in image lower centre in pencil
Edition of 60
Private collection, UK
Linocuts of the Machine Age , Stephen Coppel,
published by Scolar Press, 1995, CEP 32, p.99
Cyril Power Linocuts: A Complete Catalogue , by Philip Vann, published by Osborne Samuel & Lund Humphries, 2008, illustrated in colour p, 85
British Prints from the Machine Age; Rythms of Modern Life 1914 – 1939 , Clifford S. Ackley, published by Thames & Hudson, London, 2008, p. 105 (no. 49)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, January 30 – June 1 2008
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, September 23 – December 14, 2008
The Wolfsonian-Florida International University, November 21, 2009 – February 28, 2010
Printed from 5 blocks in yellow ochre, spectrum red, permanent blue, viridian and Chinese blue on buff oriental laid tissue.
Thorn Trees, Spring, 1967
Oil on canvas
54.61 x 45.69 cm.
Signed and dated upper left Also signed with initials, inscribed, dedicated and dated again 'P.A and FRAU ADE/a souvenir/of/11 March 1967/with friendship./G.S. 30.V.67/THORN TREES. SPRING' verso
Mr & Mrs Peter Ade, München
Thence by descent
Private Collection, Germany
PA are the initials of Peter Ade, the Director of Haus der Kunst in München . A gift by the artist in recognition of the assistance Peter Ade gave with a travelling exhibition of Sutherland’s work in 1967. ( Haus der Kunst München, 11. March – 7. May 1967; Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, 2. June – 30. July 1967; Haus am Waldsee Berlin, 11. August – 24. September 1967; Wallraf-Richartz-Museum Köln, 7. October – 20. November, 1967.)
This painting clearly relates in structure to two earlier versions of the same subject from the 1940’s, one now held in the British Council and the second at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, New York).
In the 1940s Sutherland began a series of paintings based on thorns. Walking in the country, and preoccupied with a commission for a Crucifixion , he began to notice ‘ thorn bushes and the structure of thorns, which pierced the air in all directions, their points establishing limits of aerial space’ . Drawing them, he observed a strange transformation take place: the thorns rearranged themselves into ‘ a paraphrase of the Crucifixion and the Crucified Head – the cruelty’ .1 Kenneth Clark described the resulting trees, heads and crosses as akin to metaphors in poetry, their freely created forms more vivid and personal for using imagery not already ‘ deadened by use’ .2
The context for these works for Sutherland, a Catholic, was deeply meaningful. In the early post-war years he received commissions from the Reverend Walter Hussey for a Crucifixion and Noli me tangere , respectively for St Matthew’ s, Northampton, and Chichester Cathedral. More significant still was the tapestry commissioned by Basil Spence as a focal point for the new Cathedral at Coventry (1962), a monumental sign of hope abutting the ruins of its war-blasted predecessor. At Coventry, Sutherland’ s Christ in Majesty was complemented sensitively by an altar set from Geoffrey Clarke, itself alluding to the bitter piercing of thorns.
Among Sutherland’ s ‘ thorn’ paintings, a cluster of Thorn Crosses evokes altar sets. The trinity of forms in Thorn Trees, Spring (1967) likewise suggests a cross and candlesticks, or perhaps a crucifixion witnessed by mourners: such is the malleability and suggestibility of Sutherland’ s imagery. Especially potent is the painting’ s confluence of death and renewal – sere thorns cloaked in the verdure of a fresh season. The contrast was one Sutherland had originally hoped to exploit in his commission for St Matthew’ s, Northampton, as he explained:
I would have liked to paint the Crucifixion against a blue sky … in benign circumstances: blue skies, green grass, Crucifixion[s] under warmth – and blue skies are, in a sense, more powerfully horrifying.3
1. Graham Sutherland, ‘ Thoughts on Painting’ , The Listener (6 September 1951), p. 378, quoted in ‘ An Exhibition of Painting and Drawings by Graham Sutherland’ (Arts Council and Tate Gallery, 1953), unpaginated.
2. Kenneth Clark, introduction to ‘ An Exhibition of Painting and Drawings by Graham Sutherland’ (Arts Council and Tate Gallery, 1953), unpaginated.
3. Sutherland, ‘ Thoughts on Painting’ , The Listener (6 September 1951), republished in Graham Sutherland, Correspondences: Selected Writings on Art , ed. Julian Andrews (Graham and Kathleen Sutherland Foundation, 1982), p. 73.
Leaf Venus 2, 1986
Bronze on York stone base
132 x 41 x 20.5 cm.
Signed with monogram, stamped with foundry mark, dated and numbered from the edition of 4
Edition of 4
Waddington Galleries, London
Ann Kendall Richards, New York, June 2000
Private Collection, USA
Osborne Samuel, London
Exhibition catalogue, William Turnbull: Sculptures 1946-62, 1985-87, London, Waddington Galleries, 1987, p. 53, no. 20, another cast illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, William Turnbull Neue Skulpturen, Berlin, Galerie Michael Haas, 1992, no. 5, another cast illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, William Turnbull: Sculpture and Paintings, London, Serpentine Gallery, 1995, p. 65, pl. 45, another cast illustrated.
A.A. Davidson, The Sculpture of William Turnbull, Much Hadham, 2005, pp. 51-52, 68, 168, no. 240, another cast illustrated.
London, Waddington Galleries, William Turnbull: Sculptures 1946-62, 1985-87, October – November 1987, no. 20, p.53
Annely Juda Fine Art, From Picasso to Abstraction, June – September 1989
Berlin, Galerie Michael Haas, William Turnbull Neue Skulpturen, October – November 1992, no. 5
London, Serpentine Gallery, William Turnbull: Bronze Idols and Untitled Paintings, Nov. 1995 – Jan.1996, no.45, p.65
Barbara Mathes Gallery, New York, William Turnbull, October – November, 1998
Encountering Leaf Venus 2, what does it suggest? Leaf, or goddess? Close to human scale, its blade-thin, verdigris form is marked by sparse, discreet indentations.
William Turnbull began to make ‘Idols’ in the mid-1950s: simplified structures whose totality could be grasped in a glance. Their presence was primal, evoking – though not mimicking – works from other civilisations. At the British Museum, Turnbull had studied Cycladic and African sculpture, as well as utilitarian objects, such as spoons, which possessed symbolic significance. His contribution to the radical exhibition ‘This is Tomorrow’, in 1956, was Sun Gazer, a mysterious ovoid on a pedestal. Turnbull amplified his intention in the catalogue:
Sculpture used to look ‘modern’; now we make objects that might have been dug up at any point in the past forty thousand years. Sculpture = totemic object. It can exist inside or outside architectural space.
In 1979, after a gap of seventeen years, Turnbull returned to making ‘Idols’ in bronze, fashioning a series of small masks, figures and torsos. The continuity with earlier work is evident, yet there is also difference. In sculptures from the mid-1980s onwards, such as Leaf Venus 2, sculptural weight and solidity have been replaced by slenderness: an audacious balancing of wafer-thin forms. Considering such works, David Sylvester recalled Turnbull’s question, ‘How little will suggest a head?’, invoking by comparison the artist’s emptied-out canvases of the 1950s, in which brush-strokes activate monochrome surfaces.
Amanda Davidson, in The Sculpture of William Turnbull, links the origin of Leaf Venus 2 to drawings of plants made in Singapore in 1963. 1. Turnbull related it to skateboards used by his sons; a jarring cultural appropriation, but correlating neatly with Leaf Venus’s form, its slim volume and gently curved surfaces. David Sylvester further suggested aircraft wings, which had been a visual constant during Turnbull’s four years as a wartime pilot in the RAF. 2. All are possible, indeed likely.
Sun Gazer (1959), as distinct from the 1956 sculpture of the same title, was sited outside Kingsdale School as part of an initiative by the London County Council’s Architect’s Department ‘to expose children to the most challenging and experimental manifestations of contemporary art’. 3. Sun Gazer relates directly to Leaf Venus 2. Horizontal rather than vertical, it is essentially a slim leaf form, with ridged and gashed surface markings, although the depth and legibility of this scarring is greater.
In Eugene Rosenberg’s photograph of Sun Gazer (1959), a girl in school uniform studies the sculpture. A young teacher looks on, while further pupils can be seen watching from open windows on the upper floor. We can never know what they were thinking, but the placement of the sculpture, against the modernist brick, steel and concrete architecture of Leslie Martin, is undoubtedly daring. Light, and the skilful black-and-white photograph, emphasise the strangeness of Turnbull’s sculpture – a space-age found object.
The challenge, with the smoother-surfaced Leaf Venus 2, is to register its presence through photographs: the sculpture’s surface lines and dots, ciphers across and around its slender mass, may all too easily be easily missed. Such markings subdivide the leaf, providing symmetry (dots in the centre, lines to the perimeter). Yet the effect, as with Sun Gazer, remains equivocal. Leaf Venus 2 is an object both self-sufficient and referential, clearly articulated and numinous.
1.Amanda A. Davidson, The Sculpture of William Turnbull (Aldershot: The Henry Moore Foundation in association with Lund Humphries, 2005), p. 52.
2. David Sylvester, ‘Bronze Idols and Untitled Paintings’, in William Turnbull: sculpture and paintings (London: Merrell Holberton Publishers and the Serpentine Gallery, 1995), unpaginated.
3. Richard Cork, in Architect’s Choice: Art and Architecture in Great Britain since 1945 (London: Thames and Hudson, 1992), p. 34, illustrated p. 35.