After careful consideration of current global circumstances, The European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF) has made the decision to cancel the in-person component of TEFAF Maastricht 2021, originally slated for September 11 – 19, 2021. The second iteration of TEFAF’s digital fair, TEFAF Online 2021, will run from September 9 – 13, 2021.
Maquette V Two Winged Figures, 1973
48.2 x 44 x 23 cm.
Stamped with artist's monogram, 'CHADWICK', reference number 672, dated and numbered from the edition
Edition of 6
André Simoens Knokke
Lex Daniels, Amsterdam
Bought from Simoens early 80s
Dennis Farr & Éva Chadwick, Lynn Chadwick, Sculptor, Lund Humphries, Farnham, 2014, p.297, cat.no.672
The winged figure, often presented as a pair, threads through Chadwick’s sculpture from the mid-1950s onwards. Early examples often danced in duet, their wings splayed in courtship ritual. In 1962, Chadwick transformed the idea completely, starkly abstracting its form to resemble aeroplane wings: Two Winged Figures, constructed from plate steel at an industrial works in Italy, and painted bright yellow and black, towered above the viewer.
If there was always a dialogue between the human and the machine, by the early 1970s Chadwick’s imagery had settled in favour of the former. Maquette V Two Winged Figures (1973) is, on balance, more human than otherwise. The wings, folded downwards, resemble robes. The female figure is clearly identifiable as such, broad-hipped and round-breasted, while the square shoulders of the male figure determine the geometric fall of his tunic and wings. But the head? So often in Chadwick’s sculpture this is where ambiguity concentrates. Heads resemble beaks, science-fiction jaws, insectoid mandibles, square television monitors. Sometimes they are reduced almost to invisibility, seeding doubt as to their sentience. In Maquette V Two Winged Figures, characteristically, Chadwick uses a cube and pyramid to denote difference. Proportionally in relation to each figure’s torso, and borne erect, they give cause for reassurance – yet the frisson of alterity persists.
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.