LYNN CHADWICK British, 1914-2003
Lynn Russell Chadwick was one of the leading British sculptors of post-war Britain, known primarily for his metal works that were often inspired by the human form and the natural world, but which also at times veered close to abstraction. He has been widely regarded as the successor of Henry Moore and one of the major figures in the arts of the second half of the 20th century.
Born in London, he attended the Merchant Taylor School and later worked for several London architect's practices between 1933 and 1939. At that time he focused on techniques of draughtsmanship and watercolour as well as oil painting.
During the Second World War Chadwick served a stint as a land labourer before volunteering as a Royal Navy pilot in the Fleet Air Arm and serving between 1941 and 1945. On his return to London, he began to experiment with mobiles and earned a living as a freelance designer until 1952.
Collaboration with the architect Rodney Thomas proved a formative influence on Chadwick and from 1951 Chadwick received commissions for sculpture. He had a solo show at Gimpel Fils, London in 1950.
For his figures, Chadwick mainly used pieces of iron welded together, which, as mobiles, were reminiscent of Calder's work but as stabiles filled with concrete stand on long legs and resemble a cross between abstract constructs and figurative skeletal beings.
Very few of these early mobiles survive; they were made of wire, balsa wood and cut copper and brass shapes, often fish-like and sometimes coloured, and they were incorporated as decorative features in the exhibition stand. Later, he developed ground supports for the mobiles and termed them ‘stabiles’.
In 1951 Chadwick was commissioned by the Arts Council to produce work to be shown at the Festival of Britain. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, recognition of his work came worldwide. In 1953 he was one of 12 semi-finalists for the Unknown Political Prisoner international sculpture competition, and was awarded an honourable mention and a prize. In 1956 he was given the greater honour of the international prize for sculpture at the Venice Biennale.
Chadwick received commissions for more monumental sculptures, gradually transforming his rough, often aggressive-looking animal figures into softer, even more sentimental compositions with anthropomorphic features. While continuing to do standing figures, Chadwick turned increasingly often to recumbent or seated pairs of figures.
Although his work was in its heyday in the 1950s, Chadwick continued to develop his figures within the context of his material idiom until the century closed.
In 1958, Chadwick purchased Lypiatt Park, the superb Strawberry Hill Gothick house outside Stroud, where he lived for the rest of his life.
Long since a Commander of the British Empire (1964), Chadwick was also made an Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1985. He became a Royal Academician in 2001.
Public collections include
Birmingham Museums and Art Galleries
Cass Sculpture Foundation, Goodwood
Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France
Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum, Cheltenham
Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio, USA
Courtauld Institute of Art, London
Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea
Harvard University Art Museum, Mssachusetts, USA
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark
Moderna Museet, Sweden
Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA
National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Italy
Royal Academy of Arts Collection, London
Wichita State University Outdoor Sculpture Collection, Kansas, USA