Lynn Chadwick 1914-2003


Court Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark

A Distinguished Private Collection, Sweden


Copenhagen, Court Gallery, "Lynn Chadwick", December 1975 - January 1976. 

Lynn Chadwick was one of the leading British sculptors of post-war Britain, known primarily for metal works often inspired by the human form and the natural world, but which also at times seemed close to abstraction. He was born in Barnes, London in 1914 and died at his home Lypiatt Park, Gloucestershire, in 2003, aged 88.

Chadwick was launched on the international stage as one of a new generation of British sculptors exhibiting at the British Pavilion of the 1952 Venice Biennale. Here these young sculptors surprised critics with their departure from previously dominant sculptural traditions (such as carving) and materials (such as marble, wood or stone), embracing iron structures, plaster filler and industrial compounds. They presented jagged works concerned with the dematerialisation of mass and the vitality of line.

When Lynn Chadwick was awarded the coveted prize for sculpture in the 1956 Venice Biennale, it was the sensation of the show and he became the youngest sculptor ever to do so. Chadwick went on to secure an international reputation, and in 1964 was appointed Commander, Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the New Year Honours List. His sculptures and drawings are in the collections of many of the great museums of the world, including the MoMA, New York and Tate, London.

Three Sitting Figures is an example of what Chadwick described as his 'solid' sculpture opposed to his earlier works where fragmentary movement was a greater concern. His figures, recognisably male and female, sit within an integrated base. Where his earlier work expressed the anxiety and isolation of modern life during the cold war through sharp edges and acute angles - described by art critic and poet Herbert Read as the 'Geometry of Fear' - in this work, the artist suggests a closer connection between his figures. Like Henry Moore's sitting figures from the same period, they present themselves as silent, stoic witnesses to the world around them, close but not touching, together but not unified. Their heads, in Chadwick's characteristic manner, are abstracted and expanded to geometric shapes indicating the psychological state of the sitters. Unlike other works where Chadwick's figures' heads merge or differ, their head here are distinct but uniform. This work's particular scale also lends it an intimacy or domestic suitability which resonates with the themes of communality, communication, and human kinship that are central to Chadwick's mature work.