25 Artists Ring In Baker Sponder’s 25th Anniversary
Reference: Farr & Chadwick 227
Not having to bear the academic burden of a formal sculpture training liberated Lynn Chadwick from the outset of his career which began at the end of the war. An acquired engineering and architectural design expertise instead informed his early biomorphic mobiles and distinctively spiky metal figure forms from an early stage. The use of tubular scaffold and framing in the rapid construction of prefabricated housing had inspired Chadwick from the outset. For the remainder of his long and spectacularly successful career the sculptor used fanned and rib-like underlying structures whose taut power and linear energy showed through the stolit or cast bronze surfaces that formed the tactile surface ‘skin’ of the finished sculpture.
These radial or zig-zagging lines are clear in the patinated bronze Teddy Boy and Girl, an apparent double figure composition that is conjoined, almost imperceptibly, into a figural unit. The gender is announced not through anatomic naturalism or even through erotic symbolism but rather through discrete features like the woman’s gently swelling chest and skirt and the male’s tallness. The latter’s raised arms creates an emotive perpendicularity and, below his flat cloaked torso, the tapering ‘drainpipe’ legs are tripod-like. Allusion to contemporary fashion is subtly evoked within the abstract architectonics of this powerful sculptural duet.
By 1957, when the Teddy Boy series was underway, Chadwick was internationally established, his feats at the Festival of Britain in 1951 and group exposure (with Butler, Armitage, Adams and others) at the Venice Biennale the following year leading to his securing first prize at Venice in 1956. Among British artists only Henry Moore had achieved this.
Manufacturer: Cast by Susse Fondeur, Paris in 1961
Marlborough Fine Art, London, November - December 1961
Farr & Chadwick, Lynn Chadwick Sculptor, page 130 no. 227
Oberlin College Bulletin, 15/102 (Winter 1958), 69
Les Beaux-Arts, 946-947 (Oct. 1961), 10
Martin H. Bush (introd.), Edwin A. Ulrich Museum of Art (Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas, 1980), 29
Private Collection (for 50 years)
Lynn Chadwick was part of a generation of British sculptors who surprised audiences at the 1952 Venice Biennale by breaking with the tradition of carving sculpture from wood or stone. Instead, he welded iron and bronze rods into expressionistic, figurative works inspired by the human form and animals that nonetheless hovered close to abstraction. In his New York Times obituary, Ken Johnson noted, “In the 1950's [Chadwick] developed a spiky vocabulary of skeletal lines and rough planes organized into generalized images of people or animals that evoked feelings of pain, rage and fear.” He rejected what he saw as the amorphousness of stone, preferring to work with iron because it allowed him to “do a three dimensional drawing…which has a very definite shape.” In that sense, his work shared something with architecture, the field he originally pursued in his early career.
British, 1914-2002, London, United Kingdom