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Carved, Cast, Constructed: British Sculpture 1951 – 1991
Marlborough Fine Art , London

Marlborough Fine Art is pleased to present a survey exhibition tracing the developments of post-war British sculpture from 1951-1991. From Henry Moore (1898-1986) and Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975) to later artists Eduardo Paolozzi (1924-2005) and Anthony Caro (1924-2013), this exhibition traces the visual arts in Britain as they spawned an increasingly rapid succession of theories and styles.

Kenneth Armitage
Anthony Caro
Lynn Chadwick
John Davies
Barbara Hepworth
Allen Jones

Raymond Mason
Margaret Mellis
Henry Moore
Eduardo Paolozzi
Victor Pasmore
Roland Piché

Kenneth Armitage, Pandarus, Version 5, 1963, Brass unique, height 67.5 cm, Copyright Marlborough Fine Art, Courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

This thriving and diversifying arts scene both reflected, and profited from, the expansion of public funding. Opportunities to study at art schools and to show at publicly-funded exhibitions along with an increased presence in the media raised the public profile of the visual arts. The international standing of British sculpture was increased by Moore at the first post-war Venice Biennale in 1948, subsequently sustained by Hepworth, and then with the ‘Geometry of Fear’ group of younger sculptors in 1952, a term coined by art historian Herbert Read, which included Lynn Chadwick (1914-2003), Kenneth Armitage (1916-2002) and Paolozzi. An angular, rough-edged aesthetic was prevalent amongst this group.

Allen Jones, Red Dancer, 1982, fibreglass – red ‘hammer’ finish, height 188cm, Copyright Allen Jones, Courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

In the decades following the Second World War, artists investigated ways of expression and their ability to convey the realities of this new existence. With the revelation of the effects of the Holocaust and the atomic bomb, the morality of the artistic gesture and the language of humanism appeared to need reaffirming; Hepworth would follow a classicizing abstraction, while Moore concentrated on the figure. Paolozzi meanwhile spent time in war-ravaged Paris between 1947-1950, his junk-assembled figures reflecting Art Brut.

Victor Pasmore, Abstract in White, Black and Ochre, 1963, projective relief construction (painted wood and plastic), 121.9 x 121.9cm, Courtesy The Estate of Victor Pasmore and Marlborough Fine Art, London

In the late 1940s, Victor Pasmore (1908-1998) began to assemble three-dimensional constructions on his own wall-hung works as seen in Abstract in White, Black and Ochre, 1963. In 1956 he devised a Bauhaus inspired course of Basic Design for Durham University using new unconventional materials which had originated abroad with Picasso and the Russian constructivists.  In Britain this ‘liberation’ would also come through Caro’s lectures at Central Saint Martin’s which brought forth a new generation who used materials such as plastics and fibreglass and prefabricated units in their work. In stark contrast to Caro’s innovative use of industrial metals is John Davies’ (b.1946) reconnection with figuration, exemplified in Little Egyptian Servant, 1991. During the 1960s, Allen Jones (b. 1937) developed a stylized visual language for painting the human figure which marked a departure from 19th century artistic precepts. As the artist’s renditions became more volumetric and pneumatic, he turned to sculpture, creating pieces such as Red Dancer, 1982.

John Davies, Little Egyptian Servant, 1991, bronze, unique, height 27.3 cm, copyright John Davies, Courtesy Marlborough Fine Art, London

In the work of the various sculptors included in the exhibition, it seems that towards the end of the last century, ‘sculpture’ had effectively transcended its traditional methods and materials. Scale had been denatured, and corporality penetrated and reconstructed into its constituent elements. This deconstruction would permit ‘artists-in-sculpture’ to build solid environments to illustrate the ephemerality of assembling and dissolving bodies.

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