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      November 9, 2010 - November 14, 2010

       

      Webinar
      Pune, Mahārāshtra

      Performers:
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      EVENT DETAILS
      Connected


      Exhibition venue:

      Gallery 8
      8 Duke Street
      St James’s
      London
      SW1Y 6BN

      A selling exhibition of small sculptures by Jacob Epstein, Henry Moore and Elisabeth Frink, alongside other connected sculptors Richard Perry Bedford, Uli Nimptsch, Fiore de Henriquez, Clive Sheppard, Brian Willsher and John Farnham.Before these works I ponder in silence. The imagination stretches itself in vast disproportions, and by impressive outline throws the shadow of our fears upon the background of space; new shapes, growths of our sub-consciousness, fill the atmosphere; robust expression of secret forces ready to burst forth on earth.
      If sculpture is truly “the relation of masses” here is the example for all to see. Henry Moore by his integrity to his central idea of sculpture calls all sculptors to his side. What is so clearly expressed is a vision rich in sculptural invention, avoiding the banalities of abstraction, and concentrating upon those enduring elements that constitute great sculpture.
      It is unnecessary to refer to “lovely materials,” “respectful craftsmanship,” etc; a modicum of talent is sufficient for such superficialities. Forces from within the works project upon our minds what the sculptor wished to convey. Here is something to startle the unthinking out of their complacency.
      Sculpture in England is without imagination or direction. Here in Henry Moore’s works are both qualities.
      Bound by the severest aesthetic considerations, this sculpture is yet filled with the spirit of research and experiment. It contains the austere logic of ancient sculpture. Allied to architecture worthy of its powers the result would be an achievement to look forward to.
      The mother and child towers high as a mountain. This attests the mental height of the sculptor, as in his flying figure on the New Underground Building, the will — the spirit has a velocity beyond the confines of the small space at the disposal of the artist.
      For the future of sculpture in England Henry Moore is vitally important.’

      A note on the sculpture of Henry Moore. Foreword to the 1931 Henry Moore Exhibition at the Leicester Galleries by Jacob Epstein.

      These pieces came to me over a period of time; they were not intended to be exhibited together. However, on researching the individual works I became aware of the underlying connections between the sculptors; the more I read the more I saw the links between them and Connected as an exhibition came into being.

      Jacob Epstein and Henry Moore first met in 1921 when Moore, in his first term at the Royal College of Art, visited Epstein at his studio with a letter of introduction, seeing for the first time Epstein’s famous collection of Primitive art. Epstein subsequently purchased Suckling Child in alabaster and Mother & Child in Cumberland alabaster, from Moore’s first one-man exhibition at the Warren Gallery in 1928, lending them back for his second one-man show at the Leicester Galleries in 1931, for which Epstein generously penned the Foreword quoted above.

      Jacob Epstein had proposed Henry Moore for his first public commission in 1928, namely to carve the West Wind for the London Underground Electric Railway’s Headquarters in Westminster, designed by the architect Charles Holden with whom Epstein had previously collaborated in 1908 on the notorious British Medical Association building on the Strand, made famous by the defacement of Epstein’s sculptures. With Henry Moore working some 80 feet above him, Epstein carved the two main figures for the building, Day & Night, with his 5 year old son Theodore modelling for the boy figure in the Day group. Epstein again invoked vitriol with his carvings; a typical Daily Express brickbat accused him of creating a ‘blood-sodden cannibal intoning a horrid ritual over a dead victim.’ Epstein’s two works were variously tarred, feathered and whitewashed, such was the public outcry and indeed this was to be Epstein’s last public commission for over 20 years.

      Moore endured a few insults himself throughout his career, one being from the Daily Mirror in 1931: ‘Epstein Out-Epsteined, more sculpture monstrosities, a monstrosity at an exhibition of sculpture by Mr Henry Moore which surpasses in repulsiveness even that of Mr Epstein.’ Moore was considered at this time as Epstein’s protégé, though critically he was growing in stature, with both men representing British sculpture at the Venice Biennale of 1930. In 1935 however, relations soured when Moore failed to support the group protesting against the plan to remove Epstein’s sculptures from the British Medical Association building. Epstein never forgave him and promptly sold the sculptures purchased at his first exhibition.

      Throughout his career Epstein made a number of notable portrait sculptures, including Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill, along with numerous other busts of his models.The subject of Jacob Epstein’s bust, Ivan Maisky, (1938) ‘will remain one of the central figures in the diplomatic history of Europe of the 1930s; and during the 1939 – 45 war no man played a greater part than he in the history of Anglo-Soviet relations.’ Times Obituary, 1975.

      As Soviet Ambassador to London from 1932 – 43, Maisky succeeded against the odds, in becoming one of the most popular diplomatic figures in England at the time. It is said that Epstein’s portraits in this pre-war period reflected his political leanings, leading to Victor Gollancz, publisher of the Left Book Club bringing the Ambassador and his wife to his studio one afternoon. The Maiskys appreciated Epstein’s work, especially the alabaster Madonna & Child, and in 1938 a ‘lively portrait bust’ of the ‘genial but shrewd’ Ambassador followed.

      In the 1920s Henry Moore had come to know Richard Perry Bedford, who was Assistant Keeper of Architecture & Sculpture at the Victoria & Albert Museum from 1911, becoming Keeper from 1924 – 38. Bedford had first met Moore when the former was studying sculpture at night school at the Chelsea School of Art. They shared an interest in African and Primitive sculpture, subsequently showing together as fellow sculptors in the latter part of the 1920s at Beaux Arts, Alex Reid and the Lefèvre Galleries, Glasgow.

      Bedford, alongside Moore, is mentioned as being a leading figure in the ‘New Movement’, which was associated with direct carving, though my limited research could find no other commentary on this than in books on Barbara Hepworth.

      Bedford was to go on and have a one-man show at the Lefèvre Gallery in 1936, however prior to this in 1932 and 1933 he was a member of the Seven and Five Society, (seven painters and five sculptors), originally set up in 1919 as a loosely linked group of artists. In the 1932 Leicester Galleries 7 & 5 Exhibition Bedford’s work, Quarry, a carving in Keswick slate, (no. 49) , is neatly sandwiched between Henry Moore’s Mother & Child (no. 48) and Carving, in Cumberland alabaster, (no. 50). Bedford’s full time position at the Victoria & Albert Museum put him in contact with wealthy patrons such as George Eumophopolis, Sir Michael Sadler and Sir George Hill, who he in turn introduced to the aspiring artists in his circle.

      Richard Perry Bedford’s untitled work, circa 1958, shown in this exhibition, is carved from the extremely hard Berryhead and Ashburton marbles, and is similar to his work John Dory, circa 1958, shown in the 1968 retrospective exhibition The World of Richard Bedford, held at the Minories, Colchester, both works conforming to his known semi-abstract oeuvre based on plant, animal and insect forms.

      Fiore de Henriquez, like Epstein, was well known as a portraitist and her Margot Fonteyn, 1956, Laurence Olivier, 1958, John F Kennedy, commissioned 1963, completed posthumously, and the Queen Mother, 1987, were amongst the many works she undertook in her lifetime. Fiore arrived from Italy in 1950 with her first commission of the sculptor Sir William Reid Dick causing an immediate sensation. This attracted the attention of Epstein, ‘Her talent is close to genius’ he was to say, and in 1951 he put her name forward to make three large figures for the Festival of Britain. The figurative works, made in plaster and now lost, standing approximately 11 feet high, represented the ages of iron, stone and electricity. Fiore in her extravagant manner would later claim she had negotiated the vast fee of £4,000, though public record sadly shows that she was paid only £500, and when all her costs were taken into account she made a financial, though not artistic, loss. Exhibited here, Fiore’s Leda and the Swan, circa 1958, is cast in solid bronze and relates to a group of works dated to circa 1950 – 1966.

      Other leading sculptors of the day were commissioned by the Arts Council to create works for the Festival, partly held on London’s South Bank. Henry Moore held centre stage with his Reclining Figure taking pride of place outside the Festival’s main entrance, and after 20 years Epstein was brought back once more into the public fold with his bronze Youth Advancing.

      It is interesting to note in the chronology that one year after the Festival, Henry Moore’s Standing Figure No.1 (1952), exhibited here, was cast by the Gaskin Foundry, as were two other Standing Figures, all three of which relate to Moore’s drawing, Six Standing Figures, circa 1950.

      Uli Nimptsch exhibited alongside Moore before, during and after the ’51 Festival. Their works were shown together at another Arts Council sponsored project, Sculpture in the Home; a series of five selling exhibitions held between 1945 – 59 showing contemporary sculptures within modern domestic interiors. It is on record that Nimptsch’s ‘mildly modernist’ sculptures of female nudes in terracotta and bronze, priced between £20 and £30 proved to be the most popular of all the works exhibited, though no more than 15% of all the sculptures exhibited were ever sold. Shown here Uli Nimptsch’s Reclining Nude, circa 1958, and Girl Pulling On Her Stocking, circa 1956, conform to his classical style, and images of similar models can be seen in the Arts Council’s files.

      One of Nimptsch’s major commissions was to sculpt David Lloyd George for the Members’ Lobby in the Houses of Parliament. Winston Churchill rose to speak for the last time as Prime Minister on March 28th 1955, moving to approve a statue of the late Member for Caernarfon Boroughs be erected within the precincts of the Parliamentary Estate. The statue of Lloyd George was originally commissioned from Jacob Epstein, however the preparatory work was not sufficiently advanced to be continued after his death in 1959 and the commission passed to Nimptsch.

      Nimptsch also exhibited at the Open Air series of exhibitions, again organised by the Arts Council, which ran every three years from 1948 – 1966. Battersea Park was the main venue throughout the series though Holland Park held the event in 1954, where Elisabeth Frink, at the tender age of 23, showed alongside both Epstein and Moore.

      Elisabeth Frink came into the Epstein circle in 1951 through meeting his talented but fragile painter son, Theodore Garman. His mother, Kathleen, Epstein’s muse and model, was famously shot in the arm by Epstein’s jealous wife Margaret whilst she was aiming for her heart! The following year Kathleen invited Frink to meet Epstein at his home in Hyde Park Gate. He was impressed both by Frink and her work and she subsequently became a regular, as Henry Moore had been before, at Epstein’s renowned ‘Sunday at Homes.’ She was also afforded, again as Moore before her, the rare honour of viewing Epstein’s Primitive art collection and studio, with Epstein at one time asking ‘What do you think, Frink?’, a quotation which becomes even more evocative when one remembers Epstein never lost his Brooklyn accent. Frink studied at Chelsea School of Art from 1949 – 53 where she was taught by Henry Moore’s assistant and protégé, Bernard Meadows, with Henry Moore himself dropping in to teach once a term.

      In 1955 both Frink and Epstein (now 75) married, Epstein secretly in America to Kathleen Garman, and Frink to Michael Jammet, with Epstein’s fame giving a boost to Frink’s career by his conspicuous attendance at her wedding. It was in her new husband’s family restaurant, Jammet’s in Dublin, that she met the gallery owner, Victor Waddington, who lunched there most days. On Waddington’s move to London in 1957 to open a gallery in Cork Street with his son Lesley, Frink became, in 1959, the first British artist they exhibited, a year after she joined them. It is also around this time that Elisabeth Frink’s Warrior, circa 1959, exhibited here, could have been sold. Another cast of this previously unrecorded model recently appeared in auction with a Waddington sales receipt from 1959, the Warrior shown here emerging from the collection of Mrs H Seligman who purchased a number of works in Cork Street around this time.

      In the early 1960s Henry Moore’s old friend, Lord Zuckerman, secured from Moore sculptures to provide more interesting awards than a medal or a book for the annual Zoological Society prizes. After six years Zuckermann realised the Moore sculpture prizes had become disproportionately valuable and thought to commission a ‘cheaper’ artist — ‘the one we chose was Lis Frink — and the same thing happened again!’

      It is interesting to note within the context of Connected that in 1960 Frink appeared alongside Moore as a contributor on the Home Service radio programme, A Portrait of Jacob Epstein, who had died the previous year. A posthumous connection remains between Frink and Epstein at Coventry Cathedral where one of Epstein’s last works, St. Michael and the Devil, 1958, resides on the Cathedral’s exterior and Frink’s Eagle lectern, 1963, the year of the Cathedral’s re-consecration, can be seen inside. Frink, like Epstein, carried out a number of religious commissions throughout her lifetime, and her last work The Risen Christ for Liverpool Cathedral, was poignantly unveiled a week before her death by her son Lin Jammett, on Easter Sunday 1993.

      In America in 1927 Epstein had testified on behalf of Constantin Brancusi whose sculpture, Bird in Space, 1926, was impounded by the US Customs and taxed as a ‘metal utensil’ on the grounds that it was not art as it left too much to the imagination. The government lost. Some forty years later in 1968, Moore was to defend Brian Willsher in a similar case where British Customs and Excise decided to deny his work the status of fine art, thus subjecting his work to a higher tax rate of 40% which would have, if the bureaucrats had succeeded, made Willsher bankrupt. The ensuing court case became a cause célèbre, as recorded in the Guardian article ‘When is a sculpture not a sculpture?’ The case however, though won, damaged the confidence of Willsher, who had previously exhibited at the Royal Academy and had held several successful one-man shows. He was not to exhibit regularly again for another 20 years. The work of Brian Willsher, Untitled, 1973, in this exhibition is typical of his style, fashioned by his own patented band saw cutting machine.

      Epstein and Frink predominantly worked alone, however Moore had over 50 assistants throughout his career, all of whom worked for notoriously low wages. Some assistants, like Clive Sheppard who arrived in 1960, worked only for a short period, having studied previously at St Martin’s College of Art under one of Moore’s earlier assistants, Anthony Caro. The work of Clive Sheppard, Three Standing Figures, 1963, shown here, can clearly be seen to be influenced by Moore’s own earlier three standing figure groups.

      John Farnham however, born and brought up next door to Henry Moore in Perry Green, was Moore’s longest serving assistant, working for him full time from 1965, having worked part time since 1960. Farnham gained a unique insight into Moore’s life and work, travelling the world setting up his exhibitions, running the workshops, and acting as a link between Moore and the various bronze foundries. As can be seen here in this exhibition John Farnham’s, Spiral Form, (1975) has the same patination as Henry Moore’s Standing Figure No. 1, (1952). This is not a coincidence, as Farnham patinated and finished Moore’s bronzes. In discussion with Mr Farnham he described to me their common patination technique as starting with a liver of sulphur base coat applied when the bronze is warm, turning the bronze black. A coat of ammonium chloride mixed with just the right amount — only a couple of drops required — of ferric chloride , is then applied, again when the metal is warm, turning with skill the surface coat of the bronze to verdigris. This is a tricky procedure as flaking may occur if the temperatures are not just right. It will be a great pleasure to welcome Mr Farnham to this exhibition on its opening.

      I truly hope you have found these connections interesting. For me they added an insight into all the artists’ histories, and colour to their personalities. To end this essay I would like to come full circle, and quote Moore on Epstein:‘I first met Jacob Epstein in the mid 1920s, a time when I was unknown and he was the most famous sculptor in Britain and I have two reasons to be grateful to him, both in a way personal, but one more personal than the other. He bought works of mine, before I ever had an exhibition and he showed an excitement in my work, as he did in everything else that he liked or loved, which was characteristic of the man, and which perhaps is not found as often as one might hope in the attitude of a famous artist towards his juniors.
      This vital quality, this engagement of himself — I remember that on one occasion he jumped into a taxi with a piece of sculpture of mine he had just bought from me, even though I did not regard it as completely finished, because it was his and therefore he wanted it then and there was perhaps one of the most attractive qualities of the man. He was strong and immediate in his likes and also in his dislikes.
      And this immediacy and strength drew forth a similar response. In the years before and just after the First World War, while he was perhaps the sculptor most admired by the perceptive, he was undoubtedly the most loathed by the philistines.
      And that is the second, and slightly less personal, cause for my feeling of gratitude towards Epstein. He took the brickbats, he took the insults, he faced the howls of derision with which artists since Rembrandt have learnt to be familiar. And as far as sculpture in this century is concerned, he took them first.
      We, of the generation that succeeded him were spared a great deal, simply because his sturdy personality and determination had taken so much. Sculpture always arouses more violent emotions than say painting simply because it is three dimensional. It cannot be ignored. It is there. And I believe that the sculptors who followed Epstein in this country would have been more insulted than they have been had the popular fury not partially spent itself on him and had not the folly of that fury been revealed.’

      Jacob Epstein, extract from An Appreciation by Henry Moore, The Sunday Times, August 23rd 1959.

      Alex Puddy
      8 November 2010


      Categories: Art Galleries & Exhibits

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