Born in London in 1914, Lynn Chadwick initially trained as an architectural draughtsman before establishing himself as one of the greatest post-War British sculptors of the 20th century. Having worked until 1939 as a draughtsman in several architects’ practices in London his architectural grounding clearly had an influence on the artist’s style and innovative approach to creating sculpture.
After serving as a Royal Navy Pilot in 1939 Chadwick decided to focus on watercolour and oil painting and worked freelance as a designer but it was in the 1950s that Chadwick’s career took off. In 1951 Chadwick was commissioned to produce three works for the Festival of Britain exhibition and in 1952 his prominence on the art scene continued to rise when he took part in the New Aspects of British Sculpture’ exhibition in Venice with artists such as Reg Butler and Eduardo Paolozzi. Four years later Chadwick won the International Prize for Sculpture at the Biennale in 1956. A prize winner in The Unknown Political Prisoner Sculpture Competition in 1953, and his success as the Biennale cemented his position as a leader of the ‘Geometry of Fear’ movement.
Considering Chadwick’s artistic career spanned nearly 50 years it was not until his early thirties that he even began working as a sculptor. His early work consisted of abstract mobiles and his first mobile was shown at the Building Trades Exhibition in 1947 and in 1950 Gimpel Fils held his first solo exhibition. Chadwick was self-trained and was extremely skilled in handling metal. His later work evolved into recognisable simplified human figures with the female head reduced to a triangle, legs straight and spike like in appearance, and drapery executed as if a flowing form. Constructed of iron rods welded together, either life size of reduced down in scale the result’s were always dramatic and timeless.
Chadwick’s imagination and technical ability has led the world’s leading museums and collections to acquire his works. Chadwick’s most importance and recent exhibition was a retrospective held at Tate Britain in 2003.
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