Modernism in British visual arts defines a period of change in artists’ thinking and practice from the late nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. Against the background of industrial and cultural change, and the First and Second World Wars, artists began to reject traditional forms of working. Realism in painting and sculpture was set aside in order to capture the feeling and atmosphere of a wider range of subject matter.
Chris Ingram has an abiding interest in British Art of this period, and since 2001 has built a considerable collection of paintings, sculpture, drawings and prints that reflect not only turbulent times up to the mid-twentieth century, but also the landscape, domestic subjects and scenes from everyday life. For this exhibition, we have chosen to focus on bronze sculptures that cover a wide range of form and thought. However, in order to show a breadth of working method, two pieces constructed in iron are included.
The earliest piece in the selection is Leon Underwood’s Atalanta 1938. Atalanta, a female hunter in Greek mythology, would marry only if a man could beat her in a race. She won many races and, as part of her challenge, always killed the men she defeated. Hipponomenes arrived to brave the race, carrying with him three golden apples given to him by Aphrodite. Atalanta always gave the men a head start as she was an incredibly fast runner, but as Hipponomenes ran he dropped the apples in her path. As she stopped to pick them up, he won the race. Underwood’s sculpture is full of Atalanta’s energy, her long arms and legs spurring her onwards, golden apples in her hands. Underwood also suggests speed through Atalanta’s hair, flowing horizontally because of her forward thrust.
Sir Jacob Epstein’s Second Portrait of Deidre (in a Slip) 1941-42 depicts his cook and housekeeper, who worked for the family from 1939 to 1942. During the years 1941 and 1942 he made three sculptures of her and this very loosely modelled version shows his debt to Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), the French sculptor who many consider to be the father of Modernism. The portrait shows Deidre in a natural pose, tousled hair and dishevelled garment revealing her breasts and upper arms. In formal terms the composition of the sculpture convincingly describes skin, hair and transparent fabric with one of the densest of sculptors’ materials. Balance in the portrait is marked – point and counterpoint – through Epstein’s differing treatments of textural elements and drapes.
Ten years on from the Epstein portrait, sculptor Geoffrey Clarke’s Head 1952 reveals a remarkably different approach to form. In this sculpture Clarke has taken the proportions of a human head but rendered it in abstract terms. The viewer is still able to interpret human features, but may also see the sculpture as a composition of contrasts, constructed rather than modelled – vertical and horizontal members, concave and convex parts, open and closed areas with strong directional elements tethered to make a convincing whole. Whilst based in the human form, Clarke has not sought to make a human likeness.
Reg Butler, older than Geoffrey Clarke by eleven years, was his contemporary as an active artist. His Woman on a Boat 1953 shows how very different his approach to form was from that of Clarke. Butler’s preferred subject, the female form, was central to his work. In his later years he took the female figure to extremes of exaggerated poses, sculpted in polychrome bronze painted in a photo realist way. Here the figure is stretched, with elongated legs, arms and neck, standing in light balance on the minimally articulated boat. The sculpture, while economically structured, is full of discrete incident. From the serenity of Butler’s standing figure to the intense force of movement in Robert Clatworthy’s Horse and Rider c.1955, one begins to see that sculpture of this period could be individual and diverse. Clatworthy specialised in sculpting animals, and later focused on abstract heads and figures. His treatment of this subject here is highly expressive, capturing the feeling of horse and rider moving fast.
Kenneth Armitage came to prominence in the 1950s when his work was included in the 1952 Venice Biennale. The simplicity of his Standing Figure 1955 has qualities earlier found in Reg Butler’s Woman on a Boat, with limbs exaggerated and the head indicated with sparse detail. The overriding poignancy in this piece speaks of Armitage’s understanding of the human condition.
Armitage served in the army during the Second World War, after which he taught at Bath Academy of Art, while establishing himself as a significant artist throughout the 1950s and 1960s.When he wonthe International War Memorial Competition for the town of Krefeld in Germany with his Model for the Krefeld Monument No. 2 1956, this further heightened his reputation, although the project was never realised. This piece is typical of his work of the period, in which he featured conjoined figures in many of his sculptures. In this version the skeletal forms of shelled buildings are incorporated as part of the figures.
Pandarus: variation 1962 is an early example in a series of sculptures made between 1962 and 1965 that Armitage devoted to the theme of the Trojan aristocratPandarus. In Homer’s Iliad Pandarus is portrayed as an energetic and impetuous warrior. Armitage’s versions are loosely based on the human figure standing firm and with hollow conical funnels reaching out like arms. The variation on the theme exhibited here is one of the smaller in the series, of which many are life-sized.
Lynn Chadwick was a close contemporary of Armitage, and was also included in the 1952 Venice Biennale, which in addition to Armitage and Chadwick featured the work of other new generation artists Reg Butler and Bernard Meadows. All were moving away from the influence of Barbara Hepworth (1903-75), Henry Moore (1898-1986) and Ben Nicholson (1894-1982) and their cool abstraction, making work that was more edgy, twisted and spiky, in both human and animal subjects. This was the post-war period of the Cold War and prevailing fears of the atomic bomb. At the time, the art historian Herbert Read coined the phrase ‘the geometry of fear’ in relation to the work of these artists with regard to the linear and cursive qualities of their sculptures.
Chadwick’s Beast X 1956 and Bird IX 1959 exemplify Read’s view, as their spiked forms and sharp edges point to aggression borne of self-protection. Later Alligator 1961, while still of geometric composition, is much more optimistic and playful. Made at the beginning of the hedonistic sixties (the new wave of rock and roll having begun in the fifties), Chadwick took for his title words from Bill Haley’s iconic song See You Later, Alligator, released in 1956. A noteworthy aspect of
Chadwick’s working method was his interest in using the industrial technique of welding. He had worked as an architectural draughtsman before the Second World War, which is strongly evident in the linearity and geometric forms that are characteristic of his sculpture, but which also gave him some knowledge of construction methods that he put to good use in his sculptural work. This expertly welded piece seems to herald a period of optimism and fun.
Second Girl sitting on a Bench 1988 is one of a series of cast bronzes of single and multiple seated, standing or moving figures that engaged Chadwick’s interest throughout the 1980s. They are marked by their geometric heads, some of which were thrown into strong focus because of their highly polished surface in contrast with the patina used for the rest of the figure. Although not part of the Ingram Collection, Chadwick’s Couple on Seat 1984, located in Canary Wharf’s Cabot Square, is part of this series of seated figures; larger than life, they look towards Wren Landing.
Bernard Meadows, again part of the group exhibited at the 1952 Venice Biennale, worked on sculptures that have the most jagged and uncomfortable forms. He had been based in the Cocos Islands for part of the SecondWorld War and became fascinated by crabs on the beaches, which later featured in many of his works. Cock (Fountain Figure) 1959 has some of the same frenetic energy as these creatures and as a model for a fountain also hints at his wry humour. An assistant to Henry
Moore from 1936 to 1939, Meadows’ post-war work revealed a determination to forge his own path as a sculptor. Moore always encouraged his assistants and students to seek new ways of working.
William Turnbull, a painter and sculptor, foundinspiration for his sculpture in the art and artefacts of tribal cultures and mythology. At the time when he made Strange Fruit 1959 he was turning away from figurative work, developing pure abstraction in both his painting and sculpture. Strange Fruit may be seen as a transitional piece. The resting, ovoid form with its pale green patina is in poised equilibrium – a quality shared with Blade of Venus 1985, which stands permanently at the centre of the ground floor of One Canada Square.
Dame Elisabeth Frink is highly regarded for her sculptures of animals and figures, most commonly the male form. Goggle Head 1969 is a fine example from a series of distinctive heads Frink began working on in the 1960s, which she said led on to the goggle heads’…which were the reflection of my feelings about the [then] Algerian War and the Moroccan strong men. One, called Oufkir, was largely held responsible for the death of the Algerian freedom fighter Ben Barka. Oufkir had an extraordinarily sinister face: always in dark sunglasses. These goggle heads became for me a symbol of evil and destruction in North Africa and, in the end, everywhere else.’ (Elisabeth Frink Sculpture Catalogue Raisonn, Harpvale 1984).
In Memoriam III 1983 is framed in very different terms from those of the earlier Goggle Head. Here Frink was thinking further about the brutalisation of mankind and made three versions of this head, all of which show profound humanity in remembrance of all who had suffered for their beliefs.
Although Frink had made sculptures on religious subjects, some to commission, it is unusual to see her working with the female form. In Walking Madonna 1981 she shows the Virgin Mary as an older woman, her face and hands are aged, reflecting her suffering. However she exhibits a core strength and vigour in her determined stride. A version of this sculpture was purchased by Salisbury Cathedral in 1981, and the Very Reverend Sydney Evans, then Dean of the Cathedral, commented: ‘This figure symbolises for her [Frink] human dignity and creativity over materiality and totalitarian disregard of human dignity and rights’. The sculpture also asserts, according to Frink, that ‘women have a chance to play a much stronger role in the world and may perhaps be the saving grace that gets us out of the mess we are in.’
Robert Adams was a significant sculptor of the modern post-war generation in Britain, although not as generally well known as his contemporaries. A painter initially, he moved on to sculpture, making early carvings in stone. He worked also in wood, turning to welding metal in the post-war period. These were largely abstract pieces, carefully composed. Sentinel One, Opus 390 1979, cast in bronze, is a mature work in which he contrasts highly polished areas with a support of black patina. A sentinel, guard or watchman traditionally held a weapon for the purpose of protecting what or who he was guarding. This sometimes took the form of an axehead, which may be seen in this sculpture, but might also be considered as a purely sculptural form. Adams, like Frink in Goggle Head and Chadwick in Second Girl sitting on a Bench, used the contrast of highly polished and patinated bronze to great sculptural effect.
Sir Eduardo Paolozzi’s Portrait of the Artist 1988 is based on an earlier sculpture, The Artist as Hephaestus 1987, commissioned by the London and Paris Property Group for the front of their offices in High Holborn. The plaster and polystyrene model for the sculpture is in the National Portrait Gallery, London. Hephaestus, the Greek god of Fire is equivalent to the Roman god Vulcan who Paolozzi had featured in an earlier self-portrait. Paolozzi’s strength as a sculptor comes through in this robotic rendering of form, a feature in much of his work, including his prints and collages.
The Ingram Collection is strong on works of art that show relationships between artists, their mutual influences and differences. The items in this selection pay tribute to the vigour and search for change in their art when the world order was one of rapid change and expansion. These sculptors and painters of post-war Britain laid the foundation for further innovation and development in successive generations of artists.
Robert Adams (1917-1984)
A sculptor and painter, Adams studied at Northampton School of Art 1937-44, attending evening classes in life drawing and painting whist working in a range of jobs that included engineering and printing. He moved to London after the Second World War, where he taught at the Central School of Arts and Crafts and became one of the most influential practitioners in British Constructivism.
Kenneth Armitage cbe ra (1916-2002)
Like Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, Kenneth Armitagestudied at Leeds College of Art 1933-37. From 1937-39 he studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, London. During the war he served in the army and when demobbed in 1946 he taught at Bath Academy of Art where he was Head of Sculpture until 1956. He was later a visiting tutor at the Royal College of Art, London 1974-79.
Reg Butler (1913-1981)
Butler studied at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, London 1937-39. A conscientious objector during the war, he set up a blacksmithing business repairing farmimplements. Having attended life drawing classes at Chelsea School of Art on moving to London, he began to make sculpture in 1944, although having no formal training as a sculptor.
Lynn Chadwick cbe ra (1914-2003)
A sculptor and maker of mobiles, Chadwick was educated at the Merchant Taylor’s School in London. He worked as a draughtsman in a number of London architect’s offices until 1939 and served in the Royal Navy as a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm 1941-44, followed by a period as a freelance designer until 1952. He wonfirst prize at the Concorso Internazionale del Bronzetto held at Padua 1959 and was awarded the CBE in 1964.
Geoffrey Clarke (b. 1924)
Clarke studied at Preston School of Art 1940-41 and at Manchester School of Art 1941-42. He then joined the Royal Air Force. On his return to civilian life he took up his studies again, first at Morecambe School of Arts and Crafts 1947-48 and the Royal College of Art 1948-52. Clarke works largely to commission in his own foundry, located in a barn at his home in Suffolk.
Robert Clatworthy ra (b. 1928)
Clatworthy studied at the West of England College of Art 1945-46, Chelsea School of Art 1947-49 and at the Slade School of Fine Art 1950-51. He taught until the mid 1970s, initially at the Royal College of Art 1960-72 and at the West of England College of Art 1967-71. He was Governor of St Martin’s School of Art from 1970-71 and Head of the Department of Fine Art at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London 1971-75.
Sir Jacob Epstein (1880-1959)
An American of Polish Jewish parentage, Epstein was born and brought up in New York where he attended art classes at the Art Students League in c.1896. He went to evening classes in c.1899 where he began to sculpt under the tuition of George Grey Bernard (1863-1938). He travelled to Paris, where he spent six months at the cole des Beaux-Arts and afterwards studied at the Acadmie Julian. Epstein settled in London in 1905 and became a British citizen in 1907.
Dame Elisabeth Frink ch ra (1930-1993)
A sculptor and print-maker, Frink studied at Guildford School of Art 1946-49 and at Chelsea School of Art 1949-53. She was associated with the post-war group of British sculptors, including Reg Butler, Bernard Meadows and Eduardo Paolozzi, although her chosen subjects were rendered more naturalistically. She lived in France between 1967 and 1970, finally settling in Dorset where she established her studio, now home to the Elisabeth Frink Estate that holds her archive and a representative range of her work.
Bernard Meadows (1915-2005)
Meadows studied at the Norwich School of Art 1934-36 and at the Royal College of Art 1938-40 and 1946-48. He was Henry Moore’s first studio assistant 1936-39. Initially a conscientious objector, Meadows joined the Royal Air Force when Germany invaded the USSR in 1941. Meadows was Professor of Sculptureat the Royal College of Art 1960-1980. He returned to Moore’s studio from 1977, continuing to work for The Henry Moore Foundation after Moore’s death.
Sir Eduardo Paolozzi cbe ra (1924-2005)
A polymath, Paolozzi was a sculptor, collagist, printmaker, filmmaker and writer. Of Italian parentage, he was born in Edinburgh. He studied at Edinburgh College of Art in 1943, St Martin’s School of Art in 1944 and the Slade School of Fine Art 1944-47. He then worked in Paris 1947-49, moving back to London and establishing his studio in Chelsea. Paolozzi taught at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London 1949-55 and at the Royal College of Art’s Department of Ceramics and Glass.
William Turnbull (1922-2012)
Having left school in 1937, Turnbull took jobs as a labourer, attending evening art classes at Dundee University. He worked in the illustration department of D C Thompson, a periodical company from 1939 to1941 when he was drafted into the Royal Air Force as a pilot. In 1946 he joined the Painting Department of the Slade School of Fine Art, but changed to the Sculpture Department. A great traveller, Turnbull visited countries in the Far East and the Tropics, looking at the art and architecture of cultures, which inspired his work. He taught part-time at the Central School of Arts and Crafts 1964-72.
Leon Underwood (1890-1975)
A sculptor, painter and writer, Underwood studied at Regent Street Polytechnic 1907-10, at the Royal College of Art 1910-13 and after the First World War – when he served in the RECamouflage Section – at the Slade School of Fine Art 1919-20.
Entrepreneur, businessman and art collector, Chris Ingram’s interests are wide and generously shared. He is regarded as the inventor of the modern media agency, having established and run many companies in the communications and marketing sector. He set up Ingram Enterprise LLP in 2008, which invests and actively assists ambitious entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises in the communications, sport and digital sectors in London and New York.
With a passion for football, Ingram is the owner of Woking Football Club, which he rescued in 2002. Woking, where he was educated, is of particular importance to him, and his 350 piece collection of Modern British Art is on permanent loan to the recently established Lightbox, a prize-winning venue for exhibitions and local history. Ingram was voted UK Business to Business Entrepreneur of the Year in Ernst & Young’s awards in 2002. In 2003-4, he was Entrepreneur in Residence at Wharton Business School. In July 2007 he was made an Honorary Fellow of London Business School where he is closely involved with the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Faculty. He was Deputy Chairman of London Business School’s Foundation for Entrepreneurial Management until 2007 and from 2002-8 was Chairman of the Centre for Creative Business, a joint venture between London Business School and the University of Arts, London to help principals in the creative industries improve their general business skills.
Since 2008 he has been the major shareholder and Chairman of Sports Revolution, the in-stadia, media and technology specialist.
Canary Wharf is most grateful to Chris Ingram for his generosity in lending sculptures from his collection for this exhibition. We also thank The Lightbox, Woking, for facilitating the loans.
List of Works
Sentinel One, Opus 390
H 40.6 cm
Bronze with a green and white patina
H 71.7 cm
Model for the
Bronze with a black patina
H 35.6 cm
H 61.5 cm
Woman on a Boat
H 58 cm
Bronze with a grey patina
L 64.8 cm
Bronze with a green blue patina
L 49.5 cm
Iron and composition
H 121.9 cm
Second Girl sitting
on a Bench
Bronze with a dark brown patina
H 91.4 cm
H 31.12 cm
Horse and Rider
Bronze with a dark brown patina
H 50.8 cm
Sir Jacob Epstein
Second Portrait of
Deidre (in a Slip)
Bronze with a brown patina
H 54.6 cm
Dame Elisabeth Frink
Bronze with a dark brown patina
H 61 cm
Dame Elisabeth Frink
Bronze with a dark brown patina
H 205.7 cm
Dame Elisabeth Frink
In Memoriam III
H 132.1 cm
Cock (Fountain Figure)
H 156 cm
Sir Eduardo Paolozzi
Portrait of the Artist
Bronze with a black patina
H 149.9 cm
H 22 cm
Bronze with a dark brown patina
H 43.2 cm
Article courtesy of Ann Elliott (August 2013)
Click here to download the PDF version of Bronze sculptures from the Ingram Collection – with images enclosed.