Page 18 - Studio International - March 1965
P. 18

The  Phenomenon of  British  Sculpture

    1                        by  Charles  S.  Spencer

                             The  Contemporary  Art  Society  has  followed  up  its   submissive  to  inspire  sculpture.  Sculpture  calls  for
                             recent survey of  British painting with a double exhibi­  greater  attack  and  vitality  than  has  been  common  in
                             tion  British  Sculpture  in  the  Sixties  at  the  Tate  and   the  English artistic temperament.
                             Whitechapel Galleries. This article is not a review of the   There is also what might be termed the socio-religious
                             work displayed. but an assessment of  the phenomenon   problem.  All  art  in  its  origins  had  a  religious,  magical
                             and quality  of  modern  British sculpture.       base,  the  role  of  interpreting,  or  at  least  representing.
                              There  can  be  no  denying  the  extraordinary  fact  that   the  unknown  and  supernatural,  providing  tactile
                             after  centuries  of  sculptural  desert.  without  a  single   contact  with  these  mysteries.  In  ancient  and  primitive
                             figure  to  compare  with  Hogarth,  Gainsborough,  Con­  societies  the  visual  arts  usually  reached  their  highest
                             stable  or Turner,  or the  giants  of  English  literature,  we   intensity  in  providing  symbols  of  religious  mysteries.
                             have in the last forty years produced a body of sculpture   And sculpture, by making a 'thing', a three-dimensional
                             and a group of  artists of  wide renown.  That in itself  is   form.  both  interpreted  the  unknown  and  provided  the
                             worth  a fanfare.  Headed by the distinguished  figure  of   focus  for worship.
                             Henry  Moore,  with  Barbara  Hepworth  in  attendance,   This tradition was not lost in  Europe.  largely through
                             and  a  court  of  younger  talents,  contemporary  British   the  Catholic  Church,  which  employed  and  nurtured
                             sculpture  outshines  painting.  Ben  Nicholson  is  equal   native schools of  sculpture, in  Italy, France and  Spain.
                             to  Moore  in  stature,  and  Pasmore,  Alan  Davie  and   Thus  the  ancient  craft  of  idol-making was maintained.
                             Francis  Bacon  enjoy  global  status,  but  in  the  inter­  In  Protestant  countries  the  continuity  was  broken.
                             national stakes our sculptors are well ahead.     -he  ancient  Hebraic  commandment  against  image­
     1                        The  whole  situation  is  an  intriguing  mystery.  How,   making and worship was invoked in a new iconoclasm.
     Henry  Moore
     Three piece Reclining Figure   suddenly,  with  no  apparent lineage,  was  a  school  of   Without this traditional outlet it was impossible to train
     1961 /62                British  sculpture  born.  Being  a  more  'real',  three­  , nd develop native talent.  It is interesting to speculate
     Bronze 59  x  114 in.
     2                       dimensional  art  form,  concerned  with  the  making  of   (In the  possible influence on  each  other  of terrain  and
     Geoffrey Clarke
     Recent Sculpture        'things'-in  the  sense  that  shapes  and  colours  on  flat   1 '1e  spiritual  needs  of  society,  and  on  the  English
     Cast alum;nium          surfaces are not 'things'-sculpture must relate to forms   1,mperament.  Puritanism  has  certainly  affected  the
     Redfern  Gallery
     3                       around us. With a notorious predilection for ugliness in   I ind of art we produce and may well have delayed the
     Barbara  Hepworth       the post-industrial period, the  English are unconcerned   ! mergence  of  a  school  of  sculpture.
     Pierced form
     Pentelicon marble       about their surroundings, whilst the English countryside   Modern  sculpture  is  still  idol-making.  but  in  our
     Height 50 in.
     Tate Gallery            which  inspired  schools  of  painters  is  too  gentle  and   ;,narchistic,  fragmented.  faithless  world,  the  idols  are
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