Lynn Chadwick, British (1914 - 2003)

Lynn Chadwick

Lynn Chadwick was born in London in 1914. He attended the Merchant Taylors' School, and after taking his School Certificate stayed on to study drawing, watercolor and oil painting. He was then sent to Vouvray to study French. From 1933 to 1939 he worked as an architectural draughtsman in London, then spent some time as a farm laborer before volunteering for the Fleet Air Arm and gaining a commission (1941-44).

Chadwick's roots in architecture, as well as his experience as a wartime pilot, influenced his career as a sculptor. Chadwick's mobile sculpture constructed from aluminum and balsa wood was shown at a Building Trades Exhibition in 1947. He made a fast rise to success with his sculpture and had his first one-man exhibition at Gimpel Fils in London in 1950. In 1953 he was one of the twelve semifinalists for the Unknown Political Prisoner International Sculpture Competition, in which he was awarded an honorable mention and prize. By 1956 his reputation as a sculptor was confirmed.

Gaining inspiration from organic shapes and spiked forms, Chadwick became engrossed in creating sculpture of internal tension and outer strength. Chadwick's approach to sculpture is based on construction rather than modeling. He first makes a linear armature or skeleton on to which he applies a skin, building up the surface to a solid form. Earlier works featured a more textured finish. Aggressive bird-like creatures began to emerge, perhaps symbolizing the experience of war and its aftermath. Gradually the dramatic, troublesome aspects of these forms were weakened as smoother surfaces and less aggressive visual imagery materialized. The evolution of Chadwick's human and animal forms grew more harmonious. Stylistic formulas of pyramids and wingspans were reduced to anecdotal, almost sentimental symbols: seated couples, walking figures or standing forms, reminiscent of gentler imagery. These static, monumental figures were frequently designed to be placed outdoors.

Chadwick has created a permanent exhibition of his work at his Gloucestershire home, Lypiatt Park, which also houses a foundry, Pangolin Editions. This is where he casts most of his work, from monumental bronzes to miniatures in silver. Lynn Chadwick remains a leading figure in contemporary British sculpture.

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