Telling Tales - 1950s London

From Ancient Egypt to Baroque Bologna to avant-garde Moscow, the works at Frieze Masters open up a world of stories

A very rare 'beast'

Blain|Southern, H1

Lynn Chadwick, Beast, 1953, welded iron, copper sheet & glass, 214 cm high 

Lynn Chadwick, Beast, 1953, welded iron, copper sheet & glass, 214 cm high


One of Lynn Chadwick’s most significant works of the 1950s, this work dates from the beginning of his career. Though he only received his first solo show in 1950, at Gimpel Fils, in 1952 he was invited to show in the British Pavillion at the Venice Biennale, where critic Herbert Read related his and his generation’s works to TS Eliot’s line in the ‘The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock’: ‘ragged claws/ Scuttling across the floors of silent seas’. In 1956, Chadwick became the youngest ever winner of the Biennale’s International Sculpture Prize, surpassing that year’s favourite, Giacometti. Only in this period does the artist incorporate glass in his sculptures, which, not being formally trained, Chadwick worked on in a distinctive way: welding an ‘armature’ or frame which he filled with Stolit (a malleable gypsum mixture), the surface of which could be manipulated. A maquette for an unrealized monumental piece, this work is unique. It has been exhibited only once before, at London’s Whitechapel Gallery in 1995, having remained in the possession of one family since.

Issue 3

First published in Issue 3

October 2016

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