Lynn Chadwick, R.A. - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale Hong Kong Saturday, November 23, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Osborne Samuel Gallery, London
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Literature

    Dennis Farr & Eva Chadwick, Lynn Chadwick Sculptor, With a Complete Illustrated Catalogue 1947-2003, Farnham, 2014, no. 654s, p. 294 (illustrated)
    Dennis Farr and Eva Chadwick, Lynn Chadwick Sculptor, With a Complete Illustrated Catalogue 1947-2005, Aldershot 2006, no. 654s, p. 288 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Lynn Chadwick, CBE RA was one of the leading British post-war sculptors. Trained as an architectural draughtsman, he created starkly expressive sculptures through "drawing in steel rods" (the artist quoted in Michael Bird, Lynn Chadwick, Farnham, 2014, p. 8), which became welded armatures for his distinctive semi-abstract bronze and steel sculptures.

    Chadwick started out creating mobiles constructed of wire, balsa wood and cut copper and brass shapes, before moving on to creating grounded "stabiles" akin to those of Alexander Calder. His critical breakthrough came swiftly, with his first major exhibition of his mobiles at Gimpel Fils gallery in 1950, and major recognition followed just a few years later when he was awarded the coveted International Sculpture Prize at the 1956 Venice Biennale, becoming its then-youngest recipient. Recalling this period, Chadwick said:

    “I actually wanted to produce a sort of touchable object, a tangible object. I really wanted to do that rather than be involved with intangible things like architecture which was slightly intangible to me because it had meant, in my case, drawing after drawing after drawing for projects which were never realised. In my case, I wanted to do it to have some reality in front of me” (the artist quoted in Paul Levine, Lynn Chadwick: The Sculptor and His World; The Artist and His Work, Leiden, 1988, p. 55).

    Chadwick experimented with other natural forms, insect and animal, but by the end of the 1960s he largely devoted his time to working on groups of human figures such as Pair of Sitting Figures 1. These figurative sculptures were influenced by the Easter Island figures and Greek mythology. Half human and half abstract, geometric beast, they were a visual embodiment of the classical dichotomy between the Apollonian and Dionysiac: the rational, ordered being and its struggle against the emotional, the irrational and the chaotic. The English art historian Herbert Read noted that since Chadwick's rise to critical acclaim, his works had ventured yet further towards a "preoccup[ation] with states of attention or alertness in the human figure or the animal. His aim is to incorporate a moment of maximum intensity, and this he does by the most direct means – the reduction of bodily attitudes to their magnetic lines of force" (the artist quoted in Judith Collins, Lynn Chadwick: the Collection at Lypiatt Park, New York, 2006, p. 22).

    Pair of Sitting Figures 1 is a tribute to a simple and age-old theme: enduring love and companionship. Despite their mute facelessness (in the 1970s Chadwick developed a simple, striking system for distinguishing male and female subjects, depicting men with rectangular heads and women with triangular ones), Pair of Sitting Figures 1 exudes a distinctly vulnerable, human quality. Though sat apart, cloaked literally and metaphorically, both figures speak of an intimacy and closeness with tilted knees and bowed heads, caught in eternal conversation.

    Chadwick's distinctive sculptural technique throws into sharp relief the very human essence of emotion: “the way that you make something talk by the way the neck is bent, or the attitude of the head; you can actually make these sculptures talk, they say something according to the exact balance” (the artist quoted in Dennis Farr and Eva Chadwick, Lynn Chadwick Sculpture, with a Complete Illustrated Catalogue 1947-2003, Farnham, 2014, p.28). Cast in bronze, Chadwick used a matt patina over most of the sculpture, but with faces (or sometimes chests) burnished to a golden, otherworldly sheen. His foray into naturalism, with pleated drapery in Pair of Sitting Figures 1 (sometimes billowing, for example in Pair of Walking Figures – Jubilee 1977) brings a touch of poignant realism to the scene, an unresolved tension that renders the work's impact both immediate and timeless.

    Today Chadwick's sculptures and drawings form part of many of the most distinguished museum collections of the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Gallery in London and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.


Pair of Sitting Figures 1

incised with the artist's name, date and number 'CHADWICK 654/S 5/6 87' along the edge
63 x 66 x 56 cm (24 3/4 x 25 7/8 x 22 in.)
Executed in 1987, this work is number 5 from an edition of 6.

HK$800,000 - 1,200,000 

Sold for HK$1,250,000

Contact Specialist
Charlotte Raybaud
Head of Evening Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 24 November 2019