Lynn Chadwick was one of the foremost British sculptors of the post-war period. He was a creator of mobiles and stabiles as well as abstract welded construction, before developing more naturalistic and figurative works.
Chadwick was born in Barnes, London on the 24th November 1914. He trained as a draughtsman in an architect’s office and during the war, served as a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm (1941-44). Following the war he returned to his pre-war employer, the architect Rodney Thomas in London, with whose encouragement he produced mobiles, textile and furniture designs and received a commission from the Aluminium Development Association. With an income from his design work Chadwick left London for Gloucestershire to concentrate on sculpture. His first one man show was held at Gimpel Fils in 1950 and he produced three constructions, including ‘Cypress’ for the South Bank Festival of Britain in 1951. He exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1952 and the following year was awarded a prize in ‘The Unknown Political Prisoner’ sculpture competition before winning the International Sculpture Prize at the Venice Biennale of 1956, the youngest to have ever been awarded this prize.
Chadwick had established himself as an internationally renowned sculptor in less than a decade. His constructions, using iron rods and sheet metal, involved engineering and construction expertise and a high degree of skill in welding. These rods would form an armature creating space and would be covered with a mixture of plaster and iron fillings known as ‘stolit’ which could be carved and cut to create the surface texture required.
In the late 1950’s Chadwick turned to bronze which could also be cast in editions and he turned towards more natural, animal and figurative works.
The 1960’s saw Chadwick develop an interest in the movement, pose and attitude of the human figure seen in the abstract form. The succeeding decades saw him formalise this approach, with most male figures having rectangular heads, and females’ triangular heads, these being produced primarily in single figures or pairs.
Chadwick was awarded the CBE in 1964 and has been regarded as the natural successor to Henry Moore. A sculptor who almost invariably worked on his own he was an innovator with great engineering skills, a sculptor who achieved significant international success and within just a few years. Chadwick died in Gloucester 25th April 2003.
His works can be found in museums in: London, Royal Academy and Tate Britain; Paris; Stockholm and Venice.