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Meijer Gardens Premiere Major U.S. Retrospective Exhibition of British Sculptor Lynn Chadwick
Lynn Chadwick. Three Standing Figures ABC. Photo courtesy of the Phillip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art, Ursinus College.

GRAND RAPIDS, MI.- Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, one of world’s most comprehensive sculpture and botanic experiences, is the premier location of the first U.S. retrospective exhibition of British sculptor Lynn Chadwick, since the artist’s death in 2003. “Lynn Chadwick: In Contact” is on view October 9, 2009, through January 3, 2010. More than 40 sculptures and five lithographs trace five decades of Chadwick’s career as one of the most important British sculptors of the 20th century.

Chadwick’s sculptures display a fascinating evolution of personal images through a powerful series of abstracted human figures, animals, birds and imaginary beasts. Chadwick continued developing his critically acclaimed body of work into the late 20th century.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to present this important survey of Chadwick’s sculpture,” said Joseph Becherer, Chief Curator and Vice President at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. “His role as one of the seminal British artists of the 20th century is undisputed as are his is contributions to the figurative tradition in sculpture.”

Chronologically, the exhibition begins with the highly geometric and strongly linear figures and beasts of the 1950s and traces Chadwick’s career through the majestic and sensuous male and female forms of the 1980s. Some of the most important conceptual frameworks of 20th century art— Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, and Existentialism—are clearly understood in the display of more than 40 sculptures.

"I look upon an artist as a person who is in contact with humanity generally and is able to act as a sort of connecting link to express to them how they are," said Chadwick in an interview prior to his death. "I do not analyze my work with my senses. I wait until I have got the feeling that I know what I am going to do before starting to work. A conscious effort to draw ideas from their subconscious sources would lame and slow down the creative capacity."

Chadwick frequently used trapezoids, triangles and rectangles to create his forms. Many figures also portrayed or implied movement such as his early mobiles, his dancing Teddy Boy and Girl series in the 1950s, his cloaked walking women with windswept hair in the 1980s and his figures ascending or descending stairs. His abstracted figurative tradition also suggests his notion about the lack of individuality in the modern world and the existential anxieties of living in the post-war climate.

Concurrently on display is “Henry Moore: Master Printmaker.” This exhibition displays 24 master prints given to Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park by Lillian Heidenberg, one of Moore’s primary gallerists.

Both Chadwick and Moore were draftsmen early in their careers. Chadwick worked as an architectural draftsman before transitioning into sculpture, while Moore used etchings and lithographs to explore many of his major sculptural themes. Inspired by Moore, Chadwick maintained a lifelong commitment to the figure; however, Chadwick’s forms were mostly linear and planar rather than the rounded and organic forms of Moore.

Both exhibitions are open to the public October 9, 2009 through January 3, 2010.

“British sculpture factors prominently in our permanent collection which, in addition to bronzes by Moore and Chadwick, features magnificent examples by Hepworth, Nash, Frink, Gormley, Woodrow, Flanagan, and Goldsworthy among others,” said Becherer, “making both the Chadwick and Moore exhibition even more rewarding to our guests.”

Lynn Chadwick
One of several talented British sculptors who burst upon the international art scene in the late 1950s, Lynn Chadwick (1914-2003) frequently used geometric forms in describing human and animal figures. Chadwick’s abstract imagery and figurative tradition developed over the course of four decades. Chadwick studied at the Merchant Taylors School and began his career as an architectural draftsman. After serving in World War II, he began designing furniture, textiles, and architectural projects. In the late 1940s, the artist began creating mobiles, similar but very independent of those created by Alexander Calder. Chadwick moved away from kinetic elements in his repertoire, and continued to create works in welded iron and bronze. His abstracted human figures, animals, birds and imaginary represent some of the most important conceptual frameworks of 20th century art – Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, and Existentialism.

Chadwick achieved international success in 1956 when he won the International Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale. In 1962, he was invited to carry out an open-air sculpture project for the Festival dei Due Monde with Alexander Calder and David Smith. Chadwick received the Carborundum Company’s Sculpture Major and Minor Awards to produce Manchester Sun for the Williamson Building for Life Sciences at the University of Manchester in 1963. He later opened his own foundry in Lypiatt Park.

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park | Lynn Chadwick | Joseph Becherer | Henry Moore |

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