Defining Modernism at ArtMiami 2013
Anthony Japour looks at the work of Henry Moore & Lynn Chadwick
Among art-world insiders who see a Christopher Wool work auction for over $20 million and a Zeng Fanzhi work for over $23 million something is not right; important works by the Modern Masters seem “undervalued” by comparison. And so it is, here at ArtMiami 2013 where visitors are greeted at the entrance of both fairs by Henry Moore and Lynn Chadwick, who, along with Jean Dubuffet and other artists of their time, define the Modernist movement of the 20th Century.
Henry Moore, Spindle Piece, 1968
Bronze, 33 x 27 x 27 inches
Courtesy of Osborne Samuel at Art Miami
Henry Moore was a British sculptor and draughtsman best known for his semi-abstract and figurative bronze sculptures.
After completing military service in World War I, Henry Moore studied at Leeds School of Art and the Royal College of Art in London and later taught at the Royal College of Art in London and the Chelsea School of Art. As an official war artist, Moore focused on charcoal drawings of people huddled inside bomb shelters during the London Blitz. In 1946, Moore was honored with his first major retrospective in the U.S. at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and two years later won the International Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale of 1948.
Moore's visual language draws heavily on the human body, singly in reclining women and in groups of recurring motifs of mother-and-child and family groups. Hollow shapes figure prominently in the works. Moore used a variety of materials-bronze, stone, and wood- but always completed the work in a refined manner.
One of the bronzes on view at ArtMiami 2013 was Spindle Piece, 1968 and was based on a visit Moore made to the Vatican forty years earlier the realization of the work. Moore was apparently taken by Michelangelo’s depiction of God Creating Man, where the fingers touch. The Spindle series is the sculptural result of his mulling this theme over the years. “Sculpturally, it’s just two pints about to meet. This work is on the same theme, only the two fingers are going out, not in”, said Henry Moore.
In the United States, Henry Moore’s most known work is a monumental sculpture outside at the entrance of the East Wing of the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. The work, known as Knife Edge Mirror Two Piece was installed in 1978. Moore was ultimately selected over Jean Dubuffet for the outdoor art installation work at the East Wing of the National Gallery; Dubuffet’s Welcome Parade (1974-2008) originally conceived for the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art was eventually realized in 2008 in New York City.
Henry Moore, "Reclining Figure with Circle", 1983
Bronze, 17" x 35" x 13", Edition 3/9
Credit: Courtesy of Scott White Contemporary Art at Art Miami
Lynn Chadwick, Sitting Woman in Robes IV, 1987 Bronze, Edition of 9, 91 x 91 x 94 cm
Courtesy of Osborne Samuel at Art Miami
Lynn Chadwick, originally trained as a draughtsman in architecture and with skills as a welder was said to be regarded as the successor of Henry Moore.
Chadwick worked in the British Military in the Fleet Air Arm (1941-1944) and after the war joined a private architecture firm. While I have not catalogued all of the artists of the 20th century who served in a military, it seems to me military service may be a good pathway to becoming an important artist.
While Chadwick began his work experimenting with mobiles inspired likely by Alexander Calder, he ultimately became recognized for his figurative bronze sculptural works. It was not until Chadwick was almost 40 years old, that he first came to prominence when in 1953 he was a finalist in the Unknown Political Prisoner International Sculpture Competition.
Lynn Chadwick, Maquette for Oscar, 1963
Bronze, 9.75 x 6.5 x 4.5 in
Courtesy of Waterhouse & Dodd Gallery
New York | London
Lynn Chadwick, Boy and Girl, 1959
Bronze, Edition of 3 castings, plus one artist’s cast
Signed and numbered: 3/3 Chadwick, 27 ˝ in. high
Courtesy of Isabelle Stevenson, Private Collection
Chadwick spent considerable time determining what he called the “attitude” of the work. “the way that you can make something almost 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, where if they’re, well, I suppose that’s saying something, too.”
Chadwick also added movement in his stationary works—Cloaked figures are often walking arm-in-arm as if rushing to an elegant symphonic or operatic event. It seems, the artist had a thing for fashion, too, as the characters dramatized are often wearing regal cloaks with the wind floating behind them. Chadwick was clearly interested in geometric forms as he returned to the triangle face and other geometric forms repeatedly in his work.
Interestingly, I saw a pair of works (not at ArtMiami Art Fair) by Lynn Chadwick and was quoted a price of $950,000! Compared to a Christopher Wool or a Zeng Fanzhi, this price might sound cheap. Thinking the price high for Chadwick’s market, I researched Chadwick’s auction record on one of the databases. The public auction record revealed only one lot by Chadwick that has brought anywhere near the $900,000 mark. In doing so, I ran across the exact work (by citation) that was priced at $950,000 and it was sold at auction in November 2013 for under $300,000. A 300% increase in less than a month?- and the work was sold, I was told. Reminding me— once more—why the role of art advisor is gaining importance in the art world!