Lynn Chadwick (1914-2003) was part of the post-WWII generation of British sculptors known for their dramatic, welded iron and cast bronze works that combined often-figurative subjects with expressionistic abstraction.
This ad-hoc group gained a collective identity after their work was displayed together at the 1952 Venice Biennale in an exhibition called New Aspects of British Sculpture. In the catalogue that accompanied the exhibition, the critic Herbert Read described the artists’ work as reflective of the violent horrors of war and the new atomic age. He wrote:
These new images belong to the iconography of despair, or of defiance… Here are images of flight, or ragged claws ‘scuttling across the floors of silent seas’, of excoriated flesh, frustrated sex, the geometry of fear.
“The Geometry of Fear” would become the label that stuck with Chadwick for many years to come, coloring the reception of even his late works with the anxieties of the immediate post-war era.
In fact, Chadwick asserted that his work was far more intuitive than simple expressions of political realities would allow for. His process was akin to “drawing in space,” using steel rods to build frameworks of juxtaposed polyhedrons and improvising until he reached a form that satisfied him. Next he would fill in his construction of welded joints with an industrial product called Stolit—a mixture of iron shavings and plaster that could be smoothed, scored, or left with a roughly textured finish. In his later work, Chadwick used these initial structures as casts for bronze sculptures in a wide range of sizes, from monumental figures to tabletop maquettes.
The Berman Museum has the distinction of holding more works by Chadwick in its collection than any other institution in North America—over 140 sculptures, including several monumental works installed on the campus grounds and dozens more mid-size bronzes and maquettes kept at the museum.