Early Years and Training
Improvisational, abstract sculptor Lynn Chadwick was born in Barnes, west of London, in 1914. He learned architectural design at Merchant Taylors’ School and then was a draftsman in various architectural offices. Visits to the salon of modernist architect Rodney Thomas inspired Chadwick to pursue sculpture.
Sculpting Around World War II
Chadwick’s first attempts were reminiscent of Calder mobiles, with light woods like balsa acting as a counterweight to copper and brass. During the early stages of World War II, Chadwick registered as a conscientious objector. However, he did eventually become a pilot who accompanied military convoys as the Nazi threat intensified. Upon his return to London, Chadwick threw himself into his work with more spirit than ever.
International Artistic Stardom
Instead of starting from preliminary sketches, Chadwick preferred to work without a set plan, allowing materials to dictate process. In addition to mobiles, Chadwick started making small-form sculptures. After a gallery show at Gimpel Fils in London, significant critical attention elevated Chadwick such that the Arts Council of Britain asked him to make a large sculpture for the Festival of Britain in 1951. The result was The Fisheater, which the Tate Gallery exhibited through the following year. Chadwick acted as the British representative for the Venice Biennale in 1952 and 1956, becoming the youngest recipient of the International Sculpture Prize in 1956.
Memorable Abstract Sculpture
As the 1960s began, Chadwick’s work grew larger and more abstract, yet still regularly suggestive of human and animal forms. His first steel sculpture, Two Winged Figures, appeared at an outdoor show in 1962. Chadwick was given the Commander of the Order of the British Empire distinction in 1962, France’s Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1985, and became a Royal Academician of the United Kingdom in 2001. Today Chadwick’s sculptures and mobiles are housed within the collections of important institutions on both sides of the Atlantic: the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the Musée Rodin in Paris, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and many others. In early 2003, Tate Britain staged a major retrospective spanning Chadwick’s entire career not long after his death.Contact a Specialist View all Artists/Makers