Osborne Samuel Gallery

Lynn Chadwick (1914-2003)
Bird IV, 1958
Iron and composition
50 x 60 x 41 cm
Provenance: Cécile de Rothschild, Paris; Robin Katz, London, 2004; Private collection, U.K (purchased from the above, 2010); Osborne Samuel, London
Exhibited: Paris, Galerie Daniel Cordier, Lynn Chadwick: Sculptures, May 1958, n° 9
Literature: D. Farr and E. Chadwick, Lynn Chadwick Sculptor: With a Complete Illustrated Catalogue 1947-2003, Farnham, 2014, p. 163, n° 261, ill.
Description: Two years after Chadwick was awarded the International Sculpture Prize at the Venice Biennale, he created Bird IV, a semi-abstracted winged figure. This piece continues to develop some of the imagery seen in Chadwick’s work of the early 1950s, a period during which Chadwick began to create a menagerie of fantastical beasts. Bird IV is a dystopian creature, captured mid-launch as its beating wings lift its body into the air. It is a being which straddles the divide between the familiar and unfamiliar: with a recognisable form which represents that of a bird, but with the angular armature which is more in line with its prehistoric predecessor. Alan Bowness comments, ‘The tensions arise directly from the sculptor’s treatment of surface. His technique leads him to build an armature, constructed from straight rods, and this becomes the skin as well as the bone of the figure. Everything is thus brought on to the surface, and the network of rigid lines and absence of curves is somehow expressive of a high pitch of nervous intensity, possessed by these strange immobile creatures’ (A. Bowness, Lynn Chadwick: Art in Progress, London, 1962, pages not numbered).

Bird IV exemplifies Chadwick’s ability to render harmony between the theatrical and the technical as he plays with balance, form and movement. The artist utilises the large wings of Bird IV as a tool to balance and ground the sculpture whilst simulating flight as the bird is suspended, frozen in a moment of transformation, moments before the bird leaps into the air and takes flight. Nick Rogers reflects upon this: ‘It is this technical sophistication, innate understanding of balance, both physical and visual, combined with the universal resonating appeal of Chadwick’s animal and human forms that imbue these sculptures with an enduring quality; decidedly modern in approach, yet transmitting a primal energy and presence as old as the hills’ (N. Rogers, exhibition catalogue, ‘Lynn Chadwick: An Evolution’, in L. Chadwick: Evolution in Sculpture, Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House and Abbot Hall Art Gallery, 2013, p. 7)