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To launch Kettle’s Yard’s 50th birthday year we explore the sculptural world of Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. This is the first exhibition to set Gaudier among his European contemporaries and to showcase his contribution to the birth of modern sculpture.
Gaudier’s career as a sculptor was brief. Like many artists of his generation, he was killed in action during World War I, aged just 23. Yet, in the three and a half years in England, before leaving for the trenches, Gaudier created a substantial and truly advanced body of work.
Initially inspired by the sculptures of Auguste Rodin and Post-Impressionist painting, he soon became aware of the latest artistic developments on the continent, above all Cubism, Futurism and Expressionism.
Gaudier was fascinated by the problems of expressing movement, constructing sculptural forms through geometrical planes, carving directly in stone, and reconciling European roots with the impact of non-European sculpture. Such concerns were shared with artists he cited as fellow ‘moderns’ – Brancusi, Modigliani, Epstein and Archipenko – and by others, such as Duchamp-Villon, Laurens, Lipchitz, Matisse and Picasso, as well as the German Expressionists and the Italian Futurists.
Supported by Arts Council England and The Henry Moore Foundation, the exhibition includes major loans from across Europe by all these artists as well as drawing on Kettle’s Yard’s own substantial collection of work by Gaudier.