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Birds Erect, 1914 (posthumous cast, n.d.)

This is Gaudier-Brzeska’s last large-scale sculpture, completed just before he left England to join the French army. It is also his most abstract work; without the aid of the title, it would be difficult to recognise the subject. Gaudier was influenced by contemporary Cubist sculptors, in particular Archipenko and Lipchitz. Unlike painting, which aimed at condensing different perspectives into a single image, Cubist sculpture was concerned primarily with abstracted and boldly geometrical forms.

Despite the solidity and weight of Birds Erect, there is a strong sense of upward movement, suggested by the long rectangular shapes which create a vertical pull. Jim described it as having ‘the vertiginous feeling of birds nested on a cliff’s edge’.

Sculpture [HGB 102]

Displayed

Stone cast

670 x 300 x 260 mm

About the artist

Henri Gaudier was born in St. Jean de Braye, near Orleans, in France. He first came to Britain in 1908. He met Sophie Brzeska while working as a student in the evenings at Ste. Genevieve Library in Paris in 1910. In the same year he left France under a cloud of social hostility and settled in England adding the name Brzeska to his own soon after. He worked in isolation until he met Middleton Murray in 1912, whereafter he built up a circle of artists and intellectuals which included Ezra Pound, Wyndham Lewis and T. E. Hulme. He became involved in Pound's and Lewis' Vorticist group, contributing to the two issues of their magazine Blast. Gaudier was killed in action during the First World War in Belgium.