In the 1960s, British sculpture enjoyed a complex transitional life, taking on a new, bold, and increasingly internationalized profile, at the very same time that its forms and meanings were being challenged and contested. Both in Britain and beyond its shores, sculpture experienced substantial reorientation at the same time as it developed a rich and complicated “import” and “export” life, conceptually, commercially, and curatorially. When “Sculpture” was “British” and “Abroad”, its “abroad-ness” was not always so explicitly visible, since its forms and concerns frequently chimed with sensibilities and approaches that were emerging elsewhere too, whether they were figurative or abstract, Constructivist or Pop. At the same time, when sculpture was being displayed in Britain, whether in terms of groups, schools, and/or recent tendencies, it was increasingly described as “British Sculpture”. Visual evidence of foreign impact and exchange gradually emerged at the same time as this national and generational trope became a cultural identifier on a broader cultural landscape.


Postwar debates around figuration and abstraction were central to these complicated sculptural developments. The 1960s saw a younger generation of inquisitive artists, born during the interwar years and coming through London art schools, especially Saint Martin’s School of Art, which were themselves undergoing significant art educational and curricular change. Young artists were looking increasingly not just immediately outside Britain but also beyond Europe for inspiration. There was an increased availability of travel grants, at the same time that British-born artists were enjoying the company of international art students coming from abroad. They devoured art publications, new art writing, exhibition reviews, photography, and ways of seeing and thinking about sculpture, at a time when the work of more established figures of British sculpture was being presented alongside foreign examples, as in the Open Air Sculpture Exhibition of Contemporary British and American Works in Battersea Park in 1963.1 Younger artists were also relishing the new kinds of art and artists coming into this country, often encountered in the small number of commercial galleries in London, such as Signals Gallery (established in 1964) and Kasmin Gallery (established in 1963). These galleries showed work by South American and North American-born artists respectively, alongside that of British-born and London-based artists. Signals, established by David Medalla and Paul Keeler, for example, showed works by many artists, including Lygia Clark and Liliane Lijn.2 This new work was often abstract and kinetic. It engaged its viewers either directly, by actively inviting their manual participation, or by harnessing their imaginations with optically puzzling works.


Sculpture Exhibitions


The power of the commercial gallery emerged with significance in this decade. The Rowan Gallery in London, for instance (established 1962), run by Alex Gregory-Hood and Diana (“Wonky”) Kingsmill, was dedicated to the support and championing of works by a younger generation of British-based sculptors including Phillip King, William Tucker, Isaac Witkin, Garth Evans, and Barry Flanagan—artists who were making work alongside Anthony Caro and others at Saint Martin’s School of Art, and who were highly in tune with the lives abstract sculpture was leading beyond Britain, as much as inside it.3 The promotion of these artists abroad was striking too. In his review of 1960s art, Bryan Robertson gives a vivid sense of the hands-on support at stake as well as the importance attached to sculpture’s increasing promotional circulation through photography, recalling:

Barry Flanagan was represented in the Biennale des Jeunes in Paris in 1967 by a large soft, coloured sculpture stuffed with sand. When Flanagan arrived in Paris to set the work up, just before the official opening, the promised sand, to the artist’s precise specification, was not there and an unsuitable variety of sand had been delivered on site. Flanagan was under pressure, aggravated by the fact that his wife was expecting a child back in London, and he scrapped the sculpture, substituting another work. In London, Alex [Gregory-Hood] was incensed: the sand sculpture, after all, was reproduced in the catalogue as an official entry. He rang round Europe to find the correct sand and he and Wonky flew to Paris, made their way to the exhibition space, personally shovelled the offending incorrect sand away and painstakingly filled the large sculpture with the sand they had procured.4

Under the directorship of Robertson, the Whitechapel Art Gallery played an important role in these years, helping in turn to mediate the transit and display of sculpture between studio, gallery, and collection. As its director between 1952 and 1968, Robertson had overseen the series of influential “New Generation” exhibitions of painting and sculpture and through them had done much to promote and secure a generational identity for abstract sculpture in this country and also abroad, especially for the sculptors closely associated with Saint Martin’s School of Art, including the work of Caro, King, Tucker, Tim Scott, David Annesley, Michael Bolus, and Witkin. Such developments were lent financial support by non-British sponsors too, including the Peter Stuyvesant Foundation, which supported several exhibitions at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in these years. Peter Stuyvesant was the last Dutch Director General of the colony of New Netherland, until it was ceded to the English in 1664, after which it was renamed as New York, and the year 1964 marked the 300th anniversary of this historic moment. The associative poetry of this was not lost, despite Peter Stuyvesant being a South African cigarette manufacturer.


The transatlantic symbolism of the Stuyvesant Foundation’s role is striking and it supports an idea of British sculpture in the 1960s that was dependent upon the triumph and consolidation of Anglo-American cultural relations. The crucial impact of Clement Greenberg’s art critical support of Caro’s sculpture, and the exchanges not only between them but also between them and the American sculptor David Smith at Bolton Landing on Lake George in New York state, and also other Saint Martin’s sculptors, such as Phillip King who visited him there in 1964, cannot be underestimated. The younger artistic rejection of Henry Moore’s work, and what was seen as its monolithic compositions, its outmoded figuration and genres, and its use of the pedestal, was a complementary part of its new and generational endeavour and achievement. Nevertheless, the story of “British Sculpture Abroad” in the 1960s is much more than this particular Anglo-American case study, and this short introduction aims to highlight some of the alternative ways in which this interesting decade for sculpture outside Britain can be understood today, looking in particular to the potent, exciting, and transitional mid-decade moment between 1963 and 1966.


The 1960s was a very lively and changing decade not just for sculpture, but for modern art more generally, as it witnessed the emergence, consolidation, and coexistence of a variety of artistic tendencies and approaches, including Constructivism, Pop, Op, abstraction, conceptualism, and environmental art, and the rise of the incorporation of photography, film, and performance in art—and as art. Viewed schematically and in terms of successions of coinciding and often competing artistic tendencies, the 1960s can be (and has been) viewed as a decade that began with a wide preoccupation with Constructivism and systems art, that witnessed during the mid-decade years the international recognition and transatlantic success of Caro, King, and other sculptors from Saint Martin’s (many of whom were born outside Britain), and that ended with a greater interest in conceptualism, land art, and performance. The idea of sculpture was changing in a decade that itself both started and ended in change. These artistic changes made a real impact, and in the 1970s decade that followed a significant number of British-born sculptors left Britain for abroad, many for North America and Canada, including Tucker, Evans, Brian Wall, and Peter Hide. These were some of the artists who had done much to shape an identity for contemporary sculpture in the 1960s, both as tutors and as exhibiting artists, and whose work was beginning to be seen beyond the gallery setting in large, outdoor group exhibitions such as Sculpture in a City (Birmingham, Liverpool, Southampton, 1967) and New British Sculpture/Bristol (1968).


An exhibition history of new tendencies in sculpture over this ten-year period gives a good indication of this and also shows how these gradual shifts were played out on an increasingly international stage. It also highlights the moments of overlap and shared concerns active at the time. In 1960, Victor Pasmore represented Britain at the Venice Biennale, and the next few years saw works by British Constructivist artists included in a number of group exhibitions, including: Konkrete Kunst (Zurich, 1960), Experiment in Fläche und Raum (Zurich, 1962), Experiment in Constructie (Amsterdam, 1962), and Kompas 2 (Eindhoven, 1962) as well as in the dedicated travelling exhibition British Constructivist Art, which was organized by the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) and which toured the United States in 1962. The rethinking of an idea of “Britishness” was related to these artists’ allegiances to Europe, and more broadly to an internationalism that looked both east and west. In the work and attitudes of Constructivist artists such as Kenneth and Mary Martin, Pasmore, Anthony Hill, Gillian Wise (later Wise-Ciobotaru), and the Paris-based artist Stephen Gilbert, we find allegiances and affiliations at once to Russian Constructivism and to the abstract work of the American artist and writer Charles Biederman and new technological developments across the Atlantic. Sam Gathercole in his essay below analyses the impact of British Constructivism on its American audience. He shows how the work of the artists involved was distanced from Russian Constructivism in its presentation by Lawrence Alloway, by virtue of its more intimate, domestic scale. Gathercole argues, however, that its muted reception in the United States, due to a perception of its modest and restrained British nature, misunderstood the ambitions of the Constructivists’ work, which aimed at a complex negotiation of the environment through hand-made, small-scale work, and so was at odds with the expansive tendencies of American art at the time.


British sculpture also played a part in larger manifestations, where such particular artistic affiliations fell away for group effect. In documenta iii (Kassel, 1964), for example, the work of Robert Adams, Kenneth Armitage, Caro, Lynn Chadwick, King, Moore, and Eduardo Paolozzi was included from Britain. It represented a fascinating mixture of figurative and abstract tendencies. By Documenta 4 (Kassel, 1968) things had become more abstract, as Caro and King were joined by Hill, Kenneth Martin, Michael Sandle, and Tucker. British artists were showcased in Primary Structures at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1966. Caro himself had work included in the exhibition American Sculpture of the Sixties at the Los Angeles County Museum in 1967, dominated by American artists, and at this time several New York galleries were showing British 1960s sculpture. Richard Feigen showed William Tucker in 1965 and Phillip King in 1966; Robert Elkon showed Isaac Witkin in 1966; Kornblee showed Michael Bolus in 1966; Poindexter showed David Annesley in 1966, and then Lawrence Rubin showed Tim Scott in 1971. The kind of works that was being taken up commercially were bold, well-made, colourful abstract sculptures, free-standing in welded steel or fibre-glass, some large but often on a small scale. In keeping with this, John J. Curley’s essay below focuses on the transatlantic, Anglo-American hybridization of sculpture in the 1960s, through the exhibition Primary Structures and the work of Caro and the sculptural work of the British Pop artists Gerald Laing and Peter Phillips. Curley considers the ways in which the dialogue between British and American art led to the questioning of medial boundaries and the relationships between found objects and images and processes of making. In particular, Laing and Phillips’s Hybrid (1965–66) encapsulates for Curley a kind of “fleeting transatlantic consensus” for 1960s sculpture. His essay ends, significantly, with Caro’s small, transportable table sculptures, able to move with ease between the two cultural contexts.

1969, showing clockwise from left: Mario Merz, <i>Appoggiati</i>, 1969, Mario Merz, <i>Sit-in</i>, 1968, Richard Artschwager, <i>Blp</i>, 1968, Robert Morris, <i>Felt</i>, 1967, Bruce Nauman, <i>Neon Templates of the Left Half of My Body Taken at Ten Inch Intervals</i>, 1966, Bruce Nauman, <i>Untitled</i>, 1965, Bruce Nauman, <i>Collection of Various Flexible Materials Separated by Layers of Grease with Holes the Size of My Waist and Wrists</i>, 1966, Barry Flanigan, <i>Two Space Rope Sculpture</i>, 1967, Alighiero Boetti, <i>lo che prendo il sole a Torino il 19 gennaio 1969</i>, 1969

Figure 1.
Harry Shunk, Installation View, Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form, 1969, showing clockwise from left: Mario Merz, Appoggiati, 1969, Mario Merz, Sit-in, 1968, Richard Artschwager, Blp, 1968, Robert Morris, Felt, 1967, Bruce Nauman, Neon Templates of the Left Half of My Body Taken at Ten Inch Intervals, 1966, Bruce Nauman, Untitled, 1965, Bruce Nauman, Collection of Various Flexible Materials Separated by Layers of Grease with Holes the Size of My Waist and Wrists, 1966, Barry Flanigan, Two Space Rope Sculpture, 1967, Alighiero Boetti, lo che prendo il sole a Torino il 19 gennaio 1969, 1969

Digital image courtesy of Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2011.M.30(Series IV.A, Attitudes, Shunk)) / Photo: Harry Shunk

The 1960s would also witness exhibitions that promoted the work of British artists in the context of more international, conceptual, and ideas-based practices, such as Harald Szeemann’s When Attitudes Become Form (Bern and London, 1969), which included work by Barry Flanagan and Bruce McLean; Op Losse Schroeven (“Square pegs in round holes”) (Amsterdam, 1969), which included works by former Saint Martin’s students Flanagan, McLean, Richard Long, and Roelof Louw; Land Art, Fernsehgalerie (Berlin, 1969), Gerry Schum’s art films for TV project which saw Flanagan making a hole in the sea in Scheveningen in February that year; and in the US Earth Art (Cornell University, Ithaca, 1969), which included the work of Long and Medalla). Holland and northern Germany were parts of Europe that were highly sympathetic to both conceptualism and abstract sculpture. Konrad Lueg, to become Konrad Fischer, based in Dusseldorf, was particularly influential, giving Richard Long his first one-person show in 1968, an exhibition which was followed in 1969 by five more exhibitions for this artist, all outside Britain, before his exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1971.


The Generational Life of Sculpture


Late 1950s and early 1960s reactions to the postwar sculptural example are well accounted for in the secondary literature on “British Sculpture”. The art historian and curator Lynne Cooke, for example, has highlighted this: “Towards the end of the 1950s British sculpture was widely vaunted, not least by native critics, as the most flourishing school in the world.”5 However looking ahead, she quotes Phillip King’s response to documenta ii which took place at the end of that decade in 1959:

The sculpture was terribly dominated by a post-war feeling which seemed very distorted and contorted . . . And it was somehow terribly like scratching your own wounds—an international style with everyone sharing the same neuroses.6

There was clearly a widespread shaking off of the postwar sculptural legacy. The shift in sculptural mood between these decades is striking; a shift at once in attitude, sensibility, and materials, although it was also, in retrospect, a period of subtle continuation and development as much as of rupture. King, who was fluent in French and steeped in the sculpture of Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, and Constantin Brancusi, was an interesting figure in this transitional moment, making work that bridged figuration and abstraction, and that changed the mood of sculpture from figurative existential anxiety to robust and upbeat formal experimentation, from geometries of fear to geometries of liberation.


The public recognition of art and artists had increasingly national, European, and international dimensions, with different generations of artists experiencing attention and appreciation simultaneously. As each decade introduces the public to new work, so it can also see the further celebration and consolidation of the work and achievements abroad of more familiar names.7 This is well-demonstrated in the 1960s, as we witness different generations of British sculptors experiencing levels of success at the same time. It was also a decade of generational coinciding for sculptors, as much as generational succession, through which their work occupied the same historical moment: the mid-1960s is a particularly rich period for this. For example, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth turned sixty-five and sixty respectively in 1963, whilst the mid-1960s saw Kenneth Armitage enter his fifties, Eduardo Paolozzi his forties and St Martin’s sculptors Garth Evans, Tim Scott, and Bill Tucker their thirties. Arie Hartog’s essay in this issue points to the prominence enjoyed in the United States in the 1950s and early 1960s by Reg Butler, whose first retrospective in 1963 was held at an American museum. Hartog shows how an understanding of the work of Butler and other British sculptors, like Chadwick and Armitage, served as a crucial foil in Greenberg’s promotion of a specifically American tradition (via the work of David Smith). Reconsidering the role of Butler’s work in the US dirimg this period and of his crucial supporter, the curator Addison Franklin Page, enables us to complicate and broaden our views of a 1960s sculptural discourse dominated by Greenberg, and to re-engage with debates around sculpture’s symbolic content, the role of figuration, and the potential of sculpture to communicate with a wide public.


The promotion of different generations of sculptors owes much to the work of the British Council, whuch often showed not only older and younger artists together, but also those working in different idioms. It also owed much to the Contemporary Art Society, and the work of Pauline Vogelpoel (who worked at the CAS between 1954 and 1982) and her colleagues. As Margaret Garlake’s study of the São Paulo biennales in these years highlights, much was achieved for British sculpture through the work of British commissioner Liliane Somerville and committees that during these years included Alan Bowness, Sir Philip Hendy, Sir Herbert Read, Sir John Rothenstein, Roland Penrose, J. M. Richards, David Thompson, and Norman Reid.8 The sculptors included in presentations at Venice and São Paulo in the 1960s give some insight into this. In the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, Victor Pasmore, Eduardo Paolozzi, and Geoffrey Clarke were included in 1960; Robert Adams and Hubert Dalwood in 1962; Bernard Meadows and Joe Tilson in 1964; Anthony Caro and Richard Smith in 1966; and Phillip King in 1968: the “Ways of Contemporary Research” that year included Caro, Paolozzi, and Pasmore.9 Again we find an interesting mixture of artists, styles, and approaches to sculpture. There was a blend of figuration and abstract and figurative approaches, and a greater continuity between sculptural sensibilities than we might today expect. Sculpture was presented in tandem: in the São Paolo Bienal, Chadwick was shown in 1961; Paolozzi in 1963. The year 1965 also saw a touring exhibition in India: Nine Living British Sculptors (1965–66), co-organized by the Lalit Kala Akademi and the British Council, included over thirty works (sculptures, drawings, and prints) by Adams, Armitage, Chadwick, Dalwood, Hepworth, Meadows, Moore, and Paolozzi.10 If the image of contemporary British sculpture that was touring the world seems out of step with currents back at home, it highlights the fact that versions of the contemporary were circulating in tandem. The list of sculptors, for example, who were included in the British Council’s Sculpture Anglaise Contemporaine that visited Toulouse and Lille towards the end of this decade in 1968 makes interesting reading, made up of the same names, but this time minus Moore: Adams, Armitage, Chadwick, Dalwood, Hepworth, Meadows, and Paolozzi.11


As the 1960s went on, Moore became less of a sculptural bearing or point of reference for other younger British artists, abroad as much as at home, as survey or group shows dedicated to British sculpture lost their “since Moore” tag. Nevertheless, as Moore’s mid-1960s saw him enter his own mid-sixties, he was still a significant presence internationally outside these British Council manifestations, and his work was increasingly in demand. Marble as much as bronze was Moore’s material of choice at this time. If marble (as opposed to other kinds of stone) strongly evoked a Graeco-Roman classicism, it was also a particular 1960s classicism. Marble had a “coolness” then, both literally and materially. For Moore it was Italy and the Carrara quarries that drew him, prompting him to buy a house at Forte dei Marmi on the coast nearby in 1965. Moore’s marble sculpture aimed to talk to an internationalist ethos and a universalizing modernist spirit while also chiming with a more immediate and geographically and culturally resonant Italian environment. He kept different materials in use at this time. His bronze Reclining Figure (commissioned in 1962) was installed outside the Lincoln Center in New York in 1965. His Three Piece Reclining Figure: Bridge Prop (1963) was shown alongside works by Auguste Rodin, Aristide Maillol, Brancusi and Picasso at Sonsbeek ’66, the fifth International Sculpture Exhibition in Arnheim, in the early summer of 1966. The mid-1960s for Moore was a significant moment of publication too, seeing the artist’s views widely disseminated in print. Philip James, Art Director of the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts (CEMA) and then (post-1945) of the Arts Council of Great Britain until 1958, was the editor of Henry Moore on Sculpture (1966), a collection of Moore’s writings that spread the word about Moore’s work as much as it inspired his detractors.12


During the later 1960s, both Moore and his work experienced particular criticism from younger conceptual artists, often made within their own art works. In the United States, Bruce Nauman made works such as Henry Moore Bound to Fail (1967/70), Seated Storage Capsule (for H.M.) (1966), and a series of graphic and photographic “trap” works, which curiously relate to photographs by Gjon Mili, including Henry Moore Trap (1966), and Light Trap for Henry Moore, numbers one and two (1967).13  In Britain, twenty-five-year-old Bruce McLean made Fallen Warrior (1969), Waiter Waiter There’s a Sculpture in My Soup (1970), and Reclining Nude Fully Draped (1969). In the work of both artists we find a shared criticism of the ubiquity and overexposure of Moore’s work at that time, and in 1967 there was also a controversy surrounding the proposal to build a Moore Gallery at the Tate. The late 1960s thus saw considerable public attention to the staging, binding, and framing of Moore’s work in ways that a younger generation reacted to. Moore, we should recall, was seventy years of age in 1968, and so very much the older establishment artist for these two artists in their twenties. In Nauman’s works, “Moore” means “a work by Moore”, indicating a synonymous relationship between the man and the work, which is both a measure of his success and celebrity and of the personal directness of his statement.


Barbara Hepworth saw her Single Form (1962–63) unveiled at the United Nations Plaza in New York in 1964. But if Hepworth and Moore were beginning to be seen as representatives of a senior generation whose work talked to an earlier postwar moment, the mid-1960s were also challenging for sculptors who had enjoyed initial success in the 1950s in their slipstream, such as those who came to the public eye in 1952 in the New Aspects of British Sculpture exhibition in the British Pavilion of the XXVI Venice Biennale. Of this group, Paolozzi had widespread international attention in the 1960s. Represented by Betty Parsons Gallery in New York and the Robert Fraser Gallery in London, the attention Paolozzi’s work was receiving in North America was matched in the second half of the 1960s by his reception in West Germany. The year 1968 saw large exhibitions at the Galerie Neuendorf in Hamburg, and between 1968 and 1969 exhibitions of his sculpture and works on paper were held at the Stadtische Kunsthalle in Düsseldorf and the Württembergischer Kunstverein in Stuttgart.


Circles of Recognition


If Paolozzi was more than anything else a “British sculptor abroad” in these years, then the same can be said especially of Kenneth Armitage, who turned fifty years of age in 1965, and who of all the “Geometry of Fear” sculptors was seen as Moore’s natural successor as a Leeds College of Art-educated artist. The artist who featured in Bryan Robertson, John Russell, and Lord Snowden’s 1965 book, Private View, was a London-based celebrity sculptor.14 We see him standing, in plaster-covered overalls, working in his studio on Pandarus (Version 4) (1963) in a black-and-white double-page spread within a set of sculptor pages in the book that also feature Paolozzi, Turnbull, Butler, Elisabeth Frink, Meadows, Chadwick, F. E. McWilliam, and Adams.15 But by this time Armitage’s artistic celebrity was European and international as well as national, and looking back today over his biography, it is extraordinary how much he had achieved outside Britain by the mid-1960s, by the time he was fifty. By this point, Armitage had seen his work enter public collections in many major European cities, including those in Paris, Brussels, Antwerp, Rome, Turin, Lugano, Hamburg, Wuppertal, and Duisburg, and had seen his sculpture and drawings included in exhibitions such as the International Open Air Sculpture exhibition at Sonsbeek (1953), documenta i and documenta ii in Kassel (1955 and 1959), and several solo exhibitions, including those in Ulm, Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Stockholm, Zurich, Zagreb, Duisburg, Berlin, and Nuremberg. German art museums were particularly responsive to his work, and this was furthered by Armitage’s successful proposal for the “International War Memorial Competition” in Krefeld in 1956, and later through his Berlin Fellowship (1967–69). Soon he would be using the services of Hermann Noack Foundry in Berlin, used by Moore also, for the production of his bronze and aluminium sculpture. The British Council played an important role here, giving Armitage twelve exhibitions in the 1960s, of which five were part of an ambitious touring show of his work across Austria in 1962, stopping at Linz, Graz, Salzburg, Klagenfurt, and Vienna. Having works made in the same continent in which they were displayed made economic sense, and shows another area in which British sculpture had a crucial practical European dimension.


It is striking that the first small monograph on Armitage (to which Penrose contributed) was published in Germany in 1960, in a series featuring other European artists (a number of whom are relatively little known today) such as Karl Hosch, Giacomo Manzù, Bruno Saetti, A. H. Pellegrini, Giuseppe Santomaso, Alicia Penalba, César, and Lynn Chadwick, the only other British artist in this series.16 The same year he would feature in Robert Maillard’s Dictionnaire de la sculpture moderne, nicely sandwiched between Alexander Archipenko and Hans Arp, and in the company of twenty-two other British sculptors including Frink and Leslie Thornton.17 Armitage’s pan-European success was also accompanied by increasingly international recognition. This broader profile was a growing one, as John McEwen underlines on the occasion of Armitage’s Yorkshire Sculpture Park exhibition in 1996, stating, not without a note of poignancy, that “Armitage today is probably more revered in places as far flung as Caracas, Brasilia, Sidney and Tokyo than he is at home. But through the 1950s and into the 1960s the same applied here.”18 The 1950s and 1960s witnessed not only solo exhibitions at Bertha Schaefer (between 1954 and 1956) and Paul Rosenberg (in 1958 and 1962) in New York, but also Armitage’s inclusion in Peter Selz’s New Images of Man exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1959.19 They also saw him in the 1957 São Paolo Bienal and in the International Sculpture Exhibition in Buenos Aires in 1960. The 1960s would end for Armitage with him being awarded a CBE in, bringing both appreciation and the end of a chapter in a highly prolific career as a sculptor, as younger generations come to the fore.


McEwan’s poignant words have a resonance more generally here for artists whose sculptures were displayed outside Britain in the 1960s. It was a decade in which British sculpture abroad was active on many different levels simultaneously, and with variously widening and decreasing circles of recognition and acclaim, as reputations faded in and out of focus, rising and falling on the national and international stage. Looking at this decade in more detail and honing in on less familiar moments and case studies will enable us to look at it afresh, and help us to complicate some of our assumptions and expectations about sculpture, both abroad and also in Britain during this period.

About the author

  • Head and shoulders portrait of Jon Wood

    Jon Wood is Research Curator at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, where he coordinates the academic research programme and curates exhibitions, and co-editor of the Sculpture Journal. He specialises in modern and contemporary sculpture, with a particular research interest in the artist's studio. His studio writings have been recently reprinted in The Fall of the Studio (Valiz, 2009), The Studio Reader (University of Chicago Press, 2010) and The Studio (MIT/Whitechapel, 2012). Publications include The Sculpture of Bill Woodrow (with Julia Kelly) (2013), Modern Sculpture Reader (with Alex Potts and David Hulks) (HMI 2007, and Getty 2012), a new edition of H.S. Ede's Savage Messiah (with Sebastiano Barassi and Evelyn Silber) (2011) and Articulate Objects: Voice, Sculpture, and Performance (with Satz) (2009) and exhibition catalogues 1913: The Shape of Time (HMI, 2012–13) and United Enemies: The Problem of Sculpture in Britain in the 1960s and 1970s (HMI, 2011–12).


  1. Sculpture in the Open Air, London County Council Exhibition at Battersea Park, May–September 1963: “The American exhibits have been chosen by the Museum of Modern Art in New York and they can be accepted as representatives of the great achievements of contemporary American sculptors” (exh. cat.). They included: Harry Bertoia, Alexander Calder, John Chamberlain, Herbert Ferber, Joseph Goto, Dimitri Hadzi, Raoul Hague, Seymour Lipton, Reuben Nakian, George Rickey, José de Rivera, James Rosati, Julius Schmidt, Jason Seley, David Smith, Richard Stankiewicz, and Peter Voulkos.

  2. Others represented included: Takis, Sergio Camargo, Li Yuan-Chia, Soto, Alejandro Otero, and Antonio Calderara, amongst others.

  3. See Bryan Robertson, “The Sixties”, in Twenty Five Years Annely Juda Fine Art/Juda Rowan Gallery: Masterpieces of the Avantgarde: Three Decades of Contemporary Art (London: Annely Juda Fine Art/Juda Rowan Gallery, 1985), 179–90.

  4. Robertson, “The Sixties”, 189.

  5. Lynne Cooke, “New Abstract Sculpture and its Sources”, in British Sculpture in the Twentieth Century, ed. Sandy Nairne and Nicholas Serota (London: Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1981), 167.

  6. Cooke, “New Abstract Sculpture and its Sources”, 167, note 2 (originally cited in C. Harrison, “Phillip King: Sculpture 1960–1968”, Artforum 7, no. 4 [Dec. 1968]: 33).

  7. Alan Bowness, The Conditions of Success: How the Modern Artist Rises to Fame (London: Thames & Hudson, 1989), 11. Bowness’s text is a useful way of thinking about such change. In this essay he outlined what he called the “four successive circles of recognition through which the exceptional artist passes on his path to fame. . . . peer recognition, critical recognition, patronage by dealers and collectors, and finally public acclaim.”

  8. Margaret Garlake, Britain and the São Paulo Bienal, 1951–1991 (London: British Council, 1991).

  9. Bowness, Conditions of Success, 110–19.

  10. See (accessed 12 June 16).

  11. See

  12. Philip James, ed., Henry Moore on Sculpture (London: MacDonald, 1966).

  13. See Robert Slifkin, “Now Man's Bound to Fail, More”, in Anglo–American Exchange in Postwar Sculpture, 1945–1975, (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2011),

  14. Bryan Robertson, John Russell, and Lord Snowden, Private View (London: Nelson, 1965), 94–95.

  15. Robertson, Russell, and Snowden, Private View, 78–99.

  16. The “Artists of Our Time” series was published by Bodensee-Verlag, Amriswil. The 1973 Alecto Monograph, in which Charles Spencer’s text appeared, was also published abroad, in this case in Italy.

  17. English version: Robert Maillard, A Dictionary of Modern Sculpture (London: Methuen, 1962), 9–10. Armitage’s entry was by Michael Middleton and emphasizes the humanist message of his sculpture. The other British sculptors included in Maillard’s book were: Robert Adams, Kenneth Armitage, Reg Butler, Anthony Caro, Lynn Chadwick, Geoffrey Clarke, Robert Clatworthy, Hubert Dalwood, Jacob Epstein, Walter Gilbert, Eric Gill, Barbara Hepworth, F. E. McWilliam, Kenneth Martin, Bernard Meadows, Henry Moore, Eduardo Paolozzi, Victor Pasmore, William Turnbull, Leon Underwood, and Austin Wright.

  18. John McEwen, “Kenneth Armitage”, Kenneth Armitage: 80th Birthday Survey (Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 1996), 4.

  19. Peter Selz’s subsequent Art of Assemblage (Oct.–Nov. 1961) included John Latham’s Shem (1958), which was subsequently acquired by Museum of Modern Art in New York.



Bowness, Alan. The Conditions of Success: How the Modern Artist Rises to Fame. London: Thames & Hudson, 1989.

Cooke, Lynne. “New Abstract Sculpture and its Sources.” In British Sculpture in the Twentieth Century. Ed. Sandy Nairne and Nicholas Serota. London: Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1981.

Garlake, Margaret. Britain and the São Paulo Bienal, 1951–1991. London: British Council, 1991.

James, Philip. ed. Henry Moore on Sculpture. London: MacDonald, 1966.

Maillard, Robert. A Dictionary of Modern Sculpture. London: Methuen, 1962.

McEwen, John. “Kenneth Armitage.” In Kenneth Armitage: 80th Birthday Survey. Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 1996.

Robertson, Bryan. “The Sixties.” In Twenty Five Years Annely Juda Fine Art/Juda Rowan Gallery: Masterpieces of the Avantgarde: Three Decades of Contemporary Art. London: Annely Juda Fine Art/Juda Rowan Gallery, 1985, 179–90.

Robertson, Bryan, John Russell, and Lord Snowden. Private View. London: Nelson, 1965.


Jon Wood
18 July 2016
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Jon Wood, "Introduction to British Sculpture Abroad in the 1960s", British Art Studies, Issue 3,