Frederick Edward McWilliam
Angular Figure, 1962
Signed and numbered '2/5'
Bronze. In an edition of 5.
H: 24 in / 61 cm
L: 35 in / 88.9 cm
McWilliam studied painting and drawing at the Belfast College of Art in Northern Ireland (1928) before specialising in sculpture at the Slade School of Fine Art in London (1928–31). McWilliam...
McWilliam studied painting and drawing at the Belfast College of Art in Northern Ireland (1928) before specialising in sculpture at the Slade School of Fine Art in London (1928–31). McWilliam was one of a number of British sculptors, including Paolozzi and Armitage, who re-imagined the human form in a series of geometric shapes. ‘Angular Figure’ is part of a series of bronze figures that he made in the early 1960s in direct response to Henry Moore’s reclining figures.
After graduating from the Slade, McWilliam was awarded a scholarship which enabled him to travel to Paris where he discovered the work of Brancusi, Giacometti and Arp. Their influence, together with that of his visit to the 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition in London, led him to create his first biomorphic sculptures. By 1937 he was exhibiting with the British Surrealists, employing their rhetoric of illogical juxtapositions to deconstruct and abstract the human form.
The use of the reclining figure after the War marks the influence of Moore, with whom McWilliam had shared a studio. At first McWilliam emulated Moore’s interplay between solid volume and surrounding space. However, in his series of mechanomorphic bronze figures from the 1960s, he deliberately parodied the reclining figures of Moore. In ironic contrast to Moore's weighty, natural forms, he employed geometric shapes.
McWilliam was also influenced by his experience in the Royal Air Force during World War Two. Like Armitage, the imagery of machinery entered into works such as this through geometric blocks of bronze. However, unlike Armitage’s heavier, solid forms, the angular structures of ‘Angular Figure’ recall the engines and turning shafts of aircraft, filling the sculpture with a dynamic, Futurist quality.
Waddington Galleries, London, F.E.
McWilliam, 1963, no.17, illus.
Ulster Museum, Belfast; Douglas Hyde
Gallery, Dublin; Crawford Municipal Gallery, Cork, F.E. McWilliam,
1981, no. 55, p.50 illus.
Tate Gallery, London, F.E. McWilliam: Sculpture 1932-1989,
1989, no.42, illus.
Alec Tiranti Ltd, London 1964, pl.130 & 131 (this cast)