Seated armed figure: Personnage Tres Important, 1962
Bronze with dark brown patina
24 3/8 x 14 1/8 x 15 3/4 in, 62 x 36 x 40 cm
After a fairly conventional training in painting at the Norwich School of Art, the major turning point in Meadows’s career came during the mid-1930s when he visited the studio of...
After a fairly conventional training in painting at the Norwich School of Art, the major turning point in Meadows’s career came during the mid-1930s when he visited the studio of Henry Moore in Kent. Following this meeting, Meadows turned his back on painting to work as Moore’s assistant.
During the Second World War he served for the RAF. After the War he returned to his studies at the RCA, where he set up a foundry that was used by his colleague and fellow participant in the Biennale of 1952, Geoffrey Clarke.
For much of the 1950s Meadows sought to distance himself from the overbearing influence of Moore, moving away from the human figure, taking instead crabs and birds as his subject matter. However, as the decade progressed, Meadows found a route back to the human form: following a trip to Florence in 1960 he found inspiration from images of Roman warfare and antique busts. In 'Seated armed figure: Personnage Tres Important' (1962) the imperious seated soldier is mutated, appearing as a half-human, half-machine hybrid, similar to the work of Kenneth Armitage and Eduardo Paolozzi.
Through this hybrid human figure, Meadows’s work recalls modern weaponry and his experiences of the brutalities of the Second World War. Alan Bowness described the shift in his work in the 1960s as ‘from animal to human, from victim to aggressor’. The heavily abstracted forms and brutal dark brown patina create an image of humanity that is simultaneously dangerous and broken down, reflecting the existential fears of the period.
London, Gimpel Fils, Bernard Meadows: Recent Sculpture, February - March 1963, cat. no.13 (as Personage tres Important) (another cast)
Alan Bowness, Bernard Meadows, Sculpture and Drawings, Lund Humphries/HMF, Aldershot, 1995, BM84, p.65, illustrated pl.46