Bernard Meadows

Bernard Meadows was a British Modernist sculptor born in 1915, Norwich. He studied at the Norwich School of art from 1934 up until 1939. Meadows served as Henry Moore’s first assistant before going on to spend 20 years as a professor of sculpture at the Royal College of Art. The artist then came back to help Moore once more in his final years. Meadow’s training as a sculptor was greatly influenced by Moore, who also served as his mentor. Bernard Meadows, however, sacrificed much of his own success as a sculptor to devote his entire life to the arts, particularly sculpting.

In 1936 at the age of 21, Meadows took part in the first surrealist exhibition in London. Due to the war, he did not exhibit once more until the 1951 Festival of Britain’s inaugural open-air exhibition at Battersea Park. However, it was in 1952, representing Britain in the Venice Biennale, that Meadows first garnered international attention. Because of Herbert Read’s introductory essay, a group of other young British artists were invited to exhibit and were dubbed the Geometry of Fear’ sculptors.

Gimpel Fils hosted Meadow’s first solo exhibition in 1957. He later became a renowned and inspirational professor of sculpture at the RCA, where he taught for twenty years and had Elisabeth Frink among his students. He began teaching at Chelsea School of Art in the 1960s.

Meadows recognised that he could communicate tremendous brutality and represent humanity through his forms without turning to the human figure by using crabs, and then birds, as a means of eluding Henry Moore’s influence. His bird forms are very poetic, either falling to the ground, breaking, or changing into gun barrels.

Meadows said of his work: “I look upon birds and crabs as human substitutes, they are vehicles, expressing my feelings about human beings. To use non-human figures is for me at the present time less inhibiting; one is less conscious of what has gone before and is freer to take liberties with the form and to make direct statements than with the human figure: nevertheless, they are essentially human…”

In 1995, a survey of Bernard Meadow’s sculpture and works on paper was held at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park held an 80th birthday. The artist’s work can be found in many prestigious and private collections around the world.

Since Meadow’s passing in 2005, his art has gained some newfound renown, which has raised the value of his creations. Depending on the scale and material of the artwork, his works have been put up for auction numerous times, realising values from $57 and $217,298 USD. ‘Startled Bird’, which was sold at Christie’s London in 2013, set the record price for this artist at auction since 1998 at $217,298 USD.

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