Plane & 2 Slabs I (1964)
Incised with Monogram and Numbered 64/4415
Height: 15 3/4" (40 cm)
Conceived and cast in 1964
Geoffrey Clarke (1924 - 2014) came to prominence in Britain in the early 1950’s, and rapidly rose to become one of the brightest stars of the new sculptural movement ‘The Geometry of Fear’. This pivotal moment would go on to define British sculpture in the 20th century, and Clarke was very much at the epicentre.
As early as his diploma year, Geoffrey Clarke was chosen to represent The Royal College of Arts at the 1951 Festival of Britain, with his sculpture titled Icarus in iron and glass for the Transport Pavilion.
In 1952, his fame was cemented when he was selected by the Arts Council for the inclusion in the landmark exhibition of British sculpture at the Venice Biennale, alongside Henry Moore, Robert Adams, Kenneth Armitage, Reg Butler, Lynn Chadwick, Bernard Meadows, Eduardo Paolozzi, and William Turnbull. It was at this exhibition that the movement, a style described as the Geometry of Fear, by the great critic of the period Herbert Read, was born.
In 1952, Clarke held his first solo show at Gimpel’s Gallery (who also represented Chadwick and Adams at the time), and of equal importance was commissioned to make a major welded iron sculpture for the Time Life Building, London, designed by Hugh Casson. Other artists who were commissioned for the project include Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson and Maurice Lambert. Originally made for the foyer, Clarke’s piece can now be viewed in the ground floor reception area.
The following year in 1953, aged only 23, Clarke was to work on perhaps the most important new building of the modern era in Britain, when he completed the stained glass and iron works on the high alter at the new Coventry Cathedral, designed by Basil Spence. This commission represented perhaps the ultimate moment of Clarke’s entire career.
During his early career, especially at the RCA, Geoffrey Clarke was known for experimenting with iron, wire and plaster works. A major development by the Geometry of Fear group was this specific interest in new materials – often building up an initial skeleton, that they constructed, and then built on top. This method perhaps fits in with a post-war optimism to try new approaches, and develop a more meaningful sculptural language. Clarke branched out even further, working in multiple mediums such as stained glass and print making, as well as sculpture.
Geoffrey Clarkes’ works are held in multiple public collections including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Victoria & Albert Museum, and Tate. He was part of the important survey British Sculpture in the 20th Century held at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1981. Clarke was elected a Royal Academician in 1970.