λ AUSTIN WRIGHT (BRITISH 1911-1997)
JUGGLER AND TRICK
Aluminium, in two parts
Height: 115cm (45¼ in.)
Executed in 1965.
Private Collection, Sussex (acquired early 1970s)
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Menston, Ilkley, Goosewell Gallery, Austin Wright , 1968, nos. 14 & 15
James Hamilton, The Sculpture of Austin Wright , London, 1991, p. 104, cat. no. S244 (illustration of 'Juggler' p. 51)
Once described as 'the most gifted sculptor working in Britain today' (Charles Sewter in The Manchester Guardian , 1955), Austin Wright's career developed away from the great artistic centres of London, Paris or New York. Working instead in his adopted Yorkshire, his reputation, much like the man himself, was somewhat unassuming. Shying away from the spotlight and eschewing the bright lights of Cork Street, his place in twentieth century British sculpture has often been overlooked and reassessment of his contribution is arguably overdue.
Born in 1911 in Chester, Wright spent his childhood in Wales. He never received any formal artistic training and it was not until his mid-forties, that he was able to give up a career in teaching to pursue his art full time. Early success and critical recognition were forthcoming. In 1955, he exhibited alongside Eduardo Paolozzi, Kenneth Armitage and Elisabeth Frink at an exhibition entitled 'Modern Art in Yorkshire' and was subsequently invited to contribute to 'Younger British Sculptors', an exhibition that toured Sweden in 1956 and also featured William Turnbull, Geoffrey Clarke, Reg Butler and Lynn Chadwick.
Whilst his work has echoes of Moore and Hepworth, Wright pursued his own artistic path and his mature style is uniquely his own. Drawing inspiration from plant forms and the landscape around him, his work is rooted in the natural world. Initially experimenting with a variety of mediums, including concrete, lead, wood and bronze, in the early 1960s, Wright began working in aluminium. He was impressed by the malleability and ductility of the metal which meant that he could produce finer, more delicate forms whilst retaining the strength to be produced on a large scale. The two works in this sale (lots 191 and 192) are both prime examples of his work of this period .
His work is held in a number private and public collections including the Tate Gallery, Arts Council, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge and the universities of Leeds and York. Significant retrospective exhibitions of his work have been shown at Wakefield (1960), Newcastle (1974), Yorkshire Sculpture Park (1984), Hull (1984) and York Art Gallery (2011).