Geometry of Fear

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Herbert Read (1893—1968) poet, literary critic, and writer on art


Kenneth Armitage (1916—2002) sculptor

Lynn Chadwick (1914—2003) sculptor

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A term coined by Herbert Read to characterize the angst-ridden look of the work of a group of eight British sculptors who exhibited together at the 1952 Venice Biennale: Robert Adams, Kenneth Armitage, Reg Butler, Lynn Chadwick, Geoffrey Clarke, Bernard Meadows, Eduardo Paolozzi, and William Turnbull. Several were strongly influenced by the ‘existentialist’ sculptures of Giacometti and Richier, whose work had been seen in London at the Anglo-French Art Centre in 1947. The Geometry of Fear sculptors, with their spindly forms and tortured surfaces, seemed to encapsulate the anguish and bewilderment of the post-war generation, although Adams was more closely connected to geometric abstraction. This was the first major international showing for these British sculptors, but their work made a strong impact: Alfred H. Barr wrote that ‘it seemed to many foreigners the most distinguished national showing of the Biennale’. A number of other sculptors were influenced by this tendency, including Anthony Caro (before he took up more abstract work), Hubert Dalwood, Elisabeth Frink, George Fullard, and Leslie Thornton.

Subjects: Art.

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