AboutThe Fine Art Society, in association with Gillian Jason Modern & Contemporary, is proud to announce a solo exhibition of Modern British sculptor Frank Dobson.
In England in the 1920s and 30s, the names of three sculptors would have been familiar with the âmodern' movement; Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Jacob Epstein and Frank Dobson. Frank Dobson may be considered the first English modernist sculptor; Epstein was American, Gaudier French. In the early twentieth century the art capital of the world was Paris, where the re-invention of artistic expression was in ferment, and the waves created there were beginning to reach the shores of Britain.
The bridgehead to the Continent was begun by Roger Fry whose exhibitions in 1910 and 1912 introduced an astonished British public to what was called âmodern art'. Following him in enthusiastic support came the artist Wyndham Lewis and the family trio of writers Osbert, Edith and Sacheverell Sitwell.
By the beginning of World War I the more adventurous British artists were becoming excited by the work of the French Cubists and the Italian Futurists, but the war was to take its toll on the lives of young artists, and by the time it was over, the outlook of those who survived had altered from their pre-war worship of the machine to a more human approach.
In 1920 Frank Dobson was the only sculptor to be included in Wyndham Lewis's landmark Group X exhibition at Heals Mansard Galleries. His work was welcomed by the critic Roger Fry as âtrue sculpture and pure sculpture', a phrase reflecting Dobson's emphasis on the elemental forms which underlie all sculpture. With his stone carving The Man Child (1921), now in the V&A, Dobson displayed his modernist credentials, but as time passed his innate romantic and lyrical nature took over, and his work, largely based on endlessly inventive variations on the female nude, became gentler and more representational.
He was a skilled portrait artist, and in addition to his well-known bust of Osbert Sitwell (Tate), described by T.E. Lawrence as âthe finest portrait bust of modern timesâ¦ appropriate, authentic... and as loud as the band of the Guards', Dobson made portraits of such celebrities of the day as Cecil Beaton, Tallulah Bankhead, Lydia Lopokova, H.H. Asquith and Edward Marsh.
As time passed Dobson's fame was somewhat eclipsed by the emergence of Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. Moore had a great admiration for Dobson and after the end of World War II recommended him for the post of Professor of Sculpture at the Royal College of Art.
Now that the twentieth century is fast receding into the past, the time has come to re-assess certain reputations which have dimmed over time. In an age where art feels the need to shout ever louder, the quiet voice of Frank Dobson that speaks of peace, tranquillity and the celebration of eternal human values, should be heard.