Leon Underwood (1890-1975) Flux (The Runner)

Leon Underwood (1890-1975) Flux (The Runner)

Biography

George Claude Leon Underwood was born in London and studied at the Regent Street Polytechnic, the R.C.A. and at the Slade School of Art. He worked as a sculptor, wood engraver, painter and writer. In 1921 he founded the Brook Green School of Art in Hammersmith, where pupils included Henry Moore and Eileen Agar. He served during both World Wars, as Captain in the R.E. Camouflage Section during the First World War in 1914-1918 and Civil Defence Camouflage between 1939 and 1942

Underwood was an accomplished author of many books and he founded the magazine The Island in 1931, to which Henry Moore and C. R. W. Nevinson contributed. The study and collection of tribal art was central to his artistic and philosophical developments leading to a lifelong fascination for African, Mayan and Aztec sculpture

A self-taught sculptor, Underwood turned gradually to this medium in the early 1920s practising both as a carver and modeller and preferring to use a ‘cold chisel’ rather than the appropriate tools.

Collections:

Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven Connecticut

Victor Batte-Lay Trust, Colchester

Notes: cast from a plaster matrix (1923), which includes a head. Cast by Parlenti (a commercial foundry in Spain)

Exhibitions

1931 – National Society (351)

1934 – Leicester Galleries (7)

1938 – Empire Exhibition (311)

1953 – Beaux Art Gallery (1)

1962 – Acquavella Gallery (31)

1963 – Kaplan Gallery (45)

1969 – Minories (2)

1969 – Archer Gallery (54)

1970 – Arts Council, Decade 1920-30 (128)

1971 – Kemp Town Gallery (not in catalogue)

1973 – Agnew’s (not in catalogue)

1993 – Austin/Desmond (40)

1999 – Redfern Gallery (6)

2000 – Redfern Gallery (55)

Statement

Flux is a female torso caught in running motion. It was the first of a series of works by Underwood in hand-chased brass. The sheen created by this technique gives a sense of movement and fluidity, as well as giving the artist a sense of virtue by remaining in contact with the object for a longer period of time.� The vertical highlights created by the chasing together with the tubular limbs combine to give an upward lift, while the freedom of the back foot from the base of the object adds to the sense of movement.

The original wax matrix shows a head, with black-brown hair, turned to the right.

Bibliography

WHITWORTH, Ben , The Henry Moore Foundation in association with Lund Humphries, The Sculpture of Leon Underwood, 2000

NEVE, Christopher, Leon Underwood , Thames and Hudson, 1974

Collections: Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven Connecticut Victor Batte-Lay Trust, Colchester Notes: cast from a plaster matrix (1923), which includes a head. Cast by Parlenti (a commercial foundry in Spain)

Charlotte Hodgson