Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Seated Woman, 1914. Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris/Musee national d'art modern
Works by Picasso, Matisse, Brancusi and Modigliani will join works by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska to launch the Kettle’s Yard 50th birthday celebrations.
WE the Moderns – Gaudia-Brzeska and the Birth of Modern Sculpture, runs from January 20 to March 18 2007 at the Cambridge venue and showcases works by this highly influential sculptor along with those of his more famous contemporaries.
Henri Gaudier-Brzeska started sculpting in 1911 when he travelled to London from France. He was killed in action during the First World War in 1915, aged just 23. Although he had such a tragically short career and a life marked by poverty he managed to create a substantial and advanced body of work in these three and a half years.
Pablo Picasso, Tete de Femme (Head of a Woman) (Fernande), 1909. Kunsthaus, Zurich
The exhibition shows his work in the wider European context, examining his contribution to the sculpture of the modern age.
Gaudier was initially inspired by the sculpture of Auguste Rodin and Post-Impressionist painting, and soon became aware of the latest artistic developments like Cubism, Futurism and Expressionism.
Gaudier aimed to show movement through the static medium of sculpture, and worked to create new ways of representing geometrical planes and methods of carving directly in stone.
Constantin Brancusi, Danaide, c1918. Tate Collection
These themes were shared by those he considered his fellow ‘moderns’ – artists like Constantin Brancusi, Amadeo Modigliani, Jacob Epstein and Alexander Archipenko – and also by others such as Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Joseph Csàky.
Other contemporaries included the German Expressionists and Italian Futurists. Gaudier’s own graphic work was influenced by Toulouse-Lautrec.
The exhibition places his sculptures next to work by all these artists, pinpointing his influences and the impact he had on both his contemporaries and later sculptors.
Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Bird Swallowing a Fish, 1914. Kettle's Yard, University of Cambridge
Kettle’s Yard has the most important collection of Gaudier-Brzeska’s work in the world, the majority of which were bought by the gallery’s founder, Jim Ede in 1926-27. This huge body of sculptures, paintings and works on paper became the backbone of the gallery’s collection.
The exhibition also features loans from British and European galleries including Tate, the V&A, the British Museum, the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Musée Rodin and Kunsthaus Zurich.
They include well-known works like Picasso’s Head of a Woman and Rodin’s Crouching Woman.
After its run at Kettle’s Yard the exhibition will travel to the Graves Art Gallery in Sheffield, from March 31 to June 16 2007.