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First: A Magazine by Sculpture Students, 1960-61

20 Sep 2018 – 3 Mar 2019

First was published in the early 1960s by students and lecturers on the Advanced Sculpture course at St Martin's School of Art, London. The magazine was short lived, only two issues were produced between 1960 and 1961 and copies are now very hard to find.

The course began as a response to the limitations of the National Diploma in Design, and encouraged fresh thinking around the problems of sculpture and experimentation with new materials. It attracted young, ambitious sculptors, including Anthony Caro, William Tucker, Tim Scott, Phillip King, David Annesley and Isaac Witkin, who were interested in exploring new possibilities in sculpture.

In a recording made for the Artists' Lives project, Frank Martin, who was Head of Department, describes how the first issue of the magazine was put together using images collected by students from a hundred books, on a variety of subjects, which they felt were influential to sculpture. Images of abstract forms, ancient sculpture, stone circles and everyday objects are juxtaposed with essays by Lawrence Alloway and articles by Kurt Schwitters, Alberto Giacometti and Hugh Vaughan.

In the second issue of the magazine Phillip King, Buki Schwartz, Maurice Agis and other students respond to questions about subject matter, materials, scale, tradition and figuration. The 'first' sculpture ever made was also a topic of debate and a cast of one of the most famous early carvings, the 'Venus of Willendorf', features on the cover of the second issue in the hand of William Tucker, editor of this issue. In the mid-1960s, as a result of the New Generation group exhibitions at the Whitechapel Gallery, the sculpture department at St Martin's had become synonymous with radical and innovative developments in sculpture. First magazine captures a pivotal moment in the creative direction of this important department and gives an insight into the thoughts and ideas of the students there at the time.

Extracts from The National Life Stories, Artists' Lives recording by Frank Martin are currently available to listen to on the sound point in the Henry Moore Institute Reception for the duration of this display.