The Wonder and the Horror of the Human Head
22nd June 2007 - 1st June 2008
Upper Sculpture Gallery, Leeds Art Gallery
Installation view of The Wonder and the Horror of the Human Head
Photo: Jerry Hardman-Jones, courtesy of Leeds Galleries and Museums (Leeds Art Gallery)
This display focuses on a compelling group of sculptures and prints from the 1950s and early 1960s which use the form of the human head as a mirror for contemporary concerns and a template for universal human emotions and experiences. During this period, Britain was haunted by the memory of World War II. At the same time, she was threatened by the spectre of the Cold War and an escalating nuclear arms race. The powerful imagery of these conflicts permeates this display.
In these pieces the head is treated as a blank canvas or block of clay on which to apply or impress, sometimes literally, ideas and images. It is manipulated to reflect land patterns of aerial photographs, the muddy desolation of battlefields and bombsites, forms of armour and gas masks and the mushroom clouds of nuclear explosions. Sometimes it appears as an archaeological artefact, scarred and antiquated.
The display is built around a core of works from the Leeds collection, with additions from other public and private collections and includes works by William Turnbull, Eduardo Paolozzi, Henry Moore, Elizabeth Frink, Anthony Caro, Bernard Meadows, F.E. McWilliam, Geoffrey Clarke and Hubert Dalwood.