Savage Messiah: The Creation of Henri Gaudier-Brzeska

16 March – 31 July 2011

Exhibition in Gallery 4

This exhibition highlights the extraordinary ways in which the life of the French-born sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (1891-1915) entered mainstream culture.

Savage Messiah: The Creation of Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, curated by Dr Jon Wood (Research Coordinator at the Henry Moore Institute), presents the original 1929 manuscript of H.S. Ede's biographical novel, first published in 1930.

The exhibition looks at the ways in which the life and work of this twentieth-century sculptor was constructed through biographical narratives and, in turn, through film.

Acquired by Leeds Museums & Galleries in 2000, the Ede manuscript will be displayed alongside Gaudier-Brzeska's graphic representation of the Ezra Pound and his portrait bust of Horace Brodzky. These will be exhibited alongside film stills and posters from Ken Russell's 1972 film adaptation.

Both Ede's book and Russell's film concentrate on the artist's relationship with Sophie Brzeska, whose surname he took; a radical act for its time.

The exhibition highlights this, also shedding light on the relations between sculptor and writer, sculpture and text, how Gaudier represented two subsequent writers (Pound and Brodzky) and how various writers represented the life and work of Gaudier in print.


In 1911 Gaudier-Brzeska arrived in London, where he developed friendships with the poet Ezra Pound, American sculptor Jacob Epstein and the critic and philosopher T.E. Hulme among others. During his time in London he established connections with a number of artistic groups, including the Vorticists and the Omega Workshop.  

2011 marks the centenary of Gaudier-Brzeska's arrival in London, where he lived for the last four years of his life, before being killed in the trenches in 1915.

Talks and Events

Ken Russell will be attending a rare screening of Savage Messiah at the Hyde Park Picture House, Leeds, on 22 June 2011 as part of a one-day symposium that looks at the broader historiography of the work and life of Gaudier-Brzeska. The event will focus attention on the writings and testimonies of other artists and writers, including Jacob Epstein, Roger Fry and Wyndham Lewis, who knew him and his work between 1911 and 1915.


The exhibition coincides with the publication of a new scholarly edition of Savage Messiah, produced in collaboration with Kettle's Yard. It contains new illustrations, footnotes, appendices, introductory essays and interpretative texts by Evelyn Silber, Sebastiano Barassi and Jon Wood.

Venue details

Venue address

Henry Moore Institute
The Headrow
United Kingdom
T: 0113 246 7467

Opening times

Galleries: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm

Research Library: Monday to Friday, 10am - 5pm
Archive of Sculptors' Papers: Tuesday to Friday, by prior appointment

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