The Sculpture of Robert Adams
Artist(s): Robert Adams
Author(s): Alastair Grieve
Year published: 1992
Publisher: Lund Humphries
Publisher Location: London
Total Pages: 280
Illustrations: 887 b&w illustrations
This is the first publication to be devoted to the sculpture of Robert Adams (1917–84), a leading member of the British avant-garde after the Second World War.
Adams’s early artistic training was haphazard, as he was obliged to work part-time. Only after the War was he able to embark on his career as a sculptor, holding his first one-man exhibition in London in 1947. Two years later he took up a teaching post there at the Central School of Art, where he became closely associated with a group of artists, led by Victor Pasmore, who were committed to constructed abstract art. In 1950 Adams participated in an International Arts Program in New York, where he met a number of American artists, including Calder and Motherwell. In 1952 he showed at the Venice Biennale with six other young British sculptors in an exhibition which won international acclaim.
Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth were important early influences on Adams’s sculpture, although he subsequently became more interested in the work of Brancusi, Picasso and abstract artists such as Malevich. Adams’s early sculpture is carved from wood or stone, but from the mid-1950s he changed to working in bronze, welded iron and poured concrete. Concrete was used for large architectural reliefs for which he was commissioned at this time. Although his techniques and the materials of his sculptures changed radically in the next two decades, architectural commissions always remained important to him.
At the Veniece Biennale of 1962 Adams had a one-man exhibition in which his most recent works were a series of ‘Screens’ made from welded segments of sheet steel coated with a dark finish. Commissions followed throughout the 1960s, mostly executed in steel. He continued to use welded steel until the end of the 1960s, when he returned abruptly to carving. The majority of his final works are small bronzes cast from carved wood patterns, although there are also some large architectural works in stainless steel.