Lot 142
  • 142

Glynn Williams

8,000 - 12,000 GBP
56,250 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Glynn Williams
  • Two Girls From 1907 (After Picasso)
  • bronze
edition of 3


Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London, where acquired by David Bowie

Catalogue Note

In his introductory essay to this catalogue Bernard Jacobson referred to a small bronze by Glynn Williams that Bowie commissioned directly from the artist to decorate his wedding cake. This commission highlighted Bowie’s great admiration for the sculptor, who is today one of the most important working in the field. Despite an early abstract approach, it is the subject of mankind that has dominated much of his output, both in terms of the individual as well as broader human relationships.

Williams has always been a teacher, whether in his role as Head of the School of Fine Art at the Royal College of Art, which he left in 2009; as Principal Lecturer in sculpture at Wimbledon School of Art, or, from the late 1960s, teaching alongside Patrick Hughes at Leeds College of Art. Initially drawn to pure abstraction, the human figure came to dominate his work from the late 1970s, with the development of a new, abstracted figuration, often incorporating further deconstructed and reassembled depictions of the form.

Seen by critics such as Peter Fuller, an influential early supporter, as a natural successor to the traditions of Henry Moore, Williams refuses to be bound by such restrictive definitions, instead working with the dialogue between image and medium, as the artist notes in a 1992 interview in Modern Painters:

‘Although the representational imagery had long been obliterated by the actual putting together of material, they still had a source, and there was an image that was present there.’ (the Artist, quoted in Modern Painters, Summer 1992, p.75).

It was this dialogue between imagery and sculpture that led him in 1992 to create Two Girls From 1907 (After Picasso), originally conceived in Doulting Stone. He went on to recall:

‘I think it’s just an image, and the image can come from a lot of different sources. Over the years I’ve used both painting and sculpture. In the case of the Picasso, I did it for a very specific reason: because of an encroachment of naturalism in the forms that I was doing. I was doing some portraits and they were becoming very naturalistic, which I disliked. So I decided to use Picasso’s early masterpiece, because it was a ready-made image that someone else had pushed and distorted… It’s actually a processed image which exists in art and therefore is removed from the reality of our life.’ (ibid, p.75).

There is a bright and engaging dynamism to his sculpture, brought about through familiar subjects and scenes, whether the Crucifixion (lot 214) or Sitting, Holding, Looking (lot 217), that sets his sculpture apart from many of his contemporaries. Whilst strikingly contemporary his work remains grounded in a semi-structuralist understanding of the broader canon of art history as a modern day and surrealist understanding of the human form.